Baater Enkh, a Mongolian seminarian studying in South Korea, has returned to his homeland months before he is scheduled to become Mongolia's first Catholic priest
, 29, returned to Ulaanbaatar on Jan. 19 after graduating from Daejeon Catholic University. He is scheduled to be ordained Aug. 28 in the Mongolian capital's Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul. "I'd like this to be a just world of humane love, one where we transcend things like religion, nationality, ideology, and philosophy so that everyone can be happy," he told The Hankyoreh
newspaper. After becoming a socialist state in 1924, Mongolia did not have freedom of religion until its liberation in the 1990s. Catholicism was only introduced there in 1992. Enkh was introduced to Catholicism by a French missionary when he was eight years old. He majored in bioengineering in Mongolia before arriving in South Korea in Aug. 2008 with the aim of becoming a priest.
Only around 1,000 Catholics live in Mongolia today, with just 10 churches in the country. The lack of any Mongolian translation of the Catholic Bible means the churches are forced to use a Protestant version.
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