Christians and Buddhists Share Concern for Planet

Vatican Sends Note for Festival of Vesakh

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 29, 2008 ( Christians and Buddhists share a common concern for the environment and can do more to protect the planet that is home for us all, says the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran, president of the council, and Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, secretary, affirmed this in a note sent to Buddhists for their festival of Vesakh.

Vesakh is celebrated on different days depending on the calendars used by various Buddhist groups. It marks the birth, enlightenment and passing away of Buddha.

“It gives me much joy to recall the positive relationships that Catholics and Buddhists have enjoyed for many years,” the Vatican note said. “I am confident that this foundation will serve to strengthen and deepen our understanding of each other as we continue to work together to build a better world not only for ourselves but also for the entire human family.”

The pontifical council officials noted that Benedict XVI’s message for this year’s World Day of Peace said, “For the human family, this home is the earth, the environment that God the Creator has given us to inhabit with creativity and responsibility. We need to care for the environment: it has been entrusted to men and women to be protected and cultivated with responsible freedom, with the good of all as a constant guiding criterion.”

Noting that the U.N. general assembly declared 2008 as the International Year of Planet Earth, Cardinal Tauran and Archbishop Celata affirmed that “Christians and Buddhists respect the same creation and have a common concern to promote care for the environment which we all share.”

“Christianity and Buddhism have always upheld a great respect for nature and taught that we should be grateful stewards of the earth,” the note continued. “Indeed it is only through a profound reflection on the relationship between the divine Creator, creation and creatures that attempts to address environmental concerns will not be marred by individual greed or hampered by the interests of particular groups.”

The pontifical council message asked if more could be done on a practical level, and proposed: “Recycling, energy conservation, the prevention of indiscriminate destruction of plant and animal life, and the protection of waterways all speak of careful stewardship and indeed foster goodwill and promote cordial relations among peoples.”

“In this way,” the note concluded, “Christians and Buddhists together can be harbingers of hope for a clean, safe and harmonious world.”

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