Message to the participants of the Anglican-Lutheran-Buddhist Consultation

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran

Yangon, Myanmar

16-20 January 2017 

Excellencies, Respected Religious leaders, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great joy to convey my heartfelt  greetings  and cordial best wishes to all of you gathered, on the occasion of the Anglican-Lutheran-Buddhist Consultation  in Yangon, Myanmar, with the hope of enhancing Christian-Buddhist relations in Southeast Asia and around the world. I would also like to express my sincere appreciation for your ecumenical endeavours, along with Buddhists, to foster peace in the spirit of the Gospel Beatitude: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Mt 5:9).

We are daily confronted with the reports of the enormous hardships and sufferings of our brothers and sisters due to the global problems of domestic violence, the actions of organized crimes, natural disasters, conflicts and wars, refugees fleeing from violence, human trafficking, economic poverty, the ecological crisis as well as many others. Needless-to-say, we live amongst a wounded humanity in great need.

Recently Pope Francis offered the  Message for the 50th World Day of Peace entitled Non-Violence: A Style of  Politics for Peace. Pope Francis notes: “Jesus himself lived in violent times. Yet he taught that the true battlefield, where violence and peace meet, is the human heart: for ‘it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come’” (Mk 7:21) (n.3) […] He unfailingly preached God’s unconditional love, which welcomes and forgives. […] He taught his disciples to love their enemies (cf. Mt 5:44). […] He walked that path to the very end, to the cross, whereby he became our peace and put an end to hostility (cf. Eph 2:14-16) (ibid.,). Therefore, to be a follower of Jesus is to walk in the path of nonviolence.

Nonviolence (Ahimsa) and compassion (karuna) towards all beings are at the heart of the teaching of the Buddha as well: “Never by hatred is hatred appeased, but it is appeased by kindness. This is an eternal truth” (Dhammapada I, 5). Even though many of the founders of the various different religions promoted nonviolence and compassion, this century has seen the growing phenomenon of religious fundamentalism and the misuse of religion to justify violence by some of its members.  This has tarnished the image of our respective religions, historically as well as today.

Dear friends, it is all the more urgent that our genuine and fraternal dialogue foster the mission that we Buddhists and Christians have in common.Non-violence and compassion are the key to healing our societies caught in cycles of hatred engendering violence. How can we better live and transmit these ideals to all, especially to children, so as to build a harmonious world capable of sustaining peace?

Inspired by these common values in our respective spiritual traditions, let us find ways to foster building trust and relationships instead of tearing them down, accepting one another instead of rejecting those who are different so that violence can find no place in our world. The Theme for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2017 is “Crossing Barriers”. May this Anglican-Lutheran-Buddhist Consultation be a bridge across the barriers of mistrust and prejudice, demolishing the walls of fear and ignorance, bringing forth a new culture of encounter and peace!

With this fervent hope, I offer all of you once again my heartfelt, fraternal good wishes, and I assure you of my prayerful support for an effective, successful and productive Conference!

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President

Vatican City, 13 January 2017