Buddhists and Catholics meet in My Tho on Vesak to renew interfaith dialogue

A delegation led by Bishop Phêrô Nguyen Van Kham visited a pagoda in Tien Giang to mark the festival celebrating the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death. They received gifts, including anti-COVID masks with the logo of the Vietnamese Buddhist Church. The two sides discussed the many problems that afflict the planet, from the environmental crisis to ongoing conflicts.

May 17, 2022

By Paul Nguyen Hung

The festival of Vesak was celebrated last Saturday marking the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death.

For the occasion, Bishop Phêrô (Peter) Nguyen Van Kham of My Tho led a delegation from his diocese to pay a visit to Buddhist religious leaders in Tien Giang, a province in the south-west Mekong Delta region.

For the Catholic prelate, the event provided an opportunity to meet and pray, to exchange gifts and show solidarity in a country still reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, a wound to be treated and healed for the future for Vietnamese society.

In a spirit of interfaith dialogue, the meeting took place at the Vinh Tràng pagoda in the year 2566 of the Buddhist calendar. The pagoda is one of My Tho’s most characteristic places, a blend between eastern and western cultures.

In addition to the bishop, the diocesan delegation included diocesan secretary Fr Phêrô Pham Bá Duong and communications head Fr Giuse (Joseph) Nguyen Tuan Hai.

They were welcomed by the Most Venerable Thích Quang Loc, deputy head of the Buddhist Church executive board, and Venerable Thích Quang Loc, chief secretary of the executive board.

The Buddhist hosts offered their guests some gifts, including protective anti-virus masks with the logo of the Vietnamese Buddhist Church.

The Catholics also brought gifts, including flowers as well as a message from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, issued on the occasion of Vesak "in the third year of the pandemic".

The planet faces many problems, from environmental disasters that highlight the fragility of our “common home” and conflicts that continue to demand the blood of innocents to “the people who exploit religion to justify violence”.

During the meeting, the bishop and the Buddhist leader talked about the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused so many losses and wounds, and remains an emergency that affects people’s lives at work and in school.

Bishop Nguyen Van Kham express a desire to deepen his knowledge about his interlocutors’ activities, most notably the “three-month Buddhist retreat”.

For Buddhist monks and nuns, this is moment to express compassion, humanity and focus on learning and deepening their vocation.--Asia News

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