Between 2003 and 2009, the Bishops Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs co-sponsored an annual Northern California Ch'an/Zen Buddhist-Catholic Dialogue. The purpose of the annual dialogue was to promote understanding of the differences and similarities between Christianity and Buddhism. Discussions included such topics as transformation, grace, monastic vows, community life, Christ and the Buddha, among others.
Due to financial constraints, in 2009 the national dialogue concluded its work, but it encouraged regional initiatives organized on the local level. The USCCB's SEIA continues to be involved in a consulting and/or participatory fashion in a number of these local initiatives and networks.
Recently, SEIA staff took part in an international plenary of Buddhist and Catholic Leaders in Castel Gandolfo, Italy for a “dialogue of fraternity” that culminated with an audience with Pope Francis.
Dr. Anthony Cirelli staffs relations with the U.S. Buddhist community.