AIA Member organisation, the Institute of Jainology (IoJ) met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on 1 June 2016.
The Institute of Jainology (IoJ), the international Jain organisation promoting Jainism in government and inter-religious affairs, led its third delegation to the Vatican to meet with the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue (PCID). The last two meetings were in 1995 and 2011.
The 35- strong international Jain delegation was led by Mr Nemu Chandaria, Chairman of the IoJ and had Jain leaders from the UK, India and the Middle East. The delegations discussed the topic of ‘Taking care of the Earth, the home of the human family’. Dr Mehool H Sanghrajka, Director of the IoJ, presented a paper from the Jain perspective in which he said; “The signs of our environmental damage are all around us. Degradation of the environment and climate change are already causing great suffering. Unchecked consumerism and wastefulness, the hallmarks of modern life, continue to cause irreparable damage to the planet. From a Jain perspective, taking care of the earth is not merely concern for the environment. It is far deeper, and rooted at the heart of Jain preaching. Co-existing with all other forms of life in an interdependent world, is about not causing harm to our fellow souls, and sin to one’s self.”
The Jain delegation and the PCID issued a joint press communique in which they called upon ‘the followers of both religious traditions to promote respect for the environment, non-exploitation of natural resources, reduction of wastefulness, care for all forms of life, and concern for future generations’. The full text is available here.
Following the meeting, the delegation had a private audience with HH Pope Francis. Expressing his joy at the encounter, Pope Francis welcomed the Jains saying that “this encounter nurtures our responsibility to care for creation”, and calling creation a “gift that we have all received” he said “creation is God’s mirror, the mirror of the Creator, the mirror of nature, and it is our mirror too.”
“We all love mother Earth, because she is the one who has given us life and safeguards us; I would also call her sister Earth, who accompanies us during the journey of our existence. Our duty is to take care of her just as we would take care of a mother or of a sister, with responsibility, with tenderness and with peace” he said. His Holiness’ comments were reported on the Radio Vatican site.
Mr Nemu Chandaria, Chairman of the IoJ, commented; “We have mutual respect and friendship with the Catholic Church that has been built over two decades. We look forward to deepening cooperation at local levels whilst calling for responsible stewardship of the natural world”.
The Institute of Jainology (IoJ) was founded in 1986 and is an international organisation promoting Jain philosophy and values through the disciplines of art, culture and education. It represents the Jain faith in government and inter-faith matters in the UK and elsewhere. Over its 25 year history, the IoJ has co-hosted the Peaceful Liberators exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum London, published the Catalogue of the Jain Collection at the British Library, and launched the Jainpedia.org encyclopaedia. For more information see http://www.jainology.org and http://www.jainpedia.org.