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Cardinal Emphasizes Pope’s Devotion in Visiting Mongolia’s Small Catholic Community

Pope Francis

As the countdown commences for the inaugural papal visit to Mongolia in early September, the highest-ranking Vatican official in the Asian nation has characterized the occasion as something the local Catholic Church will hold dear.  

“The reaction of both the Catholic community and the larger local community was of great wonder and joy and something thrilling,” Cardinal Giorgio Marengo, Apostolic Prefect of Ulaanbaatar, said at a July 17 news conference: “It’s gradually becoming more evident how important and meaningful this visit will be.”  

The pope’s 43rd Apostolic Journey abroad is scheduled from August 31 to September 4.    

After dedicating two decades to missionary work in Mongolia, Marengo addressed reporters, highlighted the approach of gently conveying the Gospel through personal, one-on-one interactions, with the aim of spreading the faith in a simple and unobtrusive manner.

“When you whisper, you whisper to an individual or a few people—you cannot whisper to many people at the same time because they simply will not hear you,” the Italian cardinal said. “And I think this visit will also somehow manifest the attention that the [pope] has for every individual, every person who embarks in this journey of faith.”   

The pope will be traveling to a country located between China and Russia at a time when the Vatican is facing tensions with both nations. On July 15, the Vatican announced that the pontiff has approved the appointment of a new bishop for Shanghai—effectively yielding to Beijing’s unilateral decision made in April.

Additionally, the Holy See is currently navigating a delicate diplomatic stance with Moscow concerning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Marengo refrained from speculating on the diplomatic ramifications of the pope’s trip, emphasizing that the primary significance of the first papal visit to Mongolia lies in demonstrating Pope Francis’s profound love for the universal church, particularly in places where it exists as a minority community.   

Mongolia is home to just 1,450 Catholics, Marengo said, with the majority in the capital, Ulaanbaatar. During his visit, the pope will lead an interfaith gathering and inaugurate a Catholic charity house to extend aid to the impoverished and destitute, and for women seeking refuge from domestic violence.

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