ROME — The Vatican is urging Buddhists to work with Christians to combat corruption, saying corrupt political, business and religious leaders put lives at risk, damage the environment and threaten governance.
The Vatican’s interreligious dialogue office issued a message to Buddhists to mark the holiday of Vesak, which is celebrated at different times around Asia and the Indian subcontinent.
In the message published Wednesday, the Vatican said the “evil” of corruption cannot be met with silence, and urged Buddhists and Christians to work with media and civil society to expose corruption and hold white-collar criminals accountable.
“People are scandalized by incompetent and corrupt politicians, ineffective legislation and the failure to investigate major corruption cases,” said the message – signed by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the head of the Vatican’s office for inter-religious affairs.
“Dear friends, as Buddhists, you regard corruption as an unwholesome state of mind that causes suffering and contributes to an unhealthy society. You identify three principal toxins – greed, hate, and delusion or ignorance – as sources of this social scourge that must be eliminated for the good of the individual and society,” the message continued.
It warned that populist movements backed by religious fundamentalists have arisen to protest the law-and-order breakdown.
“Even though, both our religious traditions firmly denounce the evil of corruption, we sadly acknowledge that some of our followers participate in corrupt practices and this leads to bad governance, corporate bribery and the pillaging of national assets,” the message said.
“Corruption puts lives at risks for it is connected to low economic growth, weak investment, inflation, monetary devaluation, tax evasion, great inequality, poor education, sub-standard infrastructure, and the degradation of environment. It also threatens the health and safety of individuals and communities. People are scandalized by incompetent and corrupt politicians, ineffective legislation and the failure to investigate major corruption cases,” it continued.
Vesak commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha in the Theravada tradition of Buddhism.
Crux staff contributed to this report.