In a world where differences of race, political systems and ideologies come into play and sometimes cause dispute and even war itself, it is important that people of goodwill of all religious traditions, and of none, work together to foster harmony, dialogue and peace.
Differences are something to be celebrated rather than feared. By looking at the world and its wonders through widely different lenses we are all enriched and none diminished.
At the core of all the world’s major religions is the exhortation to love one another. This call to love is universal and should not be confined to those of any particular group.
We all inhabit a small rock orbiting an ordinary star, one of hundreds of millions, in the suburbs of an ordinary galaxy, one of hundreds of millions. This fact of us all being in this together has been brought home to us as never possible before because of the wonderful images of this fragile blue ball taken from space.
We owe it to one another, and indeed it is essential for our survival as a species, that we co-operate and live in peace and in harmony with one another and harmony with the planet itself.
It is encouraging at a time of year when Buddhists traditionally celebrate the life of the Buddha to see the message below from the Vatican on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church.
Therefore, in response, and evoking the presence of great compassion, let us fill our hearts with our own compassion – towards ourselves and towards all living beings.
Let us pray that all living beings realize that they are all brothers and sisters, all nourished from the same source of life.
Buddhists and Christians together fostering fraternity
Vatican City, April 24, 2014
Here is the message from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, to Buddhists on their feast of Vesakh. The English-language message was released by the Vatican today.
Dear Buddhist Friends,
- In the name of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, we wish to once again extend to all of you, throughout the world, our heartfelt best wishes on the occasion of Vesakh.
- Our cordial greetings this year are inspired by Pope Francis’ Message for the World Day of Peace 2014, entitled Fraternity, the Foundation and Pathway to Peace. There, Pope Francis observes that “fraternity is an essential human quality, for we are relational beings. A lively awareness of our relatedness helps us to look upon and to treat each person as a true sister or brother; without fraternity it is impossible to build a just society and a solid and lasting peace…”
- Dear friends, your religious tradition inspires the conviction that friendly relations, dialogue, the sharing of gifts, and the respectful and harmonious exchange of views lead to attitudes of kindness and love which in turn generate authentic and fraternal relationships. You are also convinced that the root of all evil is the ignorance and misunderstanding born of greed and hatred, which in turn destroy the bonds of fraternity. Unfortunately, “daily acts of selfishness, which are at the root of so many wars and so much injustice”, prevent us from seeing others “as beings made for reciprocity, for communion and self-giving” (Message for World Day of Peace 2014, n. 2). Such selfishness inevitably leads to seeing others as a threat.
- As Buddhists and Christians, we live in a world all too often torn apart by oppression, selfishness, tribalism, ethnic rivalry, violence and religious fundamentalism, a world where the “other” is treated as an inferior, a non- person, or someone to be feared and eliminated if possible. Yet, we are called, in a spirit of cooperation with other pilgrims and with people of good will, to respect and to defend our shared humanity in a variety of socio- economic, political and religious contexts. Drawing upon our different religious convictions, we are called especially to be outspoken in denouncing all those social ills which damage fraternity; to be healers who enable others to grow in selfless generosity, and to be reconcilers who break down the walls of division and foster genuine brotherhood between individuals and groups in society.
- Our world today is witnessing a growing sense of our common humanity and a global quest for a more just, peaceful and fraternal world. But the fulfilment of these hopes depends on a recognition of universal values. We hope that interreligious dialogue will contribute, in the recognition of the fundamental principles of universal ethics, to fostering a renewed and deepened sense of unity and fraternity among all the members of the human family. Indeed, “each one of us is called to be an artisan of peace, by uniting and not dividing, by extinguishing hatred and not holding on to it, by opening paths to dialogue and not by constructing new walls! Let us dialogue and meet each other in order to establish a culture of dialogue in the world, a culture of encounter!” (Pope Francis, To Participants in the International Meeting for Peace, Sponsored by the Community of “Sant’ Egidio”,30 September 2013).
- Dear friends, to build a world of fraternity, it is vitally important that we join forces to educate people, particularly the young, to seek fraternity, to live in fraternity and to dare to build fraternity. We pray that your celebration of Vesakh will be an occasion to rediscover and promote fraternity anew, especially in our divided societies.
Once again allow us to express our heartfelt greetings and to wish all of you a Happy Feast of Vesakh.
Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran
Father Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, MCCJ
(April 24, 2014) © Innovative Media Inc.