Buddhist and Christian diplomacies pursuing peace amidst the Second World War: Official communications between Thailand and the Vatican

  • Claudio Cicuzza Mahidol University


This article discloses and analyses a selection of letters, reports, and official missives exchanged between the Holy See and the governments of Thailand during the Second World War. The collected documents are kept in the Archives of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, in Rome, and contain evidence of the attempts made by the two diplomacies, one Christian and the other Buddhist, to establish a dialogue and find a solution to the pressing problems that were complicating the country’s already difficult situation during the world conflict. A beneficial solution to these problems was found by Thai diplomacy, based on a considered interpretation of Buddhist teachings and their fundamental tolerance, and by the Vatican, which not only recognised the value of this different religious thought but also Thailand’s complex position within the balance of powers in Southeast Asia in the mid-20th century.


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Author Biography

Claudio Cicuzza, Mahidol University

Claudio Cicuzza (currently a professor at Mahidol University, Thailand) studied at the University of Rome “La Sapienza,” where he received his MA and PhD in Indology. He has been a professor at Webster University Thailand and Director of the Lumbini International Research Institute (Lumbini, Nepal). His current research focuses on the Pali literature of Central Thailand and Pāla period scholasticism of Northern India. Among his publications: The Laghutantraṭīkā by Vajrapāṇi (Rome 2001), La rivelazione del Buddha (co-authorship, Milano 2001 and 2004), Peter Skilling. Buddhism and Buddhist Literature of Siam. Selected Papers (editorship, Bangkok-Lumbini 2009), A Mirror Reflecting the Entire World. The Pāli Buddhapādamaṅgala or “Auspicious signs on the Buddha’s feet” (Bangkok-Lumbini 2011), How Theravāda is Theravāda? Exploring Buddhist Identities (co-editorship, Silkworm Books, Chiang Mai 2012), the three volumes Pater Nyunt. A Descriptive Catalogue of Burmese Manuscripts of the Fragile Palm Leaves Collection (editorship, Bangkok-Lumbini 2014-2015), “Katā me rakkhā, katāme parittā.” Proceedings of the Second International Pali Studies Week. Paris 2016 (Bangkok-Lumbini 2018), and Proceedings of the Third International Pali Study Week, Paris 2018 (Bangkok-Lumbini 2023).

Claudio can be contacted at: c.cicuzza@gmail.com