I would take this as an example of the Dalai Lama being ‘unchallenging’ and ‘nice’ rather than precise and straightforward. The Dalai Lama would not be a Buddhist monk and Leonardo Boff would not be a Catholic (and a Catholic priest, if he still is) if they did not believe that their respective religions were truer than others. A way of answering Boff’s question which would have been inoffensive while at the same time honest and accurate would have been to say something like this. “Different people are looking for different things and see things differently. The religion that best fulfills my needs and seems most realistic and true for me is Buddhism. And while being a committed Buddhist I recognize that there is truth and goodness in other religions.”
And if the Dalai Lama desire to please means he doesn’t go far enough, Boff goes too far when he says that his question was ‘malicious’. What on earth is malicious in asking someone, “What seems most true to you?” If someone asks me whether I believe in the Inuit walrus god and I politely say “No” why am I being ‘malicious’? Why am I being malicious when I say that astronomy is more true than astrology, evolution more true than intelligent design, medicine more effective than faith healing and psychiatric intervention more reality-based than exorcisms. Aren’t we allowed to honestly express our opinions any more? Is it getting to the stage that we are going to be labeled ‘malicious’ or ‘intolerant’ if we simply, gently, politely but also clearly and honestly say what we believe? We are constantly being urged to ‘celebrate diversity’ in our societies which I agree is a wholesome thing to do. But express ‘diversity’ in your religious beliefs and you are shunned as ‘intolerant’. In some quarters this sort of thing is called ‘political correctness’. I call it ‘the new intolerance’.