Pope Francis recently received a Buddhist delegation from Thailand’s Sangha Assembly in Chetuphon, comprising 33 monks of the Theravada and Mahayana schools, led by Somdej PhraMahaTheerajarn. He was also accompanied by 60 lay Buddhists and several representatives of the Catholic Church in Thailand.
In his address, the pontiff said Catholics and Buddhists must work together “to nurture compassion and hospitality for all human beings, especially the poor and the marginalized.”
The meeting marked the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and the 17th Buddhist Supreme Patriarch of Thailand, Somdej PhraWannarat on June 5, 1972.
The visit included a conference on “Friendship between Buddhists and Christians for a Culture of Encounter” at the Pontifical Urbaniana University.
Francis also mentioned two other meetings, namely that by a Thai delegation in 2018 – with the translation of an ancient Buddhist manuscript in the Pali language, preserved in the Vatican Library – and a papal visit to Thailand in November 2019. Such expressions of friendship point to a precious path for humanity today.
The pope noted that both the Buddha and Jesus understood “the need to overcome the selfishness that generates conflict and violence.”(NNT)