Dear Buddhist friends,
On behalf of the Catholic community, we extend to all of you our heartfelt and warmest wishes as you celebrate your most sacred festival of Vesak, remembering the birth, enlightenment and final nirvana of Gautama Buddha.
Indeed, enlightenment is what the world needs so desperately today. Greed for power and possessions, whether in politics, business or even in religious institutions, has driven many to use unlawful means to achieve their goals, often at the expense of the poor and putting lives at risk, so much so, that the United Nations has designated 9 December as International Anti-Corruption Day. Pope Francis has said that the only way out of corruption is service –“Because corruption comes from pride and arrogance, and service is humbling.” (Morning Meditation, Domus Santae Marthae, 16 June 2014)
Dear friends, in the Second Precept of Buddhism, “I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from taking that which is not given,” you too denounce corruption as a toxin that causes immense suffering and a disordered society. Not only does Buddhism disapprove of the act of taking what does not rightly belong to one, but Buddhist teachings also seek to enlighten the depraved mind that is corrupt so that it rises above all desire for temporal gratification.
Notwithstanding that both our religious traditions decry the evil of corruption; unfortunately some of our followers have not been spared this social scourge. May we combat corruption together, not with passive silence, but with an active re-commitment to fostering a culture imbued with lawfulness and transparency, and an environment free of material, political and spiritual corruption by living lives of honesty, integrity and service to others.
May Christ’s and Buddha’s way of life of detachment, wisdom and compassion inspire us all to do likewise. As Christians, we walk with you in cultivating a spirit of detachment for all earthly things which are passing so that we can put all we have to use towards the service of others. In this way, we will live a truly enlightened way of life, free from all attachments so as to be free for altruistic love.
In this spirit, we thank you for your dedication to building bridges of harmony and unity between us and the other religious traditions here in our country. I wish to thank your leaders for their warmth, friendship and hospitality towards us and support in strengthening religious harmony. Let us continue to inspire and collaborate with one another. May you have a joyous and peaceful feast day!
Most Rev William Goh, D. D., STL
Archbishop of Singapore
Msgr Philip Heng, S. J.
Vicar General (Interreligious Relations)