Pope offers apparent gesture to China during visit to Mongolia

Mongolian President Ukhnaa Khurelsukh (R) receives Pope Francis throughout a welcome ceremony at Sukhbaatar Sq. in Ulaanbaatar (PEDRO PARDO)

Pope Francis appeared to hunt to reassure China on Saturday, utilizing a gathering of Catholic missionaries in Mongolia to state that governments had “nothing to concern” from the Catholic Church.

The feedback got here throughout the first papal go to to the younger democracy sandwiched between China and Russia, the place the 86-year-old pontiff has hoped not solely to encourage the tiny Catholic group but in addition use his presence at China’s backdoor to attempt to enhance the Vatican’s relations with Beijing.

“Governments and secular establishments don’t have anything to concern from the Church’s work of evangelisation, for she has no political agenda to advance…” mentioned the 86-year-old pontiff, throughout an deal with at Saints Peters and Paul Cathedral within the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar.

The Church’s message of “mercy and reality…is supposed to advertise the nice of all,” he mentioned.

In visiting the landlocked nation of Mongolia, a former Soviet satellite tv for pc state that has been a democracy since 1992, the Argentine Jesuit has had one eye on geopolitics, even because the go to fulfils his need to achieve out to distant, largely ignored areas removed from Rome.

Beijing’s Communist Occasion is cautious of the Catholic Church on its territory, and workout routines strict management over all recognised spiritual establishments.

The Holy See renewed a deal final yr with Beijing permitting either side a say in appointing bishops in China, a transfer critics have referred to as a harmful Vatican concession in alternate for a presence within the nation.

Beijing has by no means prolonged an invite for Francis to go to.

The obvious message to China got here on Francis’ second day in Ulaanbaatar, the place earlier Saturday he was feted with an official welcome ceremony that included a phalanx of Mongolian horsemen in steel armour parading previous the State Palace.

He waved to a crowd of greater than a thousand folks along with President Ukhnaa Khurelsukh, in entrance of a large bronze statue of Genghis Khan.

Calling himself a “pilgrim of friendship,” Francis extolled the virtues of the nation, together with its nomadic folks “respectful of the fragile balances of the ecosystem”.

He mentioned Mongolia’s Shamanist and Buddhist traditions of dwelling in concord with nature “can contribute considerably to the pressing and now not deferrable efforts to guard and protect planet Earth.”

However whereas praising the nation for its spiritual tolerance and pacifist international coverage, he warned that corruption was “the fruit of a utilitarian and unscrupulous mentality that has impoverished entire nations”.

Once more underscoring the good thing about organised religions, he mentioned they’ll “symbolize a safeguard in opposition to the insidious menace of corruption, which successfully represents a severe menace to the event of any human group.”

Mongolia has been marred by corruption and environmental degradation in recent times, with its capital affected by a number of the world’s worst air high quality and an embezzlement scandal sparking avenue protests final yr.

Huge swathes of the nation’s territory are additionally liable to desertification because of local weather change, overgrazing and mining.

– World determine –

Within the huge Sukhbaatar Plaza, named for a Mongol revolutionary hero, many hoped to catch a glimpse of the chief of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics.

Within the crowd was Mongolian Enkhtur Dagvadorj, who mentioned Francis “appears an important particular person. He’s certainly a world determine.”

“Though Mongolians are Buddhists, it’s pretty to obtain a Pope from Rome in our nation. Additionally, his go to could be very helpful to our nation in lots of points, from popularity to the economic system,” he mentioned.

Lots of the clergymen, nuns and laypeople administering to the 1,400-strong Catholic group in Mongolia turned out for the pope’s afternoon deal with on the cathedral, by which he praised their missionary work.

– China’s doorstep –

Francis’ journey drew pilgrims from the broader area, together with Chinese language Catholics, with a few dozen waving the nation’s flag throughout the welcome ceremony Saturday and others later unfurling a big flag outdoors the cathedral.

Additionally making the journey was Stephen Chow, Archbishop of Hong Kong, who is because of be named a cardinal later this month by Francis.

AFP heard one Chinese language customer advising one other to not communicate with reporters, for concern of “bother” upon their return to China.

However one other instructed AFP that seeing the pope will “principally be like seeing Jesus”.

“There are a number of Catholics in China who wished to come back, however they could not make it. So we really feel fairly blessed,” the girl mentioned.

The pope, who had a hernia operation in June, was gingerly taking steps with a cane when not in a wheelchair.

On Sunday, his final full day earlier than his departure Monday, Francis will lead an interreligious assembly and conduct mass inside a newly constructed ice hockey enviornment.

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