Message to Buddhists on Vesakh

"Christians and Buddhists Respect Human Life"

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 17, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is the message published by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue on the occasion of the Buddhist feast of Vesakh, in which the major events of the life of Gautama Buddha are celebrated.



The letter is titled: "Christians and Buddhists Respect Human Life as the Basis of Respect for all Beings."

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Dear Buddhist friends,

1. On the occasion of your feast of Vesakh, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue extends congratulations and heartfelt best wishes for peace and joy to all of you around the world. May this message help strengthen our existing bonds of friendship and collaboration in service to humanity.

2. Let us take this opportunity to reflect together on a theme of particular relevance today, namely, the environmental crisis that has already caused notable hardship and suffering throughout the world. The efforts of both of our communities to engage in interreligious dialogue have brought about a new awareness of the social and spiritual importance of our respective religious traditions in this area. We recognize that we hold in common a regard for values like respect for the nature of all things, contemplation, humility, simplicity, compassion, and generosity. These values contribute to a life of nonviolence, equilibrium, and contentment with sufficiency.

3. Pope Benedict XVI, has noted that "the various phenomena of environmental degradation and natural disasters… remind us of the urgent need to respect nature as we should, and to recover and value a correct relationship with the environment in everyday life" (General Audience, 26 August 2009). The Catholic Church considers the protection of the environment as intimately linked to the theme of integral human development; and for her part, she is committed not only to promoting the protection of land, water and air as gifts destined for everyone, but also to encouraging others to join the efforts to protect mankind from self-destruction. 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 (cf. Encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, n. 51).

4. Both Christians and Buddhists have a profound respect for human life. It is crucial therefore that we encourage efforts to create a sense of ecological responsibility, while at the same time reaffirming our shared 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 one learns to love one’s neighbour and to respect nature.

5. May we together promote a healthy relationship between human beings and the environment. By enhancing our efforts to promote ecological consciousness for serenity and peaceful coexistence, we can give witness to a respectful way of life that finds meaning not in having more, but in being more. By sharing the insights and commitments of our respective religious traditions, we can contribute to the well- being of our world.

Dear Buddhist friends, once again allow us to express our sincere greetings and to wish all of you a Happy Feast of Vesakh.

Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran
President

Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata
Secretary