Purpose of Dialogue

A response to: Buddhists, Christians Consider Point of Union

“Following their tradition, our Buddhist friends do not speak of God, but rather of Buddha or Dharma, but both we and they have been able to speak with full liberty of the respective faith experiences, feeling welcomed and profoundly understood by each other in the infinite mystery of God,” [Father Cinto Busquet] said.

This looks like a contradiction to me. Before becoming a Catholic I was an active Buddhist for well over 20 years. Just about all Buddhists vehemently deny the existence of God as a loving Creator — which is who God is — any other idea of God is simply false.

The point of dialogue is not to find out that, hey, we really hold the same thing after all — it’s just that you express it rather strangely! It is not a sign of respect for another religion to take them as “really” saying, or wanting to say, or implying they say, what you say and hold.

Dialogue with any religion first involves respecting what that religion actually says, and that it is often very different from what we believe (or should believe) as Catholic Christians.

Professor Paul Williams

Centre for Buddhist Studies, University of Bristol