CNA Staff, Jul 7, 2023 / 14:30 pm
The Vatican released Pope Francis’ four-day schedule for the first papal visit to Mongolia in September, where the pontiff will meet with government leaders, engage in interreligious dialogue, and celebrate Mass for the country’s small Catholic population.
Mongolia, a landlocked country situated between China and Russia, is home to about 1,300 Catholics, which is far fewer than 1% of the country’s 3.3 million people. Despite the small population, Christianity in Mongolia dates back to the seventh or eighth century when Nestorians first visited the area. Catholic missionaries preached to Mongolians as early as the 13th century.
The Apostolic Prefecture of Ulaanbaatar, a missionary area that does not have enough Catholics to warrant a diocese, has jurisdiction over the entirety of Mongolia. It is led by 49-year-old Cardinal Giorgio Marengo, who is the apostolic prefect and the youngest cardinal. He was named a cardinal by Pope Francis in August 2022.
Pope Francis’ motto for the trip is “Hoping Together.” According to the Holy See’s press office, the motto is intended to bring out two aspects of the apostolic journey, which is both a pastoral visit and a state visit.