Following a controversial meeting with President Obama in the White House, the Dalai Lama headed to Chicago Sunday to speak about interfaith cooperation, and also took the opportunity to praise Illinois for abolishing the death penalty.
The 76-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader was greeted on the UIC Pavilion stage by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, according to the Associated Press. He then said abolishing the death penalty was the right thing to do.
In March, Quinn signed a death penalty ban and cleared death row. "If the system can't be guaranteed, 100-percent error-free, then we shouldn't have the system," he said at the time.
The Chicago Tribune has more on the Dalai Lama's talk:
He emphasized that moral principles are not rooted in religious belief but the pursuit of happiness, a desire that all humans share. He also encouraged people to stick with their own family traditions, instead of adopting new faiths.
"Better to keep your own traditions," he said. "It's much safer."
He also explained that science and faith can co-exist, in fact, and work in concert to teach the world about interdependence.
A Chinese crackdown led the Dalai Lama to flee into exile in India in 1959. China says he's welcome to return if he drops his separatist activities, accepts Tibet as an inalienable part of China and recognizes Taiwan as a province of China.
Hours before the Dalai Lama's arrival in Washington, the Chinese Foreign Ministry urged the White House to cancel the visit.
"We firmly oppose any foreign official to meet with the Dalai Lama in any form," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement posted on the ministry's website.
"We request the U.S. side to honor its serious commitment that recognizes Tibet as part of China and opposes Tibet independence," Hong said.
On Monday, the spiritual leader will join other religious leaders for a panel discussion at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park. This is the fifth trip to Chicago.
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