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Monday, May 16, 2005


VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2005 (VIS) - Made public today was the annual Message  sent by the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue to Buddhists on the occasion of the feast of Vesakh 2005. The Message, written in English, is signed by Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, president of the pontifical council. Vesakh is a moveable feast which marks important events in the life of Gautama Buddha.

  Archbishop Fitzgerald points to this year's 40th anniversary of "Nostra Aetate," the Vatican Council II document on the relationship of the Church to other religions, which states that 'the Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions'. Accordingly, Buddhists and Catholics are able to meet together, in a spirit of openness, sincerity and mutual respect, engaging in many different forms of dialogue."
  Where they live and work side by side, says the Message, "the resulting 'dialogue of life' allows them, while witnessing to their own beliefs, to deepen their understanding of one another, to foster goodwill and to promote a spirit of neighbourliness. In fact, a particular bond has developed between many Buddhist and Catholic monks and nuns."

  Archbishop Fitzgerald underscores that "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 December 26, 2004. ... The long-term requirements of reconstruction call, however, for a continuation of these inter-religious expressions of solidarity" as do "many other situations which require cooperation among people of good will."
  "This year's feast of Vesakh," he concludes, "will find many families 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."

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