一連三天「佛教與天主教的對話」研討會在萬佛聖城舉行，由天主教舊金山教區的主教韋斯特（Bishop John Wester）帶領十餘位神父、修女前往萬佛城，和佛教界的恆實法師、恆律法師等人共同探討如何透過宗教間的合作，推動世界和平。韋斯特主教將在萬佛城內主持望彌撒，並對宗教人士發表演說，李世明處長認為如此促進宗教合作之活動，應多舉辦，他個人十分支持。
Director General Matthew S. Lee of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in San Francisco came to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB) to visit the Abbot, Dharma Master Heng Lyu, on March 17, 2003. He also toured Instilling Goodness Elementary School, Developing Virtue Secondary School, and the proposed site for the construction of the International Institute for Philosophy and Ethics(IIPE) in CTTB.
The Guanyin recitation session was going on the day Director General Lee arrived at CTTB. After a brief talk, the Abbot invited Lee to recite the Guanshiyin Bodhisattva Universal Door Chapter with the assembly of over one hundred participants. They recited in unison, then bowed to the Buddha, circumambulated the Buddha, and dedicated the merit and virtue to world peace in the hope that disasters throughout the world can be alleviated.
Director General Lee also went to see the proposed 18-acre site for the International Institute for Philosophy and Ethics. The site is located at the base of Wonderful Enlightenment Mountain on the east side of CTTB. The construction plan of IIPE includes a Buddha Hall, library, classrooms, kitchen, dining hall, dorms, and so on. The purpose of IIPE is to enhance the research and understanding of major religions in the world, and to facilitate the dialogue and coorperation among religions. IIPE is currently recruiting professionals of various backgrounds for this construction project, whose architectural design phase is to be completed in the next two years.
The IIPE project was finally approved by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors at the end of 2002 after many public hearings. Thus one of the wishes of Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, the founder of CTTB, can now be fulfilled. Seeing the worldwide unrest caused by religious conflicts, Director General Lee spoke favorably of IIPE project just as the war on Iraq began. He remarked that the City’s beautiful scenery and abundant open space provide good conditions for the development of IIPE.
A three-day Buddhist Catholic Dialogue seminar was held the same week as Director General Lee’s visit. The Bishop of the San Francisco Archdiocese, Rev. John Wester, led a group of 15 Catholic leaders to spend a weekend at CTTB. They exchanged views with Buddhist representatives including Dharma Masters Heng Sure and Heng Lyu on how to promote world peace through the cooperation among religions. Bishop Wester also held Mass and delivered a public talk at CTTB. Director General Lee pointed out that inter-religious events such as this should be held frequently, and he fully endorsed it.
Director General Lee also toured Instilling Goodness Elementary School and Developing Virtue Secondary School at CTTB and had lunch with the students. He hoped that people in the San Francisco Bay Area could know more about these two schools which promote the virtues of service, filiality, kindness and compassion; emphasize ethics and character; and provide a bilingual English/Chinese education. Schools like these two are rarely found and highly commendable.