Pope Francis will deliver a much-awaited speech tomorrow before Mongolia’s authorities and the diplomatic corps in the State Palace in the Mongolian capital. Russia is the country's main energy supplier but 90 per cent of its exports go to China. Meanwhile, “new” partners are lining up, eager for access to its mineral riches, starting with strategic rare earths. During his visit, the pontiff hopes to encourage steps towards peace.
Reception at Genghis Khan airport, official meetings begin tomorrow. On the plane to journalists, "The silence of this great country will do us good." During the flight the telegram to Xi Jinping: "I assure my prayers for the well-being of China and invoke unity and peace." But despite the Agreement with the Holy See, bishops from Inner Mongolia and other provinces in mainland China will not be allowed to attend the historic event.
Pope Francis flies out tonight on his historic trip to the country of the steppes. Kenyan-born Sister Anne Wangeci Waturu, head of Caritas Mongolia, speaks about it. “We try to meet the specific needs of people who live in peculiar social and weather conditions,” she says. This includes help to protect livestock and family gardens to deal with the consequences of climate change.
From the Mongolian capital the testimony of Sister Nirmala Rani, an Indian missionary for 21 years in the country. A visit was in the works in 2003, but Pope John Paul II’s health made it impossible. Mongolia is changing and the Church is trying to meet the challenge among young people. What do we expect from this visit? A powerful “experience of encounter with God”.
Discovering Mongolia’s small Catholic community ahead of the pontiff’s arrival on 31 August shows how the country is rebuilding its identity after 70 years of communism and the difficult transition to democracy. The small local Catholic community has been a work in progress for the past 30 years. Fr Peter Sanjajav is one of the first two local priests. “Today my story helps me serve as a bridge between different cultures and experiences, alongside those who are searching,” he said.
Almost a third of the missionaries present in the small Catholic community that will welcome Pope Francis in a few days are originally from South Korea. From the educational service of the nuns of Saint Paul de Chartres to the fidei donum priests of the diocese of Daejeon which, following the decision of its former ordinary bishop Lazzaro You Heung-sik has been sending fifth year summer seminarians to Mongolia for years. The life given by Fr. Kim Stephano Seong Hyeon in memory of Fr. Peter Sanjajav, the second indigenous priest.