“Sharing some experience in interfaith meeting”
- The Most Revend Bishop,
- Reverend Francis Xavier Bảo Lộc, Head of Commission for Interfaith Dialogues,
- Reverend Representatives of various religions,
- Reverend Priests and Nuns,
- Brothers and Sisters,
Dear all Convention Delegates,
On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Assisi meeting (1986-2011), with the theme “to share some experience in interfaith meeting”, our convention today aims at joining hands to build peace. I’m glad to tell you a happy story happening just ten days ago.
Last Monday 17 October 2011, at 8:15am, from the Bishop’s Palace in Long Xuyên diocese, H.E. Bishop GB Bùi Tuần phoned me, saying that he had read my article in Catholics and Nation weekly magazine, issue No. 1829. He was glad to read it as well as other interfaith-related writings which I shared with Catholic readers every week.
In the end of our talk, H.E. Bishop referred to such a telling image that I can’t forget.
As you know, since September till now the Long Xuyen Quadrangle has been badly damaged by flooding. The reason is the collapse of local embankments.
From this sorrowful and painful reality in our socio-economic life, H.E. Bishop associated it with another sorrowful and painful reality in the spiritual life of contemporary humans. So, H.E. Bishop Bùi Tuần said, “All embankments have collapsed. You as well as us, we should work together to strengthen the embankments…”
I would like to borrow the image of embankments created by H.E. Bishop’s to express my ardent feelings towards the journey of interfaith dialogues fruitfully carried out in this city by H.E. Cardinal GB Phạm Minh Mẫn and the Archbishop’s Residence. On 05 December 2009, H.E. Cardinal established Commission for Interfaith Dialogues, a body of special task whose Head is Reverend Francis Xavier Bảo Lộc.
By saying that I have ardent feelings towards the journey of interfaith dialogues, I really don’t use any beautiful but empty words because I never want to become “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” as warned by Saint Paul.
Truly speaking, Caodaism always cultivates a spirit of harmonious union between religions and advocates that underlying all religions is one common truth. Caodaism calls for our “meeting in religious teachings” so that we all can “build a bridge of teachings for our country construction, and a natural mechanism for better secular and religious worlds”(1). Imbued with these noble ideals, like all Caodai followers, I naturally feel enthusiastic for interfaith dialogue attempts to gather every true religion in our beloved country so that we can wholeheartedly “join our hands to build peace”.
Dear all Reverend Representatives of various religions who are present in today’s convention “to live the spirit of Assisi” on the initiative of H.E. Cardinal GB Phạm Minh Mẫn.
“The spirit of Assisi” is the expression coined by the late Pope John Paul II 25 years ago. At present, Pope Benedict XVI is illuminating it in the spiritual light of peace and the spiritual light of Gospel shining from Saint Francis of Assisi.
Our interfaith convention here today is indeed a historic milestone in the journey of communication with Pope Benedict XVI in order to join Him in the pilgrimage of truth, justice and peace while our world is changing at a dizzy speed.
The world’s too rapid change has been destroying the embarkments protecting the civilization of love as well as the culture of life of contemporary mankind. Perhaps the human fragile soul has never before degenerated badly and gone rotten unthinkably like today. However, it is through this darkness that we see a hopeful light of our beliefs in the salvation of Buddha, of Heaven, of Jesus Christ, etc.
According to the Book of Change (Yi Jing), extreme changes will inevitably bring about sustainability. That is also Caodai viewpoint on our today’s chaotic world, and Caodaism coins the term “biến dưỡng” to name the world’s actual situation. Biến means change which is necessary for a renewal, a reconstruction; and Dưỡng means nourishing the best seeds of a new world in order to replace whatever old and rotten which must be discarded.
Therefore, in a holy teaching on 17 February 1969, our Caodai Spiritual Pope Li Taibai said, “The struggling mankind’s present combat is a process of changing and nourishing.” Facing this nourishment-change, all religions should bunch up to form “an entity of salvation”. If, however, “existing religions are still involved in struggles or disputes, they have not yet established a genuine entity of salvation.”(2)
In short, it’s my honour to gather together with all convention delegates here today to illuminate the spirit of Assisi, to live the spirit of Assisi. I wholeheartedly pray to Buddha Sakyamuni, pray to Jesus Christ, pray to Caodai God, and pray to the Almighties of various beliefs for blessings on all true religious leaders so that they all will soon fullfil their salvation missions when our planet is in danger of dying.
A Buddhist sutra titled Śūraṃgama-Samādhi contains these words: “He who wholeheartedly serves mankind is really paying his debt of gratitude to Buddhas.”