Pope Francis in Mongolia from 31 August to 4 September
Pope Francis’s visit to Mongolia has been officially announced. Located between China and Russia, the country is home to a few hundred Catholics. At an audience with members of the Pontifical Mission Societies, the pontiff called for everyone to be included in the proclamation of the joy of the Gospel. “Go to the crossroads and invite everyone,” he said, and “do not reduce the Societies to money!”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis will be in Mongolia from 31 August to 4 September. The country, which lies on the borderlands of the Church’s missionary work, is home to a small Catholic community of some 1,300 members.
Francis had already mentioned the apostolic visit in February, during his press conference on the return flight from South Sudan. In today’s statement, Vatican Press Office director Matteo Bruni notes that the pontiff accepted the invitation from the president of Mongolia and local Church officials and that trip’s schedule and details would be made public in the coming weeks.
Last year, Francis showed his interest in this small community, re-established just thirty years ago, by elevating the Apostolic Prefect of Ulaanbaatar, Fr Giorgio Marengo, an Italian missionary of the Consolata, to the rank of cardinal.
Given the country’s particular geographical location, between Russia and China, today’s announcement takes on special significance. In any event, the mission will be at the heart of this apostolic visit.
A few days ago, AsiaNews published an article dedicated to Fr Kim Stephano Seong Hyeon, the vicar general of Ulaanbaatar, who died suddenly at the age of 55 after proclaiming the Gospel for 20 years in this remote land.
Francis also spoke about the call to bring Jesus to everyone, excluding no one, in his audience today in the Vatican with members of the delegations currently participating in the Assembly of the Pontifical Mission Societies, which support the work of evangelisation in Churches throughout the world.
“At this moment of history,” Francis told them, “as we carry the synodal process forward, it is important to remember that the Christian community is missionary by its very nature. In fact, every Christian has received the gift of the Holy Spirit and is sent forth to continue the work of Jesus, announcing the joy of the Gospel to all and bringing his consolation to the various situations of our often wounded history.”
However, “Missionary work does not come naturally, for we always tend to prefer life to be comfortable, with everything in order. It was necessary, then, for the Holy Spirit to come and make the tremendous ‘disorder’ that was the day of Pentecost. This is because, in order to initiate missionary outreach, to create the life of the Church, the Spirit is first the creator of confusion and then draws out harmony. Both are of the Holy Spirit.”
“What does Jesus tell us in the parable about the wedding banquet (cf. Mt 22:1-14) – which went wrong because the guests did not come,” the pontiff asked, “what does the Lord tells us? He says, Go to the crossroads and invite everyone, everyone: those who are healthy, sick, bad, good, sinners... all. This is the heart of [the] mission: that ‘all’, excluding no one.
“Every mission of ours, then, is born from the heart of Christ in order that he may draw all to himself. This was the mystical and missionary spirit of Blessed Pauline Marie Jaricot, the foundress of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, who was very devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Lastly, the pontiff offered a special recommendation to those who undertake missionary work. “Please do not reduce the Societies to money! They certainly need money, which is a means, but do not reduce them to that, for they are bigger than money.”
In fact, “Money is what we need to move forward. Yet if spirituality is missing and they become merely a business, then immediately corruption arises. Indeed, even in these days, we have seen newspaper reports of alleged corruption having occurred in the name of the Church’s missionary work.”