Pope Francis invited Buddhists this week to work with Catholics “to cultivate compassion and hospitality for all human beings, especially the poor and marginalized.”
The pontiff made the statement during a meeting with a delegation of Buddhist and Catholic Church leaders from Thailand in the Vatican on Friday, June 17.
During the meeting, Pope Francis stressed the need for inter-religious dialogue and collaboration “at a time in which our human family and planet are facing manifold threats.”
“Sadly, on all sides, we hear the cry of a wounded humanity and a broken earth,” said the pope.
“The Buddha and Jesus understood the need to overcome the egoism that gives rise to conflict and violence,” he added.
Pope Francis cited the Dhammapada, a collection of sayings of the Buddha, that says “To avoid evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one’s mind.”
“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,’” said Pope Francis said, quoting from John 13:34.
“Our task today is to guide our respective followers to a more vivid sense of the truth that we are all brothers and sisters,” he said.
“It follows that we should work together to cultivate compassion and hospitality for all human beings, especially the poor and marginalized,” Pope Francis told the Thai delegation.
The visit to the Vatican 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 the 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,” Pope Francis quotef Pope Paul VI.
“We hope there will be increasing friendly dialogue and close collaboration between the traditions that you represent and the Catholic Church.”
Pope Francis also recalled his visit to Thailand on Nov. 20-23, 2019, “and the wonderful welcome and hospitality I received.”
The Thai Buddhist delegation included 33 prominent Buddhist monks of both the Theravada and Mahayana schools, 60 lay Buddhists, and several representatives of the Thai Catholic Church. – with a report from the Catholic News Agency