“It’s a tragedy that religious people should take their lives to stop the project,” [he said], “I worry about another similar attempt.”
For both Catholics and Buddhists suicide is considered unacceptable, but monks who have set themselves on fire to protest war, social injustice and now, environmental degradation, arouse mixed feelings. And if you consider the guiding metaphor of Christian martyrdom—not least the crucifixion—whether explicit or not, self-sacrifice is likely to evoke as much awed admiration and grief as judgment.
UPDATE: Vanya writes by way of correction, “Quang Duc was not protesting the Vietnam War. He was protesting repression of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government.”