Pope to encourage tiny Catholic community in Mongolia

ULAANBAATAR: Pope Francis is because of meet the tiny however vibrant neighborhood of Catholics in Mongolia on Saturday, a part of his first papal go to to the Buddhist-majority nation strategically positioned between China and Russia.
The 86-year-old Jesuit can be feted within the morning with an official welcome ceremony and honour guard earlier than addressing Mongolian dignitaries, together with President Ukhnaa Khurelsukh and Prime Minister Luvsannamsrai Oyun-Erdene contained in the State Palace.
Anticipating the pope’s arrival within the huge Sukhbaatar Plaza, named for a Mongol revolutionary hero, have been droves of pilgrims venturing from different Asian nations for an opportunity to catch a glimpse of the chief of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics.
Amongst them was Mongdiep Tran, one in every of a bunch of 90 Vietnamese who made the lengthy journey from Ho Chi Minh Metropolis, acknowledging it was “a bit tiring”.
“That’s the solely motive we’re right here is to see the pope,” she informed.
“And I’ve by no means been to Mongolia, so we’re very excited.”
The pontiff’s go to will present a lift to Mongolia’s Catholics, a bunch that numbers about 1,400 — together with simply 25 clergymen and 33 nuns.
On the similar time, he’s anticipated to encourage the younger democracy — which has been marred by corruption and environmental degradation — to face by its beliefs even because it sits sandwiched between two large authoritarian powers.
China’s doorstep
Francis arrived Friday morning, greeted by a line of honour guards wearing conventional blue, crimson and yellow, and headed to the house of Bishop Giorgio Marengo, the Church’s youngest Cardinal, for a day of relaxation.
Alongside the route, youngsters waved Mongolian and Vatican flags whereas singing songs about “Mongolian happiness.”
The voyage — Francis’ forty third since ascending to the papacy in 2013 — is seen as a shrewd diplomatic transfer that brings him to the doorstep of Beijing and Moscow, in hopes of bettering frosty ties with every.
Neither authorities has prolonged an invite for the pope to go to their nations.
The Holy See final yr renewed a controversial take care of China that permits each side a say in appointing bishops in China, a transfer critics have referred to as a harmful concession by the Vatican to Beijing in trade for a presence within the nation.
In the meantime, Francis has sought to dealer an finish to the struggle in Ukraine with Russia, with no seen success so far.
Beijing’s Communist Occasion is formally atheist and workouts strict management over all recognised spiritual establishments, together with vetting sermons and selecting bishops.
The brief, five-day journey can also be a stamina take a look at for the pope, who underwent a hernia operation in June and whose continued knee ache has pressured him to depend on a wheelchair.
On Sunday, the pope will lead an interreligious assembly for all faiths and conduct mass inside a newly constructed ice hockey enviornment, the place pilgrims from nations together with China, Russia, South Korea and Kazakhstan are anticipated to attend.

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