ROME — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Buddhists and Christians must find more ways to be united in serving the human family, said Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

“The current world situation, tragically marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, challenges the followers of all religions to collaborate in new ways at the service of the human community,” the cardinal said in a message marking the Buddhist celebration of Vesakh.

Each spring, the pontifical council sends its best wishes to Buddhists around the world for Vesakh, a feast commemorating key events in the life of the Buddha. The message for 2021 was released by the Vatican May 26.

“The suffering caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has made us aware of our shared vulnerability and interdependence. We are called to discover and practice the solidarity enshrined in our respective religious traditions,” Ayuso said.

The cardinal expressed his hope that the dramatic situation caused by the pandemic would “strengthen our bonds of friendship and further unite us in service to the human family, adopting ‘a culture of dialogue as the path, mutual cooperation as the code of conduct; reciprocal understanding as the method and standard,'” he said, citing Pope Francis’s encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship.”