The Vatican recently reached out to Buddhists on the occasion of the feast of Vesak-Hanamatsuri, or Buddha’s birthday, with praise for the faith’s outreach to the young.
In a letter signed by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and the council’s secretary, Archbishop Pier-Luigi Celata, the Holy See said that Buddhists and Catholics shared the goal of educating the young within the respective faiths. The letter was first printed in the Vatican’s daily newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.
“As Buddhists, you pass on to young people the wisdom regarding the need to refrain from harming others and to live lives of generosity and compassion,” the letter said. “This is one concrete way in which religion contributes to educating the young generation, sharing the responsibility and cooperating with others.”
The letter, which mostly focused on the strong guidance Buddhism gives its young, also addressed the need for inter-religious outreach, noting that in schools around the world “students belonging to various religions and beliefs sit side by side,” and young people “put pressure on us to destroy all the walls which unfortunately separate us.”
The feast of Vesak-Hanamatsuri is celebrated at different dates in different countries, starting with Japan’s observance of April 8 and extending to as late as June in Thailand. Most Buddhist countries will observe the feast on April 28 this year.
The letter is in line with increased visibility for the Vatican’s relationship with other faiths in recent weeks. In March, Tauran was critical of what he said was “ignorance” in relations between Christians and Muslims.