Christians and Buddhists must walk together 'for the sake of peace'

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Christians and Buddhists must walk together 'for the sake of peace'The Prefect of the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue releases a message of greetings to Buddhists as they commemorate Vesak, the most important Buddhist festival.

Sending his greetings to Buddhists on the occasion of Vesak, Cardinal Ayuso underscored the shared responsibility of Christians and Buddhists in fostering peace, reconciliation, and resilience.

In a message entitled “Christians and Buddhists: Working together for Peace through Reconciliation and Resilience” released on Monday, 6 May, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue reflected on how the teachings of both traditions highlight the need for collaborative efforts in healing the wounds of humanity and the earth.

Escalation of conflicts worldwide

Quoting Pope St. Paul VI's timeless plea, "Never again war, never again war," the Cardinal said it serves as an urgent reminder of how “the continuing escalation of conflicts worldwide calls for renewed attention to the critical issue of peace and deeper reflection on our role in overcoming the obstacles standing in the way of its growth.”

Noting that pursuing peace demands “vigorous efforts” on the part of all, Cardinal Ayuso pointed to the need “to strengthen our commitment to work for reconciliation and resilience.”

The Cardinal remarked on how the quest for lasting peace requires acknowledging that true reconciliation cannot occur without addressing the underlying causes of conflicts and he emphasized the importance of equity and justice in political, economic, and cultural spheres.

Forgiveness and reconciliation

Quoting South African Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who led his country’s “Truth and Reconciliation” process as the nation struggled to overcome the injustice and the wounds of apartheid, he said “Forgiving and being reconciled are not about pretending that things are other than they are. It is not patting one another on the back and turning a blind eye to the wrong. True reconciliation exposes the awfulness, the abuse, the pain, the degradation, the truth.”

Thus, Cardinal Ayuso said, the teachings of our respective traditions and the “exemplary lives lived by those whom we revere” bear witness to the values of reconciliation and resilience.

“When forgiveness is sought, and broken relationships are healed, harmony is restored,” he continued, individuals and communities can emerge stronger from adversity and trauma.

This “potent synergy that heals wounds and forges bonds” he continued, offers hope for a brighter future and empowers individuals “to meet life's challenges with fortitude and optimism.”

Shared values

The Cardinal reflected further on how both traditions offer profound insights into the nature of hatred and forgiveness.

While Buddha teaches that "hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. It is appeased only by loving-kindness," Ayuso noted that Saint Paul exhorts Christians “to embrace the ministry of reconciliation initiated by God in Christ.”

As Buddhists commemorate Vesak, Cardinal Ayuso suggested we invoke the wisdom of Venerable Maha Ghosanda – a witness to the horrors of the Cambodian genocide and inspiration for the Dhamma Yatra Peace Pilgrimage - and Pope Francis, who “likewise assures us that “reparation and reconciliation will give us new life and set us all free from fear” (Fratelli Tutti, 78).

In the encyclical Fratelli tutti, he explained, the Pope encourages those who were enemies “to learn how to cultivate a penitential memory, one that can accept the past in order not to cloud the future with their own regrets, problems and plans.”

All of us, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue conclude, “are called to rediscover and treasure these values found within our respective traditions, to make better known the spiritual figures who embodied them, and to walk together for the sake of peace.”

Linda Bordoni