Vatican City, May 2, 2013 / 06:22 am
The Vatican's top official for interreligious dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, sent a message to all Buddhists urging a joint commitment to "unmask the threats to human life."
In his annual letter for the feast of Vesakh, Cardinal Tauran highlighted the two faiths' "noble teachings on the sanctity of human life" but lamented that "evil in different forms contributes to the dehumanization of the person" in society, "by mitigating the sense of humanity in individuals and communities."
"This tragic situation calls upon us, Buddhists and Christians, to join hands to unmask the threats to human life and to awaken the ethical consciousness of our respective followers to generate a spiritual and moral rebirth of individuals and societies," he wrote in his May 2 letter.
Vesakh is a major Buddhist holy day that commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha.
According to tradition, the historical Buddha was born, achieved enlightenment and passed away during the full moon of the month of May. This means that Vesakh is a movable feast, which this year falls on May 24 or 25, depending on the country it is celebrated in.
On those days, Buddhists visit local temples to offer the monks food and to hear the teachings of the Buddha, taking special care to meditate and to observe the eight precepts of Buddhism.
This year's message is entitled: "Christians and Buddhists: Loving, Defending, and Promoting Human Life." The letter is signed by Cardinal Tauran, prefect of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and Father Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, the council's secretary.
Cardinal Tauran also recalled that Pope Francis believes in the importance of interreligious dialogue.
"Pope Francis, at the very beginning of his ministry, has reaffirmed the necessity of a dialogue of friendship among followers of different religions. He noted that: 'The Church is … conscious of the responsibility which all of us have for our world, for the whole of creation, which we must love and protect. There is much that we can do to benefit the poor, the needy, and those who suffer, and to favor justice, promote reconciliation, and build peace.'"