THAILAND-ITALY Bangkok, a Buddhist university and Italian theologians discuss religion and peace

In the field of Summer school, the Faculty of Theology of Triveneto organized a seminar in collaboration with the International College of Buddhist Studies. The central theme was the idea of ​​a unit capable of respecting differences. The initiative is related to the presence of fidei donum missionaries from this Italian region in the diocese of Chiang Mai.

Bangkok () – A group of Italian theology students and graduates met in Thailand with members of Buddhist universities to discuss the issue of dialogue between religions and peace. An experience of the Summer school organized in Bangkok by the Faculty of Theology of Triveneto. We publish below the testimony of a participant in this initiative.

The first Summer school organized by the Faculty of Theology of Triveneto is taking place in Thailand (July 10-24, 2023). Accompanied by the rector Fr. Andrea Toniolo, by prof. Giulio Osto and Fr. Bruno Soppelsa (a fidei donum missionary in the framework of the collaboration project between the Triveneto Churches and the Chiang Mai diocese), seventeen students and alumni are living the great opportunity to deepen the themes of interreligious dialogue and the inculturation of the faith.

In the course of this experience we were received by the SME community located in Nonthaburi (Bangkok). The regional superior of Southeast Asia of PIME, Fr. Daniele Mazza, shared with us his personal experience of study and encounter with the reality of Theravāda Buddhism. Through him we had the opportunity to participate in the Seminar on Interreligious Peace in Multicultural Society, which was held at the IBSC (International College of Buddhist Studies) of the Bangkok Buddhist University.

The work of the seminar was inaugurated by the moderator Ven. Phra Sirichai Chayanboon and the warm welcome of Ven. Phramaha Somphong Khunakaro (IBSC Deputy Director). The first two interventions were by the representatives of the Italian delegation (Francesco Castiglioni and Filippo Visentin), and addressed the topics “Christian faith and peace: the path of dialogue” and “Fratelli tutti. Encyclical letter on fraternity and social friendship” . They then lectured on Ven. Phramaha Duangthip Pariyattidhari Pali IX (Director of the IBSC Peace Study Program Ph.D.) on global citizenship for peace, bikkhuni Maechee Narumon Jiwattanasuk, who presented a critical view of multiculturalism as a path to peace, and prof. Frank J. Hoffman on interfaith dialogue.

It was a special moment of meeting and debate, during which the Christian and Buddhist participants reflected together on dialogue as an instrument of peace, as a commitment of all and as a task that is given every day.

On several occasions it was made clear that building a peaceful world that respects differences is the responsibility of each person. Religions, recognizing peace and dialogue as a common goal, feel the need to join forces, to go beyond the divisions that condition our cultures, to focus on the unity of the human family.

How to put these words into practice? The Come. Phramaha Duangthip Pariyattidhari Pali IX, spoke about global citizenship, stressing the value of education, the need to cultivate compassion and empathy, and the importance of living intercultural experiences.

In this seminar we have confronted and educated each other, and we have shared the recognition of religious diversity as a gift and wealth. We have all recognized ourselves as “artisans of peace” who, through dialogue and reciprocal listening, have been able to share the qualities that characterize each one of the confessions and religious experiences, giving rise to “a space for exchange and mutual acceptance, strengthening the culture of encounter”, without relativizing “the differences that exist between us, but affirming the importance of having a plurality of experiences and visions that can be shared, because together we can always take care of each other”.

Our journey now continues towards Chae Hom and Chiang Mai, where we will have new experiences of enculturation and dialogue with greater awareness and responsibility, treasuring what we have received up to now.

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Written by Editor TLN

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