Archbishop Ted Scott added a new flavor to ecumenism last month, and not everyone liked his sense of taste.

Scott opened the doors of the 3,000-seat Saint Paul’s Cathedral in Toronto (Canada’s largest Anglican church) for an interfaith service featuring Tibetan Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama. Scott, who chairs the World Council of Churches Central Committee and is primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, invited the top leaders of the city’s religious community.

A handful of protesters from the Toronto Free Presbyterian Church picketed outside Saint Paul’s. But for the most part, the 45-minute service ran without a hitch. Scott, representatives of the Greek Orthodox and Jewish communities, and two chanting Buddhist monks, participated in the service.

Scott explained to the 1,000 attenders that the Dalai Lama is Tibet’s Buddhist leader by virtue of his followers’ belief that he is the fourteenth reincarnation of Tibet’s patron saint. The archbishop bemoaned the fact that as a child he was never exposed to other religions but now felt it was important to acquaint other people with them.

Following a reading of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3–12, the Dalai Lama (described in an official release as “possessing the nature of God in the form of a human being”) spoke in halting English of the need for “inner peace,” without which food, clothing, a home, or other material goods were useless. A heckler interrupted at several points.

Despite the presence of a flock of personal bodyguards, the crowd created a few tense moments. One woman attempted to present the Dalai Lama with an offering of cheese, crackers, and bottled water, while another woman offered him her two-year-old son. Both offers were rejected with stony silence and a gentle shove from a bodyguard, as the Dalai strode out of the Gothicized church surrounded by well-wishers who attempted to touch his flowing robes.

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