CHRISTIANS AND BUDDHISTS: INCREASING DIALOGUE THROUGH EDUCATION
Made public today was the annual Message to Buddhists for the Feast of Vesakh, issued by the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue. The message is signed by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, respectively president and secretary of the council.
Vesakh is the main Buddhist feast and commemorates the three fundamental moments in the life of Gautama Buddha. According to tradition, the historical Buddha was born, achieved enlightenment and passed away during the full moon of the month of May. Thus Vesakh is a mobile feast which this year falls on 5 and 6 May, while in China it is celebrated on the eighth day of the fourth month of the Chinese calendar, which this year corresponds to 28 April. On those days, Buddhists decorate their houses with flowers and perfume them with incense, visit local temples and listen to the teaching of the monks.
This year’s message is entitled: “Christians and Buddhists: Sharing Responsibility for Educating the Young Generation on Justice and Peace through Inter-religious Dialogue:” Extracts from the English-language version of the text are given below.
“Today, more and more in classrooms all over the world, students belonging to various religions and beliefs sit side-by-side, learning with one another and from one another. This diversity gives rise to challenges and sparks deeper reflection on the need to educate young people to respect and understand the religious beliefs and practices of others, to grow in knowledge of their own, to advance together as responsible human beings and to be ready to join hands with those of other religions to resolve conflicts and to promote friendship, justice, peace and authentic human development.
“With His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, we acknowledge that true education can support an openness to the transcendent as well as to those around us. Where education is a reality there is an opportunity for dialogue, for inter-relatedness and for receptive listening to the other. In such an atmosphere, young people sense that they are appreciated for who they are and for what they are able to contribute; they learn how to grow in appreciation of their brothers and sisters whose beliefs and practices are different from their own. When that happens there will be joy in being persons of solidarity and compassion called to build a just and fraternal society giving thus hope for the future.
“As Buddhists you pass on to young people the wisdom regarding the need to refrain from harming others and to live lives of generosity and compassion, a practice to be esteemed and recognized as a precious gift to society. This is one concrete way in which religion contributes to educating the young generation, sharing the responsibility and cooperating with others.
“As a matter of fact, young people are an asset for all societies. By their genuineness, they encourage us to find an answer to the most fundamental questions about life and death, justice and peace, the meaning of suffering, and the reasons for hope. Thus they help us to progress in our pilgrimage towards Truth. By their dynamism, as builders of the future, they put pressure on us to destroy all the walls which unfortunately still separate us. By their questioning they nurture the dialogue between religions and cultures.
“Dear friends, we join our hearts to yours and pray that together we will be able to guide the young people by our example and teaching to become instruments of justice and peace. Let us share the common responsibility we have towards the present and future generations, nurturing them to be peaceful and to be peace makers.”
RITE FOR THE BLESSING OF A CHILD IN THE WOMB
Beginning in the second week of May when many countries around the world celebrate Mother’s Day, the text of the “Rite for the Blessing of a Child in the Womb,” having received the approval of the Holy See, will be made available in parishes throughout the United States. The announcement was made recently in a note issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops informing the faithful that the the text — printed in both English and Spanish — has received the “recognitio” of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston and chairman of the episcopal conference’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, has explained that the blessing was prepared to “support parents awaiting the birth of their child, to encourage parish prayers for and recognition of the precious gift of the child in the womb, and to foster respect for human life within society.” The blessing may be imparted either during the liturgy or outside of Mass and the text will eventually be included in the Book of Blessings, after it has been revised.
The blessing of unborn children was promoted by Archbishop Joseph Edward Kurtz of Louisville. When bishop of Knoxville he had asked the Committee on Pro-Life Activities to see whether a blessing existed for a child in the womb. When none was found, the committee began preparing a text which was presented to the Divine Worship Committee in March 2008. In November of the same year the full body of bishops approved the prayer and it was sent to the Holy See for the “recognitio.”
OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS
The Holy Father:
• Appointed Bishop Jose Carlos Cabrero Romero of Zacatecas, Mexico, as archbishop of San Luis Potosi (area 19,428, population 1,925,000, Catholics 1,845,000, priests 264, permanent deacons 10, religious 985), Mexico. He succeeds Archbishop Luis Morales Reyes, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
• Appointed Bishop Castor Oswaldo Azuaje Perez O.C.D., auxiliary of Maracaibo, Venezuela, as bishop of Trujillo (area 7,400, population 788,000, Catholics 746,000, priests 117, permanent deacons 23, religious 93), Venezuela. He succeeds Bishop Vicente Ramon Hernandez Pena, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.