VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Buddhists and Christians must “cooperate together to end the social plague” of modern slavery, said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

“Dear friends, we share the conviction that modern slavery and human trafficking are grave crimes, open wounds on the body of contemporary society,” said the message to Buddhists around the world.

Signed by Cardinal Tauran and by Comboni Father Miguel Ayuso Guixot, council secretary, the message referred to the “Eightfold Path,” one of the foundations of Buddhism.

In the Buddhist principle of “Right Livelihood,” they said, “the Buddha declares that trading live beings, including slaves and prostitutes, is one of five occupations that are no longer to be engaged in.”

In addition, they said, the core values of Buddhism promote respect for the life and freedom of each person.

Cardinal Tauran and Father Ayuso noted how important the issue is to Pope Francis and cited his message for the 2015 World Day of Peace, “No Longer Slaves, but Brothers and Sisters,” which was dedicated to the millions of people today living in conditions of slavery.

Each spring, the pontifical council sends its best wishes to Buddhists around the world for Vesakh, a feast commemorating key events in the life of the Buddha.

Cardinal Tauran offered his prayers for the Veskah celebration in hopes that it will be a time to make “special efforts to bring happiness to those less fortunate in our midst.”

Vesakh is celebrated on different days in different countries; this year, it will be May 3 in some nations, while in others the celebrations will take place between May 25 and June 2.