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Fo Guang Shan Monastery offers help for Notre Dame restoration

2019/04/19 19:46:03

The Notre Dame Cathedral / CNA file photo

Vatican, April 19 (CNA) Taiwanese Buddhist order Fo Guang Shan Monastery (佛光山寺) expressed sadness at the fire that engulfed Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and offered assistance to restore the iconic church.

In a letter to Pope Francis dated April 16, Fo Guang Shan's abbot Hsin Bau (心保和尚) expressed sorrow and condolences for the "tragic fire" at Notre Dame.

"Apart from offering our deepest sympathy, Fo Guang Shan is also willing to contribute to the reconstruction of the Notre Dame Cathedral in many ways," Hsin Bau said.

The letter, which was released to the media on Friday, will be delivered to the Vatican through Taiwan's embassy to the Holy See in Rome.

The monastery said it understood the significance of the Notre Dame Cathedral, noting the important status of Notre Dame in history, literature and the arts.

Hsin Bau also noted the longstanding friendship between the monastery and the Vatican in the letter.

"My Master, Venerable Master Hsing Yun, has made interfaith exchanges with Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict VXI. He has also sent delegations to the Vatican on several occasions to visit Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis," according to the letter.

The letter said Hsing Yun also had a deep relationship with late Cardinal Paul Shan Kuo-hsi in Taiwan, and Fo Guang Shan had held several interfaith conversations and exchanges with Catholic churches.

"Our faiths have different histories and origins. However, we can learn from and share with each other regarding our past and present responsibilities to society," the letter said.

"In our increasingly unstable and uncertain world, the importance of interfaith exchanges between Catholicism and Buddhism is even more evident."

The monastery lamented that the devastation suffered by Notre Dame is not only a loss for Catholicism but also a great loss to the world's religions, describing the 850-year-old Gothic masterpiece as a a legendary work of architecture and "an important icon and a sacred place of Catholicism."

The cathedral was engulfed by flames on Monday, causing its spire and roof to collapse in front of thousands of shocked onlookers.

It took firemen about 15 hours to extinguish the blaze, and French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to rebuild the Gothic masterpiece within five years.

(By Huang Ya-shih and Emerson Lim)