Buddhists, Christians know eco-crisis is an 'ego-crisis,' cardinal says

Junno Arocho Esteves

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Knowing the deterioration of the environment is due to humanity's greed and selfishness, Buddhists and Christians must work together to promote lifestyle changes that respect nature, said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

The teachings of Buddhism and Christianity, he said, show "a shared understanding that at the center of the eco-crisis is, in fact, an ego-crisis, expressed by human greed, anxiety, arrogance and ignorance," the cardinal said in a message marking the Buddhist celebration of Vesakh.

Each year, the pontifical council sends greetings to Buddhists around the world for the feast which commemorates three significant events in the life of the Buddha: his birth, his enlightenment and his death.

The message for 2016 was released by the Vatican Friday.

Recalling Pope Francis' encyclical "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home," Tauran said the current ecological crisis is a call for a "profound interior conversion" that adds to the urgency of interreligious cooperation.

Because "the crisis of climate change is contributed to by human activity, we, Christians and Buddhists, must work together to confront it with an ecological spirituality," the cardinal wrote.

Additionally, Tauran said followers of all religions must "transcend their boundaries" and collaborate in building an ecologically responsible society.

Catholics and Buddhists, in particular, can promote the planet's health and sustainability through joint initiatives and educational programs aimed at raising ecological awareness, Tauran said.

"Dear Buddhist friends, may we cooperate together in liberating humanity from the suffering brought about by climate change and contribute to the care of our common home," he wrote.

Some countries observe Vesakh May 14, while others celebrate May 20-21.

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