04/03/2009, 00.00
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Christians and Buddhists: being poor, fighting harmful poverty

A message from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, for the Buddhist feast of Vesakh. Agreement with Buddhists over poverty as "detachment." A call to work together to combat that form of poverty which is a humiliation of human dignity, distress and marginalization.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - A word of thanks for the "dear Buddhist friends," because of their "inspiring witness of non-attachment and contentment," together with an invitation to "fight" that form of poverty "that prevents people and families from living as befits their dignity; a poverty that offends justice and equality and that, as such, threatens peaceful co-existence." These are the two points that form the basis of the message for the feast of Vesakh released today by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Vesakh is the most important Buddhist feast, and recalls the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha, all of which happened during the month of Vesakh. This year, the feast falls on April 8 in Japan and Taiwan, on May 2 in Korea, and on May 8 in all the other countries of Buddhist tradition.

In simple and friendly terms, the message expresses the closeness of Catholics to the Buddhist communities. "Together," it says, "we are able not only to contribute, in fidelity to our respective spiritual traditions, to the well-being of our own communities, but also to the human community of the world."

Recalling Benedict XVI's words about a poverty "to be chosen" and a poverty "to be fought" (message for the World Day for Peace 2009; homily at the Mass on January 1), the Pontifical Council expresses its appreciation for the fact that "monks, nuns, and many lay devotees among you embrace a poverty 'to be chosen' that spiritually nourishes the human heart, substantially enriching life with a deeper insight into the meaning of existence."

At the same time, it specifies that "for a Christian, the poverty to be chosen is that which allows one to tread in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. By doing so a Christian becomes disposed to receive the graces of Christ, who for our sake became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty we might become rich (Cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9)." The message also recalls the "poverty to be fought": "affective, moral, and spiritual poverty," the marginalization of those who live in rich societies and the "various forms of malaise despite their economic prosperity," and invites the Buddhist communities to "promote the goodwill of the whole human community."

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