PONTIFICAL COUNCIL for INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE

Welcome Address

His Ex. Salvatore Pennacchio,

Apostolic Nuncio, India and Nepal

February 2015

Excellency’s, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to extend to each one of you a very warm welcome on the occasion of the 5th Buddhist-Christian Colloquium at this sacred and historic place, Bodh Gaya.

 As the Representative of the Holy Father in India, I bring to you the spiritual closeness and blessings of His Holiness Pope Francis, as a sign of his warm friendship to all of you and of his deep interest for fraternal interreligious dialogue.

 It is an opportune time to hold this Buddhist-Christian Colloquium immediately after the visit of Pope Francis to our neighbouring Sri Lanka, predominantly a Buddhist country. In his address at the Interreligious gathering, Pope Francis noted: 

"These praiseworthy initiatives have provided opportunities for dialogue, which is essential if we are to know, understand and respect one another.  But, as experience has shown, for such dialogue and encounter to be effective, it must be grounded in a full and forthright presentation of our respective convictions. [...] But if we are honest in presenting our convictions, we will be able to see more clearly what we hold in common. New avenues will be opened for mutual esteem, cooperation and indeed friendship."( Interreligious and Ecumenical Gathering, Address of His Holiness Pope Francis, Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall, Colombo, 13 January 2015)

It is gratifying to note that the program of the Colloquium covers a wide range of very interesting themes related to the vision of Pope Francis, namely interreligious dialogue will contribute toward a mutual understanding and respect among followers of different religions.  I am sure that  this Colloquium will generate mutual esteem and friendship among us and lead us to mutual cooperation on the basis of our common values.

 Today, fraternity in the world is threatened and certain fundamentalist movements are creating confusion among people. Our presence here today is a testimony to our common desire of collaborating  together so as to build a world of peace and fraternity. 

 In concluding I wish you every success in your deliberations and a very pleasant stay in India.