International Encounter of Buddhists and Catholics
From June 23 to June 27 of 2015, Very Rev. Thomas A. Baima, Rev. Andrew Luczak and Susan Pudelek were invited to be delegates by the Vatican to the International Encounter of Buddhists and Catholics on the theme of Suffering, Liberation and Fraternity. The project was part of the 50th anniversary of the Vatican II declaration Nostra Aetate, on the Church’s relationship with other religions.
Over the course of the event, 45 Buddhist and Catholic leaders from major constituencies came together in Castel Godolfo to discuss the "dialogue of fraternity," as it is called by Pope Francis, and create new and practical forms of collaboration and outreach to those in need in the cities of the participants in the United States. The dialogue deepened overall relationships as a basis for future cooperation and shared values, and it strengthened mutual understandings on human suffering and means of liberation. The group was honored to meet Pope Francis during their time together, who offered them a message of support for their ongoing dialogue.
At the conclusion of the event, participants were asked to return to their communities to explore joint interreligious and social initiatives, including the following:
- Global and local climate change,
- Youth outreach and programs,
- Ministries for prison/jails and restorative justice,
- Initiatives for the homeless, including but not limited to affordable housing,
- Educating and providing resources around the issue of immigration,
- Collaborating to create projects with local Catholic parishes and Buddhist communities to address neighborhood social issues,
- Developing social outreach programs for value education to families and
- Witnessing our shared commitment as brothers and sisters, our religious values and spiritual practices and our social collaboration with our religious communities and others in our cities.
Following their return to Chicago, the Catholic and Buddhist delegates determined that the local dialogue would focus on anti-violence efforts. They participated in a major event, Awaken Chicago, with the Shambhala Meditation Center. Subsequent events have been held at the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii offering interreligious resources for dealing with anger and its contributions to a climate of violence. Members of the Catholic-Buddhist dialogue marched with Cardinal Cupich in the Anti-Violence March through Englewood on Good Friday 2017. Efforts continue at the Shrine to offer respite for those in spiritual need.
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Below are statements from Vatican Radio on the event:
- Buddhists, Catholics call for closer cooperation on shared values
- Buddhists, Catholics begin new dialogue on 'suffering, liberation, fraternity'