07/06/2023, 20.32
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Hoping together, motto and programme for Pope Francis’s visit to Mongolia

The Vatican Press Office today released the official programme for the pontiff's visit (31 August-4 September). The welcome ceremony will be held in front of the Genghis Khan monument. Mass will be held at the local hockey arena. During the visit, Francis will open the House of Mercy for the poor, a facility promoted by the country’s small  Church.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – “Hoping together” is the motto of Pope Francis’s apostolic journey to Mongolia (31 August-4 September), this according to the press release issued today by the Vatican Press Office.

The communiqué also includes the event’s logo, which incorporates a ger, the traditional round, portable Mongolian tent, and its programme.

For the pontiff, the days will be intense with meetings with government officials and local religious leaders, not to mention a solemn Mass with the country’s small Catholic community of around 1,500.

For Mongolian Catholics, all this will be an important sign of hope, with the opening in the capital Ulaanbaatar of the House of Mercy, a facility for the poor promoted by the local Church.

The visit will take Francis into the heart of the steppes, in a huge country with only 3.3 million people located between Russia and China.

The pontiff will leave Rome at 6.30 pm on Thursday, 31 August on an overnight flight. After almost ten hours, he will land in Ulaanbaatar, the only Mongolian city on the itinerary.

The flight will be significant since it il will likely cross over China’s troubled region of Xinjiang.

Francis will land in the Mongolian capital at 10 am local time on Friday, 1 September, a day without meetings or official speeches to allow the pope to rest.

On Saturday, 2 September, the day will begin with the official welcome ceremony in the central Sukhbaatar Square, where a large monument commemorates Genghis Khan.

The morning will be full of meetings with the president, the prime minister, and the speaker of parliament as well as speeches to the authorities, representatives of civil society groups and members of the diplomatic corps at the State Palace.

In the afternoon, the pontiff will meet local priests, consecrated persons, missionaries, and pastoral workers, members of a Church reborn only 30 years ago, at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. Consecrated in 2003, the church is modelled after the Mongolian ger.

Sunday, 3 September, Francis will join representatives of other religions at the Hun Theatre. With the end of state atheism, religion revived in Mongolia and today about half of the population is Buddhist with a significant Muslim minority.

Mass will follow in the afternoon at the Steppe Arena, an indoor facility where ice hockey is played.

On Monday morning, 4 September, the House of Mercy will be inaugurated in the northern part of the city. Once used as a school run by the Sisters of Saint Paul de Chartres, it will now serve as a shelter for the poor.

Commenting on the motto of the trip, the Vatican Press Office stressed that the theme of hope brings together the two main aspects of the trip, pastoral outreach and state visit, aiming at stronger bilateral collaboration between the Holy See and Mongolia.

“The presence of the Holy Father represents for this small portion of the People of God a sign of great hope and encouragement and, on the other hand, the Church that is in Mongolia, with its smallness and marginality, can offer a sign of hope for the universal Church," the Press Office said.

As for the logo, it shows the map of Mongolia with boundaries outlined with the colours of the national flag (red and blue), with inside the drawing of a ger from which bellows yellow smoke (colour of the Vatican). To the right of the ger stands a cross. The two, ger and cross, are between two vertical inscriptions, in traditional Mongolian language, echoing the visit’s motto, “Hoping Together”.

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