Pope Francis on Thursday met with a group from Taiwan’s United Association of Humanistic Buddhism, Chunghua, calling the visit a privileged occasion that made the encounter between different religious cultures possible.
The association led a delegation of more than 100 people to the Vatican under the invitation of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the Taiwanese embassy to the Holy See said.
The visit is to “promote interreligious exchange and communication in the post-pandemic era,” it added.
Photo courtesy of the Embassy to the Holy See
The group met with Pope Francis to pray for people around the world to resolve international conflicts and “cast light into the darkness,” the embassy said.
Buddhist master Hsin Bao (心保) of the Fo Guang Shan (佛光山) monastery presented two portraits of the pope created by Taiwanese children as gifts, it said.
The paintings symbolize the pope’s great love for the world and the blessings from Taiwan, Hsin Bao said, adding that the trip aims to promote tolerance and harmony between Eastern and Western religions, the embassy said.
The pope said the portraits were impressive, and expressed his hope to promote cross-cultural dialogue and world peace through religious exchanges, it said.
At a time marked by “a continued acceleration of changes affecting humanity and the planet,” religions are needed more than ever to foster fraternity by promoting cultural encounters, Vatican News cited the Pope as saying.
“An interreligious educational pilgrimage can be a source of great enrichment, offering multiple opportunities for us to encounter one another, to learn from one another and to appreciate our various experiences,” the pope was quoted as saying.
After meeting Francis, the delegation attended the “Five Loaves and Two Fishes” art exhibition at the embassy to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his pontification.
The embassy on Tuesday hosted an opening ceremony for the exhibition, which features 27 sculptures by Taiwanese artist Tseng Ying-tung (曾英棟).
Inspired by the “miracle of the five loaves and two fishes” in the Gospel of John, the exhibition echoes Pope Francis’ third encyclical letter, Fratelli tutti (“All brothers”), Ambassador to the Holy See Matthew Lee (李世明) said.
The exhibition shows Taiwan to the world as a force for good, he said, adding that the nation enjoys cooperating with the Holy See in promoting world peace, democracy, human rights, humanitarian assistance and environmental protection.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Monday sent a message to the pope to wish him “good health, resilience and success as you continue to promote human dignity, fundamental rights, democracy and freedom across the world.”
“Together on the path of fraternity, justice and peace, Taiwan and the Holy See have been working to address significant challenges to help those most in need,” the president said.
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