Bhante, I would really like to challenge you to justify why you think it is appropriate to your role (as a monk, or simply as a "full-time Buddhist" generally) to show up and smear the (none-too-fine) distinctions between the religions, and roll out the whitewash and red carpet for one of the most infamous, brutal, corrupt organisations in the world (leaving aside the fact that it is a "false" religion), viz., Catholicism.Posted by E.M. in a snarky mood.
Smearing over the differences between religions is certainly not my idea of valid inter-faith dialogue. There are many important doctrinal differences between Buddhism and Catholicism and I didn't have the impression at this conference that anyone was trying to avoid that. I am very critical of writers who take the line that all religions are the same underneath. (Perennial philosophy)
However, I also think it is healthy and useful for religions to meet and discuss together in an attitude of harmony. What's the alternative? Sectarian bigotry and narrow dogmatism.
I also don't fully subscribe to the characterization of Catholicism or Christianity in general as a "false religion." Even in narrow Buddhist exegesis it would be called a "partial" religion; any belief system which promotes moral behaviour and teaches that there are consequences of good and evil deeds falls within the elephant's footprint.
Whatever the history of the Catholic Church, and we all know about that, the brothers of the Benedictine Order that I met are good, spiritually minded men who are have aspirations beyond the worldly realm. That is rare enough in these degenerate days that it ill behooves us to strain at gnats because we have metaphysical differences. The real problem these days is not the Church, but the overwhelmingly materialist zeitgeist. And I would say that the Catholics have not bought into this like most of the Protestants.
Religious tolerance is something the world needs more of. I think the Church is to be commended for overcoming their past history of triumphalism and reaching out to talk to other religions. By doing so, we don't jeopardize the integrity of our own faiths. On the contrary, the contrast sharpens our mutual understanding.