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Thai Monks Meet with Pope in Ongoing Peace and Fraternity Dialogues


Pope Francis met with a delegation of Buddhist monks from the prestigious Bangkok monastery Wat Pho on 27 May. Speaking with the monks, the pontiff emphasized the need for continued cooperative and inclusive efforts to bring support and progress to a world in crisis.

Buddhists and Christians must be willing to work together to “bring a ray of hope to a desperate humanity,” Pope Francis observed. (Catholic Review)

During the meeting at the Vatican, the Pope recalled the Buddhist-Christian colloquium in Thailand in November 2023, which brought 150 participants from across Asia to reflect on the theme of healing humanity and the Earth. “Today, humanity and the Earth, our common home, are indeed wounded!” he said. “So many wars, so many people who have lost everything and have been forced to flee, so many children affected by violence.” (Catholic Review)

This week’s gathering concluded with a consensus agreement that all parties need to collaborate toward peace and healing in our increasingly interconnected world.

“In light of this truth, I urge you to work together with everyone: civil society, members of other religions, governments, international organizations, academic and scientific communities, and all other interested parties to promote a friendship that sustains peace and fraternity and builds a more inclusive world,” he emphasized. (Catholic Review)

Pope Francis also reflected on his visit to Thailand in 2019, where he met with the supreme patriarch of Thailand’s Buddhist community, Somdej Phra Maha Muneewong, and recalled their discussion on fostering a culture of encounter and mutual respect.

“The culture of encounter is possible, not only within our communities but also in our world, so prone to creating and spreading conflict and exclusion,” the Pope told the Supreme Patriarch during their 2019 meeting. “When we have the opportunity to appreciate and esteem one another in spite of our differences, we offer a word of hope to the world, which can encourage and support those who increasingly suffer the harmful effects of conflict.” (Catholic Review)

The November 2023 colloquium in Thailand aimed to bridge gaps between religious traditions, fostering dialogue and understanding. Participants explored various topics, including environmental sustainability, social justice, and spiritual healing, reflecting a shared commitment to addressing global issues.

The meeting furthers the longstanding relationship between Buddhism and other religious traditions in Thailand and beyond. The country has a history of religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue, with Buddhist principles often guiding national policies and cultural practices. This background provides a supportive environment for recent meetings and the ongoing efforts to promote peace and harmony.

Thailand has a rich Buddhist tradition, with 93.5 per cent of its population practicing Theravada Buddhism. According to data from 2018, Muslims account for 5.4 per cent of the population while Christians account for 1.1 per cent. According to the Vatican, there are around 325,000 Catholics in Thailand. Buddhism plays a central role in Thai culture, influencing social norms, festivals, and daily life. Wat Pho, known for housing the famous reclining Buddha statue, is a significant religious site and a center for Buddhist education and practice.

See more

Pope tells Christians, Buddhists to work together for peace (Catholic Review)
Pope to Buddhists: ‘Let’s work together for a more inclusive world’ (Vatican News)
Pope Francis urges Thai Buddhist monks to promote peace, fraternity (La Croix International)

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