In a message to its Buddhist partners, World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit offered greetings on the day of Vesakh, which celebrates the founder of the faith, Siddhartha Gautama.
The United Nations recognizes 20 May as Vesakh Day in 2016.
“As you celebrate the Buddhist feast of Vesakh, I send you greetings of goodwill on behalf of the World Council of Churches,” reads the message. “During this season of the commemoration of the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha, the message of freedom from suffering becomes all the more relevant in a world faced with escalating challenges of migration, climate change and violence.”
“The challenge to overcome suffering makes it opportune and important for different religions to come together to work for the well-being of all,” Tveit continued. “A significant contribution of religions to a world running the risk of becoming fragmented and rendered more fragile by forces of exclusion and exploitation, is to help discover the inter-connectedness of all creation.”
With reference to the WCC’s pilgrimage of justice and peace, Tveit concluded: “At the heart of this pilgrimage is the idea of accompaniment. Recognising that the strength of accompaniment lies in the quality of mutuality, we are committed to accompanying neighbours of different faith persuasions while at the same time inviting neighbours of different faith persuasions to join churches in the common quest for justice and peace.
The WCC has a longstanding commitment to developing inter-religious dialogue and cooperation with Buddhists.