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Pope Francis visits one of many world’s smallest and latest Catholic communities in Mongolia

The Pope will go to a cardinal and a charity run by nuns in addition to assembly political leaders in Mongolia

Pope Francis arrived in Mongolia on Friday morning to encourage one of many world’s smallest and latest Catholic communities.


It is the primary time a pope has visited the landlocked Asian nation and comes at a time when the Vatican’s relations with Mongolia’s two highly effective neighbours, Russia and China, are as soon as once more strained.

Francis arrived within the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar after an in a single day flight passing by Chinese language airspace, affording the pontiff a uncommon alternative to ship a notice of greetings to President Xi Jinping. Vatican protocol requires the pope to ship such greetings at any time when he flies over a overseas nation.

In his message to Xi, Francis expressed “greetings of excellent needs to your excellency and the folks of China.”

“Assuring you of my prayers for the wellbeing of the nation, I invoke upon all of you the divine blessings of unity and peace,” Francis mentioned.

Goodwill gesture

Regardless of strains within the relationship, Chinese language Overseas Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin mentioned the greeting confirmed “friendliness and goodwill.”

“China is prepared to proceed to stroll in the identical course with the Vatican, conduct constructive dialogues, improve understanding, accumulate mutual belief, and promote the method of enhancing the connection of the 2 sides,” Wang mentioned at a each day briefing.

Upon arrival, Francis, who makes use of a wheelchair, was met on the tarmac by helmeted honour guards together with Mongolia’s overseas minister and was supplied a style of dried yoghurt from a lady in conventional gown, as an indication of welcome. He made no public feedback. Together with monks and others gathered on the tarmac, a number of dozen watched his arrival from the airport terminal.

Chatting with reporters en path to Mongolia late Thursday, Francis mentioned he was trying ahead to visiting a rustic that has just some folks, however with a tradition that you just want your senses to know.

“There are just a few inhabitants — a small folks, however a giant tradition,” he mentioned aboard the ITA constitution airplane. “I believe it can do us good to attempt to perceive this lengthy, massive silence, perceive what it means however not intellectually, however with senses.” He added: “Mongolia, you perceive along with your senses.”

On faucet are official conferences with the Mongolian president and prime minister and a speech earlier than Mongolian authorities, cultural and enterprise leaders, adopted by Francis’ first encounter with the bishops, monks and nuns who type the spine of a tiny Catholic group of 1,450 that has solely been in existence for a era.

Whereas Christianity has been current within the area for tons of of years, the Catholic Church has solely had a sanctioned presence in Mongolia since 1992, after the nation shrugged off its Soviet-allied communist authorities and enshrined spiritual freedom in its structure.


The Holy See and Mongolia have had diplomatic relations ever since, and a handful of missionary spiritual orders together with Mom Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity have nurtured the tiny group by its first three many years of life.

4 Missionaries of Charity sisters — Jeanne Francoise from Rwanda; Chanmi from South Korea; Viera from Slovakia and Suder from India — run a nursing house on the northern outskirts of Ulaanbaatar with a capability of 30 beds. There, they supply look after aged folks with psychological or bodily disabilities, or who’re homeless, undocumented, or in any other case ostracised by their households.

Sister Jeanne Francoise mentioned it was an honour that Francis was coming to Mongolia, saying she had seen him as soon as earlier than when she was dwelling in Rome however that it was by no means as “shut” as it might be in Mongolia.

Francis has lengthy praised the work of missionaries and has tried to reinvigorate the missionary focus of the church at massive by visiting them and inspiring their work. One among his first occasions in Mongolia is to preside over an encounter with missionaries Saturday afternoon on the capital’s St. Peter and Paul cathedral, and he ends his go to by inaugurating a brand new church-run charity home to are likely to Mongolia’s poorest.

“I need folks to know that the Catholic faith, the Catholic Church, and Catholic believers additionally exist in Mongolia,” the Rev. Sanjaajav Tserenkhand, a Mongolian priest, mentioned exterior the cathedral. He mentioned he hoped that Francis’ go to would additionally present Mongolians that Christianity is not a “overseas faith,” however can be rooted within the nation.


Cardinal Giorgio Marengo

The Argentine pontiff has lengthy prioritised visiting Catholic communities in what he calls the peripheries, staying away from the worldwide centres of Catholicism to minister as an alternative to small church buildings the place Catholics are sometimes a minority. He has made cardinals out of their leaders to indicate the common attain of the 1.3-billion-strong Catholic Church, together with the top of the Mongolian church, Cardinal Giorgio Marengo.

“His coronary heart burns with love for the common church, and particularly the church the place she lives in a minority context,” Marengo instructed journalists throughout a current go to to Rome. “And that’s the fantastic that means of his coming all the best way to Mongolia.”

The opposite most important focus of Francis’ four-day go to is to focus on Mongolia’s lengthy custom of interfaith coexistence. The Mongol Empire underneath its famed founder Genghis Khan was recognized for tolerating folks of various faiths amongst these it conquered, and Francis will doubtless emphasise that custom when he presides over an interfaith assembly Sunday.

Invited are Mongolian Buddhists, who’re the bulk within the nation of three.3 million, in addition to Jewish, Muslim and Shinto representatives and members of Christian church buildings which have established a presence in Mongolia within the final 30 years, together with the Russian Orthodox Church.

Diplomatic tightrope

That encounter may allow Francis to as soon as once more provide greetings to the Moscow patriarchate, which has strongly supported the Kremlin’s struggle in Ukraine. Francis has tried to steer a diplomatic tightrope in not antagonising Moscow, per the Vatican’s custom of diplomatic neutrality in conflicts.


Days earlier than his go to, he sparked outrage in Ukraine over his reward of Russia’s imperial previous, feedback that the Vatican insisted had been certainly not an endorsement of Moscow’s present struggle of aggression in Ukraine.

Whereas the Vatican has insisted Francis goes to Mongolia — not China or Russia — the China query shall be ever-present: A bunch of Chinese language Catholics, in addition to Russian Catholics, are anticipated to attend Francis’ Mass on Sunday within the Steppe Enviornment, however Beijing’s crackdown on spiritual minorities stays the backdrop to the journey.

As well as, China’s opposition to the Dalai Lama may come to the fore as Mongolian Buddhism is carefully tied to Tibet’s pressure and historically reveres the Dalai Lama. Francis has made an indicator of assembly with spiritual leaders from world wide, however he has thus far shunned assembly the exiled Tibetan Buddhist chief, for worry of antagonising Beijing.

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