Pope to Buddhists: Dialogue can foster ecological conversion
By Devin Watkins
A group of Cambodian Buddhists met with Pope Francis on Thursday, as part of an encounter to enhance interreligious cooperation.
In his address to the delegation, the Pope praised efforts to foster dialogue among religions, saying this important element of society helps people to live “peacefully as brothers and sisters”.
He commended the group for gathering under the banner of “ecological conversion”, and called it a “positive sign of the growing sensitivity and concern for the wellbeing of the earth, our common home”.
Solutions begin with change of heart
Pope Francis went on to reflect on the need for people of all religions to seek solutions to the many ills that afflict societies across the globe.
He said both Creation and our neighbors deserve our respect, but noted that positive change can must about through a “change of heart, vision, and practices.”
Ecological conversion, noted the Pope, can only begin when we recognize clearly the “human roots of the present environmental crisis”.
He added that only true repentance can put a stop to ideologies and practices that harm the earth, including an excessive search for profit and a lack of solidarity.
Richness of religious traditions
Interreligious dialogue, said Pope Francis, helps people of various religions to work together to cultivate ecological responsibility.
He noted that the Buddha left his disciples the practices of metta, which involves not harming living things and living a simple lifestyle.
By following these practices, “Buddhists can achieve a compassionate protection for all beings, including the earth, their habitat.”
Christians, added the Pope, fulfill our ecological responsibility when we seek to protect God’s Creation as trustworthy stewards.
Pope Francis concluded his remarks to the Buddhist delegation from Cambodia by thanking them for taking the time to visit Rome and engage with the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Interreligious Dialogue.
“Upon you and upon all in your noble country,” he said, “I invoke an abundance of blessings from on high.”
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