This handout photo taken and released by Vatican Media on Sept. 2 shows Pope Francis presiding over a meeting with bishops, priests, missionaries, consecrated persons and pastoral workers at the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in Ulaanbaatar. (Photo by handout / Vatican Media / AFP)
Pope Francis has praised the “charitable initiatives” of the clergy and the laity in Mongolia and has urged them to exhibit greater unity and teamwork while being “close to the people.”
The Pope expressed his profound gratitude to the group of bishops, priests, missionaries, consecrated persons, and pastoral workers gathered at the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in Ulaanbaatar on Sept. 2.
“In these thirty-one years of presence in Mongolia, you… have embarked upon a wide variety of charitable initiatives, which absorb much of your energy and reflect the merciful face of Christ the Good Samaritan,” the pope said.
Addressing the congregation, he emphasized the importance of experiencing the joy of the Gospel and highlighted the idea of "tasting and seeing" the goodness of the Lord.
“I would like, then, to ‘taste’ the flavor of the faith in this land by calling to mind above all faces, stories and lives spent for the Gospel,” the pope said.
He emphasized that the faith in Mongolia has deep historical roots.
The pope also paid tributes to the pioneers of Christianity in Mongolia, including Bishop Wenceslao Selga Padilla and John of Montecorvino who played key roles in the evangelization efforts of the nation.
“I would start by remembering Bishop Wenceslao Selga Padilla, the first Apostolic Prefect, a pioneer in the contemporary history of the Church in Mongolia, who built this Cathedral. Here, however, the faith does not date back simply to the nineties of the last century; it has ancient roots,” he said.
John of Montecorvino was the first Bishop of Khanbalik, with responsibility for the region under the erstwhile Mongolian Yuan dynasty.
The Pope stressed that the Christian life is about encountering the Lord daily and serving those in need.
“Brothers and sisters, the Christian life is born of contemplating the Lord’s face; it is about love, daily encounter with the Lord in his word and in the Bread of Life, and in the faces of others, the needy and the poor in whom Jesus is present,” the pope said.
He also encouraged simplicity and closeness to the people, warning against becoming distracted by worldly concerns.
“Be close to the people, personally caring for them, learning their language, respecting and loving their culture, not allowing yourselves to be tempted by worldly forms of security, but remaining steadfast in the Gospel through exemplary moral and spiritual lives,” the pope said.
The Pope underscored the importance of unity in the Church, centered on the bishop, and urged the missionaries to cultivate “communion.”
“Unity in the Church is not about order and respect, nor is it simply a good strategy for “teamwork;” it is about faith and love for the Lord, about fidelity to him,” the pope said.
The pope also urged the gathering to see the bishop as a representation of “Christ alive in the midst of his People,” and build up a synodal fellowship that “that greatly assists the inculturation of the faith.”
He reminded them that the Church's mission is not about political agendas but about promoting the good of all through mercy and truth.
“Governments and secular institutions have nothing to fear from the Church’s work of evangelization, for she has no political agenda to advance, but is sustained by the quiet power of God’s grace and a message of mercy and truth, which is meant to promote the good of all,” the pope added.
Pope Francis encouraged the missionaries not to be discouraged by challenges and small numbers, as God works through littleness.
“Do not be concerned about small numbers, limited success, or apparent irrelevance,” the pope said.
He invoked the support of Mary, the Immaculate Mother, as a symbol of caring presence among the people.
The Pope concluded by blessing the congregation and asking for prayers, expressing his closeness and gratitude for their witness and dedication to the Gospel.