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Catholic leaders send greetings for Buddha's birth

UCANews, April 28, 2006

SEOUL, South Korea -- Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk of Seoul has issued a message greeting all Buddhists in South Korea on the occasion of Vesak. Cardinal Cheong said in his April 26 message, "I congratulate all Buddhists on the occasion of Buddha's birthday this spring, when all creation comes into new being." This year Korean Buddhists will celebrate Vesak, the holiday commemorating Gautama Buddha's birth, on May 5.

The cardinal observed that although Buddha bestowed universal compassion and goodwill on people, to this day conflict, hate, hostility and many kinds of discrimination are prevalent in the world. "That is why we need Buddha's teaching more and more. We believe that we can solve the problems by following Buddha's compassion and practicing love, which is the fundamental teaching of all religions," he said.

Mentioning that Pope Benedict XVI has stressed interreligious dialogue and harmony in this pluralistic age, Cardinal Cheong expressed his intention to help build a peaceful society through more active interfaith dialogue that results in all people contributing to promote the common good.

On April 25, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea (CBCK) sent its Korean translation of the Vatican's annual Vesak message to the Jogye Order, the nation's largest Buddhist denomination, and to Church-run and secular media.

The message, "Buddhists and Christians at the Service of Humanity," was signed by Archbishop Michael L. Fitzgerald as president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue before Pope Benedict reassigned him in February as apostolic nuncio to Egypt and to the Arab League.

The Jogye Order posted the translated Vatican message on its Web site (http://www.buddhism.or.kr), along with Cardinal Cheong's message.

Meanwhile, Venerable Beopjeon, patriarch of the Jogye Order, issued a Vesak message on April 25. In it he wrote: "Those who open the sharp eye of discernment in anguish will see the Buddha. Those who are awakened to redemption in love will see Jesus."

The Buddhist leader urged the people to see the living Buddha in all people they meet daily. He said that Samantabhadra Bodhisattva (pervading goodness of highly enlightened beings) and Maitreya (the merciful Buddha) are everywhere.

"Though one may search everywhere and never find the place in this world where it exists, within the truth of 'everything is Buddha' the essence of reality is revealed and the infinite light is laid out before us all," the Jogye leader explained.

An official of the order told UCA News on April 27 that Buddhists would hold a Vesak ceremony in the Jogye Temple in downtown Seoul on May 5, at which time Venerable Beopjeon's message and congratulatory messages from other religions would be presented in public.

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