Pope Francis meets the Buddhist Delegation of the Sangha Assembly in Chetuphon, Thailand, at the Vatican, June 17, 2022 / Vatican Media.
Vatican City, Jun 17, 2022 / 08:38 am (CNA).
Pope Francis spoke about the teachings of Jesus and the Buddha during a meeting with a Buddhist delegation from Thailand on Friday.
“Sadly, on all sides, we hear the cry of a wounded humanity and a broken earth. The Buddha and Jesus understood the need to overcome the egoism that gives rise to conflict and violence,” the pope said at the Vatican on June 17.
He added: “The Dhammapada sums up the Buddha’s teachings thus: ‘To avoid evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one’s mind — this is the teaching of the Buddha.’”
“Jesus told his disciples: ‘I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another,’” Francis said, quoting from John 13:34.
“Our task today,” he went on, “is to guide our respective followers to a more vivid sense of the truth that we are all brothers and sisters. It follows that we should work together to cultivate compassion and hospitality for all human beings, especially the poor and marginalized.”
Pope Francis’ encounter with the Thai delegation marked the 50th anniversary of a historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and the Most Venerable Somdej Phra Wannarat, the 17th Supreme Buddhist Patriarch of Thailand, on June 5, 1972.
In his speech, Pope Francis hailed 50 years of steady growth in dialogue and collaboration between Thai Buddhists and Catholics.
He also renewed the words of Pope Paul VI 50 years ago to the Thai delegation, that “we have a profound regard for the spiritual, moral, and socio-cultural treasures that have been bestowed on you through your precious traditions.”
“We recognize the values of which you are the custodians, and we share the desire that they should be preserved and fostered,” Francis continued to quote.
“We hope there will be increasing friendly dialogue and close collaboration between the traditions that you represent and the Catholic Church.”
The Thai Buddhist delegation included three prominent Buddhist monks of both the Theravada and Mahayana schools, 60 lay Buddhists, and several representatives of the Thai Catholic Church.
Pope Francis recalled his visit to Thailand on Nov. 20-23, 2019, “and the wonderful welcome and hospitality I received.”
On Friday afternoon, the Vatican’s Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue hosted a conference with Rome’s Pontifical Urban University on “Friendship between Buddhists and Christians for a culture of encounter.”