Buddhists and Catholics joined Pope Francis for an ecumenical dialogue on “Suffering, Liberation and Fraternity” in Rome June 23-27.

The participants came from the papal meeting agreeing to work together to create youth outreach programs, collaborate in prison ministries and provide resources to address the immigration crisis, among other initiatives.  

Representing Los Angeles at the papal meeting were David Fields, executive director of St. Vincent de Paul of Los Angeles, and the Father Alexei R. Smith, ecumenical and interreligious affairs officer for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

“It was the start of great collaboration between the Buddhists and the Catholics,” said Fields.

Forty-five Buddhists and Catholics attended the meeting, flying in from New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. The American Buddhist leaders represented the countries of Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Tibet, China and Korea.

Among the Catholic participants were representatives from Catholic Charities, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the Focolare Movement, Monastic Interreligious Dialogue, and the Catholic Association for Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers.