Angeles Buddhist Catholic Dialogue
September 9, 2001
St. Francis Xavier Church (Maryknoll)
Present: Visitors from Chikushi Jogakuen University, Fukuoka,
Japan: Prof. Masanori Nakagawa, Rev. Ichigyo Oyama,, Prof.
Tomoyuki Uno, Prof. Kuriyama, Prof. Dennis Hirota; Rev. Gregory
G. Gibbs of Los Angeles Hompa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, Rev.
Noriaki Ito, Sr. Thomas Bernard, Al ALbergate, Fr. Jim Fredericks,
Lucy Palermino and Mary Ann Gould of the World Community for
Christian Meditation, members of St. Francis Xavier Church,
and Dr. Michael Kerze.
Prof. Uno specializes in Indian philosophy and Jainism.
Prof. Oyama is
a minister at a Shin Buddhist temple in Chikushi and specializes
in the thought of Shinran. He has experience of interreligious
dialogue at the conference of the Society of Buddhist Christian
Studies, at conference at Harvard, and at a Christian Buddhist
Dialogue held at his university.
is a Jodo Shin minister and is a scholar of Indian Buddhism
and a Sanskritist. His interest is in starting a hospice movement
is the resident minister at a temple and teaches Buddhism
and Japanese intellectual history and literature at the university.
Prof. Dennis Hirota
grew up in Berkeley, went to Japan (where he met Nori Ito)
and has been translating the works of Shinran over the last
23 years. He teaches comparative culture at the university.
Ven. Karuna Dharma and Dr. Michael Kerze, co-chairs of the
dialogue, welcomed the guests and talked about the benefits
of dialogue for the Los Angeles Buddhist and Catholic communities
and the importance of the dialogue on a national level. We
are more than a dialogue after more than a decade of dialoguing;
we are a community.
Prof. Dennis Hirota
inquired about the pastoral benefits of the dialogue, especially
how the dialogue extends itself to the wider communities and
about issues of dying and death.
Rev. Ito pointed
out that we tell our congregations about the dialogue, filtering
down the experience to them.
discussed how most of us are religious professionals and/or
academics for whom intellectual and doctrinal issues are important
but also how important the dialogue has been for him to advise
Buddhist students who seek him out at Loyola Marymount University
and who he can connect to Buddhist dialogue members and that
Buddhist friends teach in his classes. At Maryknoll many parishioners
ask questions about their Buddhist relatives and the dialogue
helps him answer.
Ven. Karuna Dharma
discussed her prison ministry conducted over the internet.
The dialogue has helped her enormously to deal with the problems
they have with prison chaplains who dont know about
Buddhism. She will send copies of the LA dialogues An
Early Journey publication to them, to parishioners and
to their parents.
told about her experience in meditation sessions with Buddhists
and how in the silence of meditation deep bonds are created.
Fr. Fredericks asked the guests if they are involved in local
interreligious dialogues. They pointed out that the numbers
of members of other religions is relatively small and that
in Japan Buddhists of different schools may not talk to each
Rev. Ito remarked
that young priests from Japan have little idea of the world
outside of Jodo Shinshu and discussed how Reuben Habito, a
former Catholic priest and a zen master, teaches comparative
religion to future Methodist ministers at Southern Methodist
University in Texas.
Sr. Thomas Bernard discussed pastoral issues about death and
dying, how central compassion is, and how that is where care
for the dying begins. Why is it a concern.
and Oyama talked about religion in Japan, how many of the
dying have no religion for religion is just for marriage,
birth, and funerals. How can you teach people about being
reborn in the Pure Land if they have never had experience
with Buddhist teaching. How can a dialogue happen?
In Roman Catholicism,
Fr. Fredericks said, there are many rituals for the dying
last rites, confession, last communion, for example.
Catholics call upon a priest for the rituals when they are
dying. In Japan its different because most rites are
for the dead, not the dying.
Prof. Oyama pointed
out that in Japan, Buddhism relates only to death, not dying.
If a Buddhist priest goes to a hospital its very problematical
for the patient; it means they are about to die.
Al Albergate discussed
how Soka Gakkai International in the United States is a lay
movement. Once a month people meet in neighborhood groups
and there issues of the sick or dying can be addressed. They
pray together and provide a network for support.
discussed a program at St. Marys hospital in San Francisco
where the Catholic priest there is working with Buddhists
and Ken Tanaka training Buddhists from local communities to
Ven. Karuna Dharma
pointed out that in Vietnamese and Theravada Buddhism , priests
and monks are called to help and chant for the sick.
discussed the transformation of the sacrament once known as
Extreme Unction performed for the dying to a sacrament anointing
for the sick, retrieving the original practice of the sacrament.
It is no longer extreme.
Lucy Palerimo noted
that the healing is not just physical but emotional. The emphasis
is on the whole person.
Sr. Thomas Bernard
asked if the guests saw the possibility of doing something
like this in Japan.
Prof. Oyama said
he would like to try and establish a dialogue, including an
pointed out the diversity of the Buddhists in our dialogue
group. Not only is the Los Angeles dialogue a Buddhist Catholic
dialogue but also a Buddhist-Buddhist dialogue.
On Monday and Tuesday the guests from Japan will be giving
lectures and discussions at Loyola Marymount University.