Holy See: Message for Buddhist Feast of Vesakh, “combating corruption”

“To promote a culture free of corruption”, for this phenomenon, “involving the abuse of positions of power for personal gain, both within the public or private sectors”, has become “such a pervasive scandal in today’s world” that the United Nations has designated 9 December as International Anti-Corruption Day. This is the appeal made by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue to Buddhists in a message of good wishes on the occasion of the Feast of Vesakh, which is celebrated on 29 May. As corruption “becomes more widespread, governments, non-governmental organizations, the media, and citizens around the world are joining together to combat this heinous crime”, the message released today and signed by Card. Jean-Louis Tauran reads. “As religious leaders, we too must contribute to fostering a culture imbued with lawfulness and transparency”, the message continues, in line with the Pope’s prayer intention for the month of February, in which the Pontiff acknowledged that corruption “is found throughout the world among politicians, business executives and clerics” and recalled that “those who ultimately pay the price for corruption” are the poor. “Even though both our religious traditions firmly denounce the evil of corruption, we sadly acknowledge that some of our followers participate in corrupt practices and this leads to bad governance, corporate bribery and the pillaging of national assets”, the Holy See’s Dicastery admitted, warning that “corruption puts lives at risks for it is connected to low economic growth, weak investment, inflation, monetary devaluation, tax evasion, great inequality, poor education, sub-standard infrastructure, and the degradation of environment. It also threatens the health and safety of individuals and communities. People are scandalized by incompetent and corrupt politicians, ineffective legislation and the failure to investigate major corruption cases. Populist movements, sometimes motivated and sustained by religious fundamentalism, have arisen to protest the breakdown of public integrity”. “We Buddhists and Christians, rooted in our respective ethical teachings, must work together to prevent corruption by eradicating its underlying causes and to root out corruption where it exists”, the appeal reads: “In this effort, our main contribution will be to encourage our respective followers to grow in moral integrity and a sense of fairness and responsibility. Our common commitment to combating corruption must include cooperating with the media and civil society in preventing and exposing corruption; creating public awareness of corruption; holding white-collar criminals who plunder national assets accountable for their actions, regardless of their ethnic, religious, political, or class affiliations; teaching and inspiring all people, but especially politicians and public servants, to act with the utmost fiscal integrity; calling for due legal process to recover assets that are stolen through corruption and bringing to justice those responsible for this crime: encouraging more women to participate in politics; refusing to entrust with public office those engaged in illegal activities; and introducing transparent and inclusive institutions based on the rule of law for good governance, accountability, and integrity”.

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