Dalai Lama's Visit "Exclusively Religious"

Pope Has Audience With Buddhist Leader

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 27, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II received the Dalai Lama, leader of Tibetan Buddhism, in an «exclusively religious» visit, the Vatican press office reported.

Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls gave no further details on today’s audience.

After his meeting with the Holy Father, Tenzing Gyatso, the Dalai Lama, said: «I expressed my admiration to John Paul II for what he has done for peace and religious harmony in the world.»

The Buddhist leader said he benefited from «much wisdom and congeniality» during the meeting.

Navarro-Valls limited himself to a short explanatory statement: «It was a brief courtesy visit, of exclusively religious content.»

The private character of the visit — it was not announced in the Holy See’s press bulletin — is due to the desire to promote interreligious dialogue, without allowing the latter to be conditioned by political motives, Vatican sources stated.

That the Vatican spokesman emphasized the «exclusively religious content» was intended to avoid touching upon Chinese political issues. The Dalai Lama had to leave Tibet following the 1959 invasion of the territory by the Chinese army.

It is not the first time that the Pope’s audience with the Dalai Lama had a discreet character. The Buddhist leader’s visit on May 20, 1996, was not announced either, nor was it published in the Vatican press office bulletin.

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