Church Notes Friendship With Followers of Jain Religion

Dialogue on Similarities Between ‘Ahimsa’ and Charity

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 9, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican is noting satisfaction over the “mutual respect and friendship” between Christians and followers of the Jain religion.

The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue met Tuesday with a delegation from the Jain religion, which is a creed in India that promotes non-violence. 

The meeting was presided over by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the pontifical council, and by Nemu Chandaria, deputy chairman of the board of directors of the Institute of Jainology.

“This meeting was the second one after that of Feb. 14, 1995,” the dicastery noted in a communiqué. “Moreover, there have been contacts between the Jain community and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue since 1986.”

During the meeting, “members of the delegations expressed satisfaction over the cordial relations and cooperation that exist between both the Christian and Jain communities in countries where they live their day-to-day lives in proximity,” the Vatican reported.

There are some 4.2 million followers of Jain in India and communities in other countries, including in North America and Western Europe.

“While expressing the desire to expand mutual concrete collaboration,” the communiqué added, “the delegations agreed that it must be ever more strengthened at the local levels to better contribute towards the common good of the entire society. In particular, they stressed the importance of educating the younger generations to be aware of their own traditions, and to know and better respect those of others.”

The delegations discussed the Jain principle of “non-violence” (Ahimsa) and that of Christian “charity,” “with an aim to find concrete areas of convergence as the basis of collaboration.”

“They found some common elements that can motivate and sustain Jain-Catholic collaboration, recognizing the differences between the two principles,” the statement reported. “They also recognized that these elements, on a practical level, call upon the followers of both the traditions to promote mutual respect, truthfulness, honesty, freedom, peace, social harmony and to commit themselves to eliminate every form of violence against human beings, in particular injustice, poverty and exploitation of natural resources.”

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