Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Nang greets Most Venerable Thich Thien Tam at Vietnam Quoc Tu Pagoda on May 5 in Ho Chi Minh City. (Photo courtesy of tgpsaigon.net)
Catholic and Buddhist leaders teamed up in southern Vietnam to promote religious values as they met for Buddhism’s Vesak festival.
Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh of Hue, who led a nine-member delegation from Hue Archdiocese, paid an official visit to the Buddhist Sangha Executive Committee based in Thua Thien Hue on May 6.
The delegates were warmly welcomed by Most Venerable Thich Duc Thanh, head of the local executive committee, and eight other Buddhist dignitaries.
Archbishop Linh offered congratulations and good wishes to the hosts and Buddhists celebrating the Vesak festival, which commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of the Lord Buddha.
The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam said Buddhism is a large religion and has deep and great influence on the world, so the United Nations yearly holds the Vesak festival.
Vietnam has hosted the UN Day of Vesak three times, in 2008, 2014 and 2019.
Archbishop Linh said traditional Buddhist teaching highlights humanity and sacrifice and leads people to find happiness. “This is a meeting place between Buddhism and other religions, especially Christianity,” he noted.
The prelate also expected to foster community solidarity between local Catholics and Buddhist followers.
He expressed high hopes that “this frank meeting today will serve as a first step to fulfill the dream of promoting solidarity between the two religions.”
He offered a bouquet of flowers to Thich Duc Thanh, who expressed his deep gratitude to the Catholic delegation for the visit.
The Buddhist leader said the two religions should promote cooperation in serving society. He also gave gifts to Archbishop Linh.
The Catholic delegates also visited and gave Vesak greetings to dignitaries at another temple in Hue city.
Earlier Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Nang of Ho Chi Minh City, Father Francis Xavier Bao Loc, head of the Interfaith Dialogue Committee, and other people visited and offered greetings and good wishes to Most Venerable Thich Thien Tam and other venerables from Vietnam Quoc Tu Pagoda.
Archbishop Nang said that due to the Covid-19 pandemic Catholics could not celebrate Easter and Buddhists could not hold the Vesak festival as solemnly as in the past. Catholics and Buddhists have attended religious ceremonies livestreamed on the internet.
“But with our charity, solidarity and love, it is good that we made donations and provide material support to people badly hit by the pandemic,” he told his Buddhist hosts.
The prelate wished local Catholics and Buddhists “to live in harmony, sympathize with and love one another.”
He gave Buddhist dignitaries flowers and Vietnamese copies of the Vesak Message 2020 themed “Buddhists and Christians: Constructing a culture of compassion and fraternity by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.”
Thich Thien Tam said that “the two religions share the spirit of compassion, charity, equality and mutual respect for one another, so our followers fervently pray for the pandemic to end soon.”
He said local followers of both religions can work together to provide health care, livelihoods, peace and happiness to all people.