VATICAN CITY, APRIL 9, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See sent a message to Buddhists proposing a joint commitment in defense of human life, threatened in myriad ways by the culture of death.
The message was sent by Cardinal Francis Arinze, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, on the occasion of the traditional celebration of Vesakh, the most important Buddhist feast. The feast is celebrated in countries of Therevada tradition on May 19, and in countries of Mahayana tradition on April 8.
The cardinal began his message by referring to the tragic events of Sept. 11. "Since then, people throughout the world have felt a new fear for the future," he said.
"In the midst of such fear, would it not be our duty, as Christians and Buddhists, together with all people of good will, to encourage hope and to build a culture based on this hope, in order to contribute to a more peaceful world in the future?" the cardinal asked.
"We are living in an era marked by great technological progress. This raises questions about the promotion of human values," the cardinal continued.
One "of the most important human values is doubtlessly the right to life, to be protected from the moment of conception up to the moment of natural death," he added.
"However, it must be considered a serious paradox that this right to life is threatened precisely by today's highly advanced technology," the cardinal observed.
"Such a paradox has reached the extent of creating a culture of death, in which abortion, euthanasia and genetic experiments on human life itself have already obtained, or are on the way to obtaining, legal recognition," the Nigerian cardinal lamented.
"How can we not make a correlation between this culture of death, in which the most innocent, defenseless and critically ill human lives are threatened with death, and terrorist attacks, such as those of Sept. 11, in which thousands of innocent people were slaughtered?" the cardinal queried.
"We must say that both of these are built on contempt for human life," he affirmed.
Given the situation, Cardinal Arinze concluded by proposing the education of youth as a priority, "so that strong ethical convictions and a culture of life may prevail among them."
ZENIT News Agency, The World Seen from Rome