Pope Francis Arrives in Mongolia to Little Fanfare from Buddhist Country
Pope Francis, the 86-year-old leader of the Catholic Church, arrived in Mongolia on Friday to a small but fervent Catholic community. However, his visit seemed to have little impact on the predominantly Buddhist country.
After a grueling 10-hour flight, the pope arrived in Mongolia and rested for the day before his official engagements. His first event is scheduled for Saturday, where he will attend a welcoming ceremony and address government leaders and diplomats.
At the airport, the pope was greeted with a customary Mongolian gesture of welcome – a solid yogurt presented by a woman in traditional dress. Despite this warm welcome, there were minimal signs of the pope’s presence in the city, with only a few flags and some traffic disruptions caused by the motorcade.
Mongolia is home to just 1,450 Catholics, led by Cardinal Giorgio Marengo, who has been working in the country for over two decades. The pope’s visit to countries where Catholics are a minority is part of his focus on highlighting marginalized communities in society.
During his flight to Mongolia, the pope expressed his excitement about visiting the country and praised its culture, despite its small population. He also sent greetings to the leaders of each country he flew over, including China, which has had strained relations with the Vatican. In his message to Chinese President Xi Jinping, the pope expressed his good wishes for the people of China and his prayers for the nation’s wellbeing.
In response, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson expressed a positive reaction to the pope’s blessing and emphasized their willingness for constructive dialogue and improved relations between China and the Vatican.
During his visit, Pope Francis will preside over religious events, including a Mass in the Steppe Arena, and inaugurate a charity center to assist those in need, regardless of their religion.
The pope’s visit to Mongolia will conclude on Monday, marking another significant stop on his mission to reach out to marginalized communities around the world.