By Vatican News
The first signs of dialogue between the Buddhist and Catholic traditions appeared half a century ago when the 17th Supreme Buddhist Patriarch visited Pope Paul VI in the Vatican. Pope Francis recalled that visit when he met with the present Supreme Buddhist Patriarch at the Wat Ratchabophit Sathit Maha Simaram Temple in Bangkok, on Thursday morning.
Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot is President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. He was present at that meeting. In a video interview, he says that what emerged clearly from the conversation between the Pope and the Patriarch was the appreciation they have for one another, and for their respective traditions.
The Cardinal says it was symbolic that Pope Francis strongly underlined how the presence of the Church is one of witness and service, and how the Supreme Buddhist Patriarch recognized this. Equally symbolic, says Cardinal Ayuso, was the fact the Supreme Patriarch waited to welcome Pope Francis at the entrance to the Temple, rather than receiving him seated on his thrown, as his predecessor had done on the occasion of Pope John Paul II’s visit to Thailand in 1984.
A gift for the East
Pope Francis presented gifts to the Supreme Buddhist Patriarch, including a copy of the Abu Dhabi Declaration on “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together”. The Pope signed the document together with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, during his visit to the United Arab Emirates in February this year.
According to Cardinal Ayuso, including the Abu Dhabi Declaration among the gifts exchanged, highlighted the importance of spreading its message on Human Fraternity for peace and coexistence beyond the Middle East to Asia.