Religions Co-exist in Harmony in Viet Nam

Returning from the international conference “Buddhism in the New Age – Opportunities and Challenges” held in HCMC, Most Venerable Thich Tri Quang, Vice Chairman of Vietnam Buddhist Shangha’s Management Board and Chairman of HCMC Buddhist Shangha’s Management Board had a talk with  Sai Gon Giai Phong Newspaper about religions and Buddhism in Viet Nam.

Most Venerable Thich Tri Quang (Photo:Uyen Phuong)

The superior monk went straight to the topic “the harmony of religions”, saying that “Rarely in any other country in the world do several religions co-exist in harmony without any conflict among followers, or among religions themselves. The harmony of religions has been going on along with the country’s development”.

Co-existence for development

To prove “the harmony of religions”, he said on the occasion of Buddha’s birthday, Cardinal Pham Minh Man, Catholic Archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese, always visits Viet Nam Buddhist Shangha and talks with him about the beliefs of religions.

“We have heart-to-heart talks about the development of each religion. At Christmas, I also spend one day visiting him. Our close friendship stems from religious activities of the country in general and Ho Chi Minh City in particular over the past years”, he said.

* Reporter: What else can prove “the harmony of religions”, Sir?

* Mr. Thich Tri Quang: The harmony of religions is demonstrated by various activities. On annual great days of Islam, Hoahaoism, Protestantism or Caodaism, we exchange visits and congratulate on the development of religions.

This year, the HCMC Fatherland Front Committee held a meeting between all religions. Representatives of various religions had a chance to meet and exchange views on religions. That was so helpful, and we also agree to hold many more activities to strengthen the harmony of religions.

* Recently, some overseas reactionaries abuse religious and ethnic issues to incite religious followers, thus causing the separation of religions. They even say that there is no freedom of religion in Viet Nam and many religious activities are prohibited…

* Those are groundless fabrications. Those people have left the country for some reasons to live abroad, so they lack information about internal affairs and have been incited by some hostile forces.

Obviously, any returning overseas Vietnamese can see the development of the country, including the development of religions.

Vietnamese people and foreign visitors have a same comment that Viet Nam’s best advantages are the harmony of religions and the State’s support for the operation of all religions.

* You have paid many visits abroad to attend religious activities over the past years. In these forums, what did other countries say about religious activities in Viet Nam, especially Buddhist activities?

When addressing at Buddhist international forums, I always take the example of “the harmony of religions” to highlight the freedom of religions in Viet Nam.

In the recent Buddhist international conference held in Ho Chi Minh City, over 80 Buddhist dignitaries, intellectuals and clergymen from various countries in the world were surprised at the development of Vietnamese Buddhism and the freedom of religions in our country.

Vietnamese Buddhism develops ten times as much

Monks and nuns attend a Buddhist requiem in Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, HCMC.

* Mr. Thich Tri Quang: “About the development of Vietnamese Buddhism, I want to cite a famous saying of late Most Venerable Thich Tri Thu, former Chairman of the Vietnamese Buddhist Shangha’s Management Board: “History always forges ahead; today will be the past of tomorrow. We always respect, follow and inherit the achievements made by our predecessors, but it is not necessary to repeat the past. For the sake of Buddhism and the country’s interests, every of us must unite and forget all about our differences to target at the unification of Buddhism as our ancestors wished”.

* Buddhism – Nation – Socialism is the orientation of the Viet Nam Buddhist Shangha to date. What is you comment on the development of Vietnamese Buddhism?

* It is a common knowledge that Vietnamese Buddhism is developing faster than ever. The number of Buddhist monks and nuns is ten times as many as before 1975.

In Ho Chi Minh City, there are now over 6,000 monks and nuns and more than 1,000 pagodas. Our Buddhist disciples are well-qualified, and voluntary followers must be qualified for at least twelfth-grade education to be recognized as monks or nuns.

It can be stated that the development of Vietnamese Buddhism over the past years has justified the orientation. The target of Buddhism in Viet Nam coincides with that of the State and Party: striving for the national interests, and Buddhism has always been along with the nation.

In the past years, the development of the national economy has improved people’s living standards, strengthening Buddhist followers’ belief in the country.

* Thank you.

By Hoai Nam – Translated by Thuy Hang

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