Vatican calls on Catholics and Buddhists to promote peace

On May 10, the Buddhist community will be celebrating a religious festival known as the Vesakh. The Vatican wrote a letter to Catholics and Buddhists urging them to work together to promote world peace.

The Catholic and the Buddhist communities are vastly different, yet share many fundamental values. The Buddhists believe their founder, Buddha, was a wise leader and they live according to the principles he left behind for them. Catholics, on the other hand, have faith in the Christian savior, whom they call Jesus Christ, who they believe was brought to earth on a reconciliatory mission between God and man, and a peace-keeping mission among humankind.

Ahead of Vesakh, which Buddhists commemorate the birth, spiritual fulfillment and the passing of Buddha, the Vatican sent out a letter to the community. The letter was written by the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and issued on Saturday. It was signed by the council’s Chair and Secretary Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Bishop Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot respectively.

In the letter, the Catholic Church acknowledged though the Catholic and Buddhist faiths are different, they held some common beliefs. Some of the views listed included the belief in the nonviolent way of life from both communities’ leaders. Both religions propose that violence does not solve anything and therefore any conflict should be resolved by peaceful means. Furthermore, the letter from the Vatican stipulated, it was the duty of each Buddhist and Catholic according to his or her faith to teach society the value of peace.

The letter from the Vatican reminded the Buddhists they believed that change began from an individual. If a person is hateful or evil, then he or she can influence others in society to emulate him or her. As such, every member of both religions should be committed to making personal steps towards world peace by teaching it and by practicing virtues such as generosity, honesty, self-control and gentleness.

The Buddhist community and the Catholic congregation must make pragmatic stands to realize world peace. One way they can do so is to fight global violence. Fighting violence on the world scale would include rehabilitation of victims of the vice as well as reform of the perpetrators. Devotees could also speak against any forms of hate speech or misinformation likely to bring about contention. Also, members of both religions could discourage fighting by teaching their congregants to combat violence on a personal level.

Violence could also be prevented by molding children into global ambassadors of peace, in harmony with others and with the surrounding. Similarly discovering the root causes of violence and subsequently preventing them would further the Catholic Church’s and the Buddhists mission of promoting peace and non-violence.

The letter to the Buddhists was a call to action for both Catholics and Buddhists. It echoes the mission of the pope who advocates for disarmament and the spread of Jesus’ teaching in the quest for world peace.

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