Vatican City, April 2014 (VIS) – Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Fr. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.J., respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, have signed the message that this dicastery sends each year to followers of Buddhism on the festival of Vesakh.
Vesakh is the principal 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; therefore, the date on which Vesakh is celebrated varies from year to year and from country to country. 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: “Buddhists and Christians: Together Fostering Fraternity”. Extensive extracts from the text are published below:
“Our cordial greetings this year are inspired by Pope Francis’ Message for the World Day of Peace 2014, entitled Fraternity, the Foundation and Pathway to Peace. There, Pope Francis observes that 'fraternity is an essential human quality, for we are relational beings. A lively awareness of our relatedness helps us to look upon and to treat each person as a true sister or brother; without fraternity it is impossible to build a just society and a solid and lasting peace.
Your religious tradition inspires the conviction that friendly relations, dialogue, the sharing of gifts, and the respectful and harmonious exchange of views lead to attitudes of kindness and love which in turn generate authentic and fraternal relationships. You are also convinced that the root of all evil is the ignorance and misunderstanding born of greed and hatred, which in turn destroy the bonds of fraternity. Unfortunately, 'daily acts of selfishness, which are at the root of so many wars and so much injustice', prevent us from seeing others 'as beings made for reciprocity, for communion and self-giving'.
As Buddhists and Christians, we live in a world all too often torn apart by oppression, selfishness, tribalism, ethnic rivalry, violence and religious fundamentalism, a world where the 'other' is treated as an inferior, a non-person, or someone to be feared and eliminated if possible. Yet, we are called, in a spirit of cooperation with other pilgrims and with people of good will, to respect and to defend our shared humanity in a variety of socio-economic, political and religious contexts. Drawing upon our different religious convictions, we are called especially to be outspoken in denouncing all those social ills which damage fraternity; to be healers who enable others to grow in selfless generosity, and to be reconcilers who break down the walls of division and foster genuine brotherhood between individuals and groups in society.
Our world today is witnessing a growing sense of our common humanity and a global quest for a more just, peaceful and fraternal world. But the fulfilment of these hopes depends on a recognition of universal values. We hope that interreligious dialogue will contribute, in the recognition of the fundamental principles of universal ethics, to fostering a renewed and deepened sense of unity and fraternity among all the members of the human family. Indeed, 'each one of us is called to be an artisan of peace, by uniting and not dividing, by extinguishing hatred and not holding on to it, by opening paths to dialogue and not by constructing new walls! Let us dialogue and meet each other in order to establish a culture of dialogue in the world, a culture of encounter!'.
To build a world of fraternity, it is vitally important that we join forces to educate people, particularly the young, to seek fraternity, to live in fraternity and to dare to build fraternity. We pray that your celebration of Vesakh will be an occasion to rediscover and promote fraternity anew, especially in our divided societies”.