Buddhist monks taking part in a parade in New Delhi, India. CNS photoBuddhist monks taking part in a parade in New Delhi, India. CNS photo

VATICAN CITY – Catholics and Buddhists share “a profound reverence for life” which should motivate them to work together to protect human life, including the life of the unborn, said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

“It is urgent for both Buddhists and Christians, on the basis of the genuine patrimony of our religious traditions, to create a climate of peace to love, defend and promote human life,” the cardinal said in a message marking Vesak Day.

Each spring, the pontifical council sends its best wishes to Buddhists around the world for Vesak Day, a feast commemorating key events in the life of the Buddha. The message for 2013 was released by the Vatican on May 2.

“Pope Francis, at the very beginning of his ministry, has reaffirmed the necessity of a dialogue of friendship among followers of different religions,” Cardinal Tauran said, and he reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s belief that individuals have a moral obligation to love and protect life and all of creation.

In addition, the cardinal noted how Pope Benedict XVI’s message for the Jan 1 celebration of World Peace Day emphasised the Catholic belief that peace is impossible without “respect for human life in all its many aspects, beginning with its conception”.

In the same way, Cardinal Tauran said, the first precept of Buddhism is “to abstain from destroying the life of any sentient being”.

Yet, the cardinal said, “in spite of these noble teachings on the sanctity of human life, evil in different forms contributes to the dehumanisation of the person by mitigating the sense of humanity in individuals and communities”.

Buddhists and Christians must “join hands to unmask the threats to human life and to awaken the ethical consciousness of our respective followers” so that they would be “true peacemakers who love, defend and promote human life in all its dimensions”, Cardinal Tauran wrote.

Vesak Day is celebrated on May 24 in Singapore this year. - CNS

The full message is at http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/interelg/documents/rc_pc_interelg_doc_20130502_festivita-buddista_en.html

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