Dialogue With Buddhists Must Continue, Says Vatican

Sends Message on Buddhist Feast of Vesakh

VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The dramatic consequences of the tsunami, which hit Southeast Asia last December, are a further reason for cooperation between Buddhists and Christians, said a Vatican representative.

On the occasion of Vesakh, the most important Buddhist feast, Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, sent a message to Buddhist faithful to assure them that Catholics pray for the victims of the disaster.

“Nowhere has the need for collaboration been felt more keenly than in the countries of South and Southeast Asia, which were affected by the earthquake and the ensuing tsunami of Dec. 26, 2004,” said the British prelate.

“This disaster elicited an outpouring of prayers, expressions of compassion and acts of generosity on a scale the world has rarely witnessed,” he added.

“Buddhists and Christians have worked together hand in hand to help the victims; religious organizations have cooperated by bringing immediate relief and assessing future needs,” he continued.

“The long-term requirements of reconstruction call, however, for a continuation of the interreligious expressions of solidarity,” he stressed.

Archbishop Fitzgerald said that some families observe the feast of Vesakh, celebrated May 22, “missing some of their members.”

“I wish to assure them that their loved ones will not be forgotten but will be remembered in our prayers,” he said.

The dialogue launched 40 years ago in the Second Vatican Council’s declaration “Nostra Aetate,” “encourages us to share with one another in time of joy and sorrow,” said the archbishop.

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