PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE
Buddhists and Christians :
Constructing a Culture of Compassion and Fraternity
MESSAGE FOR THE FEAST OF VESAKH/HANAMATSURI
Dear Buddhists Friends,
1. On behalf of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious
Dialogue, we extend our heartfelt greetings and good wishes to you and to all
Buddhist communities around the world as you celebrate the feast of
Vesakh/Hanamatsuri. For the last twenty-four years, the Pontifical Council
for Interreligious Dialogue has sent greetings to you on this happy occasion.
Since this year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of this traditional message,
we would like to renew our bond of friendship and collaboration with the various traditions you
2. This year, we would like to reflect with you on the theme “Buddhists
and Christians: Constructing a Culture of Compassion and Fraternity”.
We are mindful of the high value our respective religious traditions give to
compassion and fraternity in our spiritual quest and in our witness and service to a wounded humanity and
a wounded earth.
3. The Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and
Living Together states: “Authentic teachings of religions invite us to remain rooted in the values of
peace; to defend the values of mutual understanding, human fraternity and
harmonious coexistence”. Meeting the Supreme Buddhist Patriarch
in Thailand last
November, His Holiness Pope Francis expressed that “we can grow and live together as good “neighbors” and thus be able to promote
among the followers of our religions the development of new charitable projects,
capable of generating and multiplying practical initiatives on the path of
fraternity, especially with regard to the poor and our much-abused common home.
In this way, we will contribute to the formation of a culture of compassion,
fraternity and encounter, both here and in other parts of the world” (cf.
Visiting the Supreme Buddhist Patriarch, Bangkok, 21 November 2019).
4. The Feast of Vesakh/ Hanamatsuri prompts us to
recall that Prince Siddhartha set out in search of wisdom by shaving his head
and renouncing his princely status. He traded his garments of Benares silk for
the simple robe of a monk. His noble gesture reminds us of Saint Francis of
Assisi: he cut his hair and traded his fine clothes for the simple robe of a
mendicant because he wanted to follow Jesus, who “emptied himself, taking the
form of a slave” (Philippians 2:7) and had “nowhere to lay his head” (Matthew
8:20). Their example and that of their followers inspire us to a life of
detachment in view of what is most important. Thus, in consequence, we may more
freely devote ourselves to fostering a culture of compassion and fraternity for
the alleviation of human and ecological suffering.
5. Everything is related. Interdependence brings us back to
the theme of compassion and fraternity. In a spirit of gratitude for your
friendship, we humbly ask you to accompany and support your Christian friends in
fostering loving kindness and fraternity in the world today. As we, Buddhists
and Christians, learn from one another how to become ever more mindful and
compassionate, may we continue to look for ways to work together to make our
interconnectedness a source of blessing for all sentient beings and for the
planet, our common home.
6. We believe that to guarantee the continuity of our universal solidarity, our
shared journey requires educational process. To this end, a global event will take place on 15 October 2020 on the theme “Reinventing the Global Compact on Education”. “This meeting will
rekindle our dedication for and with young people, renewing our passion for a
more open and inclusive education, including patient listening, constructive
dialogue and better mutual understanding” (Pope Francis,
Message for the Launch of the Global Compact on Education, 12 September 2019). We invite you to work together with all to promote this initiative, individually
and within your communities, to nurture a new humanism. We are also happy
to see that Buddhists and Christians are drawing on deeply held values and
working together to uproot the causes of social ills in various parts of the
7. Let us pray for all those who are affected by the
coronavirus pandemic and for those who are caregivers. Let us encourage our
faithful to live this difficult moment with hope, compassion, and charity.
8. Dear Buddhist friends, in this spirit of friendship and collaboration, we wish you once again a
peaceful and joyful feast of Vesakh/Hanamatsuri.
Miguel Ángel Card. Ayuso Guixot, MCCJ
Msgr. Kodithuwakku K. Indunil J.