WASHINGTON (March 27, 1997) --
Noting the "relationships of cordiality and cooperation" among
Buddhists and Catholics in the United States, the Chairman of the
Bishops' Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs has sent
greetings for the Buddhist feast of Vesakh.
"With these heartfelt greetings and good wishes, I encourage Catholics and Buddhists to maintain contact in various ways possible for the benefits of mutual understanding and respect, growth in our faiths and spiritual practices, and for the sake of all in need of justice and compassion," said Bishop Alexander J. Brunett of Helena (MT).
The Buddhist feast of Vesakh commemorates the life of Gautama Buddha, teacher of liberating insight and the attainment of nirvana in this world, some 2,500 years ago.
Bishop Brunett said that the "respect of the Catholic Church regarding what is true, holy, and good in Buddhist teachings and practice" rests on the guidance of the Second Vatican Council. He acknowledged, however, that the relationship between Catholics and Buddhists was not always marked with respect.
"If, at times, comments of Catholics, including comments reported perhaps inaccurately or with exaggeration by the media, have offended American Buddhists, I am sorry," Bishop Brunett apologized. "Such times can be occasions for forgiveness and deeper friendship and opportunities for further exploration of our teachings."
Text of Bishop Brunett's greetings
Cardinal Arinze's greetings