As Buddhists celebrate the Feast of Vesakh, the Vatican sent a message to members of the religion on Monday in which it noted the common ground between the two religions on certain issues. The note from the head of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue underlined shared views on the value of life and the need to promote ecological responsibility.
The Feast of Vesakh commemorates the main events in the life of Buddha and, while it was already celebrated in Japan in March, it will be observed in Korea and Taiwan on May 21. In eight other Asian countries it will be celebrated on May 28.
The President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Touran, along with the dicastery’s secretary, wrote the note to all Buddhists complementing the mutual efforts of both faiths in raising awareness about the importance of spiritual and social concerns in the environmental sphere.
The message underscored the common values of the two religions, particularly “respect for the nature of all things, contemplation, humility, simplicity, compassion, and generosity” and the contribution of these values to “a life of non-violence, equilibrium, and contentment with sufficiency.”
Noting the Catholic Church’s consideration of the close link between environmental protection and integral human development, the Vatican representative to other religions emphasized its commitment to protecting natural resources and mankind itself from self destruction. He observed that “our responsibility to protect nature springs, in fact, from our respect for one another; it comes from the law inscribed in the hearts of all men and women.
“Consequently, when human ecology is respected within society, environmental ecology also benefits.”
Cardinal Touran deemed as “crucial” the need to continue to encourage the creation of “a sense of ecological responsibility,” in addition to reaffirming “convictions about the inviolability of human life at every stage and in every condition, the dignity of the person and the unique mission of the family, where,” he observed, “one learns to love one’s neighbor and to respect nature.”
In closing, Cardinal Touran hoped for continued promotion of "the healthy relationship between human beings and the environment" through Buddhists and Catholics being committed to the well-being of the world.