The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue released a message to mark the Buddhist celebration of Vesakh

Catholics and Buddhists must strengthen efforts to reject violence in all of its forms as well as to urge and educate people in a life of non-violence, said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

“Jesus Christ and the Buddha were promotors of non-violence as well as peacemakers,” the cardinal said in a message marking the Buddhist celebration of Vesakh.

“May we actively dedicate ourselves to promoting within our families and social, political, civil and religious institutions a new style of living where violence is rejected and the human person is respected,” he said.

Each spring, the pontifical council sends its best wishes to Buddhists around the world for Vesakh, a feast commemorating key events in the life of the Buddha. The message for 2017 was released by the Vatican on April 22.

“While many religious believers are committed to promoting peace, there are those who exploit religion to justify their acts of violence and hatred,” Cardinal Tauran said.

There is “global religious cooperation, but also politicisation of religion; and there is an awareness of endemic poverty and world hunger, yet the deplorable arms race continues,” he said.

For these reasons, the pontifical council chose to dedicate its message to promoting a culture of peace, active non-violence and a rejection of violence in all its forms, the cardinal said.

Despite the lived example and important teachings of Jesus Christ and Buddha, many communities still must face much conflict and violence, which, in turn, “begets other social evils,” he said.

“Though we recognize the uniqueness of our two religions, to which we remain committed, we agree that violence comes forth from the human heart and that personal evils lead to structural evils,” Cardinal Tauran said.

The council, therefore, invited both Catholics and Buddhists to “work together in preventing conflicts and rebuilding broken societies; to urge the media to avoid and counter hate speech and biased and provocative reporting; to encourage educational reforms to prevent the distortion and misinterpretation of history and of scriptural texts; and to pray for world peace while walking together on the path of non-violence.”