Dilatato Corde 5:2
July - December, 2015
Buddhists and Catholics from the United States Meet in Rome

In its 2014 message for the feast of Vesakh, “Buddhists and Christians:Together Fostering Fraternity,” the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue expressed the hope “that interreligious dialogue will contribute, in the recognition of the fundamental principles of universal ethics, to fostering a renewed and deepened sense of unity and fraternity among all the members of the human family.”
In order to foster this deepened sense of unity, and then to join together to be (in the words of that same message)
  • outspoken in denouncing all those social ills which damage fraternity,
  • healers who enable others to grow in selfless generosity,
  • reconcilers who break down the walls of division and foster genuine brotherhood between individuals and groups in society,
the Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue convened a Buddhist-Catholic Dialogue on “Suffering, Liberation, and Fraternity” in Rome, Italy from June 23 to 27, 2015.
Participants in the dialogue were especially honored and privileged to be received in private audience by His Holiness Pope Francis on June 24. As shown in this video-clip of the audience, the Holy Father thanked them for their visit to the Vatican, saying that it was
a visit that is close to my heart as it is a visit of fraternity, dialogue and friendship. These are things that do great good, that are healthy. In this historical moment, so scarred by wars and hatred, these small gestures are seeds of peace and fraternity. I thank you, and may the Lord bless you.
The meeting, which was supported by the archdioceses of New York , Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, brought together forty-five Buddhists and Catholics, most of whom are involved in interreligious dialogue and/or social action in these five metropolitan areas.
Among the invited Catholic participants were Anne McCarthy OSB, a member of the North American Commission for Monastic Interreligious Dialogue and President of the Board of Directors of Dialogue Interreligieux Monastique/Monastic Interreligious Dialogue (DIMMID), and William Skudlarek OSB, Secretary General of DIMMID. There were also representatives from Catholic Charities, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, the Focolare Movement, and the Catholic Association for Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers. Buddhist participants from the United States included leaders representing the Sri Lankan, Thai, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Tibetan, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese traditions.
The dialogue strengthened mutual understanding concerning human suffering and means of liberation, as well as deepened relationships as a basis for interreligious cooperation based on shared values. The objective of this “dialogue of fraternity,” as it is called by Pope Francis, is to create new and practical forms of collaboration reaching out to those in need in the cities of the participants in the United States of America.
After this dialogue, the participants agreed to return together to their cities to explore the following kinds of joint interfaith social action initiatives:
  • Addressing global climate change on the local level
  • Creating outreach program for youth in the cities
  • Collaborating in prison/jail ministries and restorative justice matters
  • Developing resources for the homeless such as affordable housing
  • Educating and providing resources to address the issue of immigration
  • Collaborating to create projects with local Catholic parishes and Buddhist communities to address neighborhood social issues
  • Developing social outreach programs for value education to families
  • Witnessing our shared commitment as brothers and sisters, our religious values and spiritual practices, and our social collaboration with our religious communities and others in our cities.

A photo archive of the audience can be found on the website of L'Osservatore Romano.

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