The Vatican

Pope leaves Mongolia at House of Mercy, looks to China

The Holy Father Francis said goodbye to the Mongolian country, leaving his heart in the new House of Mercy in the capital, a comprehensive center for the care of the most vulnerable, such as women, children and the homeless, and looking at the Chinese giant, which has not yet been visited by any Pope.

Francisco Otamendi-September 4, 2023-Reading time: 5 minutes

The Pope at the House of Mercy on September 4 ©OSV

The Pope dedicated his last hours in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, to the inauguration and blessing of the House of Mercy, which "is proposed as a point of reference for a large number of charitable actions; hands stretched out towards brothers and sisters who have difficulty navigating in the midst of life's problems."

"It is a kind of port where you can dock, where you can find a listening ear and understanding," said Pope Francis during his visit to the center, which he inaugurated and blessed this morning.

The Pope then drove to Ulaanbaatar's Chinggis Khaan International Airport to meet the Pope at the airport. farewell ceremony from Mongolia, and has taken the plane to Rome.

At the Casa de Misericordia, the Pope held a meeting with the meeting with the charity workers, presided over by the Apostolic Prefect of Ulaanbaatar, Cardinal Giorgio MarengoThe Holy Father expressed his affection to the Consolata Missionary, to whom the Holy Father dedicated many expressions of affection during the trip.

Andrew Tran Le Phuong, S.D.B. After referring to the care for people in need, the director added: "At the Casa de Misericordia we seek interconnection with all those who share the values of loving compassion and shared social responsibility, in a spirit of synodality. Echoing what His Holiness has stated on several occasions, we would like to be on the side of those who do not have the right to speak or are not heard."

Sister Veronica Kim, of the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres, who is currently serving at the St. Mary Clinic in Mongolia, and another woman, Naidansuren Otgongerel, seventh in a family of eight siblings, who spoke on behalf of people with disabilities and who began her journey of faith with the help of the Consolata Missionaries, also gave their testimonies. 

At the end of the meeting, after the recitation of the Hail Mary, the blessing and the final hymn, the Holy Father blessed the plaque that will give its name to the charity center. 

House of Mercy: this defines the Church

In his address at the Casa de Misericordia, the Pope began by saying that from her origins, the Church "demonstrated by her works that the charitable dimension is the foundation of her identity. I am thinking of the accounts in the Acts of the Apostles, of the many initiatives taken by the first Christian community to carry out the words of Jesus, giving life to a Church built on four pillars: communion, liturgy, service and witness. It is wonderful to see that, after so many centuries, the same spirit permeates the Church in Mongolia".

Later, he recalled that "since the first missionaries arrived in Ulaanbaatar in the 1990s, they immediately felt the call to charity, which led them to take care of homeless children, homeless brothers and sisters, the sick, people with disabilities, prisoners and those who, in their situation of suffering, asked to be welcomed".

Later, he added that "I really like the name they wanted to give it: Casa de la Misericordia (House of Mercy). In these two words is the definition of the Church, which is called to be a welcoming home where all can experience a superior love, which moves and touches the heart; the tender and provident love of the Father, who wants us in his house as brothers and sisters".

The true progress of nations

After expressing the importance of volunteerism for this task to be carried out, Pope Francis reiterated an underlying idea: "The true progress of nations, in fact, is not measured on the basis of economic wealth, much less on those who invest in the illusory power of armaments, but on the ability to take care of the health, education and integral growth of the people. I would therefore like to encourage all Mongolian citizens, known for their magnanimity and capacity for selflessness, to engage in volunteerism, making themselves available to others."

It dispels three myths

Finally, the Pope said, "I would like to refute some 'myths. First of all, the myth that only wealthy people can engage in volunteer work. Reality says the opposite: it is not necessary to be rich to do good; in fact, it is almost always ordinary people who dedicate time, knowledge and heart to caring for others". 

"A second myth that must be dismantled is that the Catholic Church, which is distinguished in the world for its great commitment to works of social promotion, does all this out of proselytism, as if taking care of others were a way of convincing them and putting them 'on its side'. No, Christians recognize those in need and do what they can to alleviate their suffering because there they see Jesus, the Son of God, and in Him the dignity of every person, called to be a son or daughter of God".

"I like to imagine this House of Mercy," the Pope added, "as the place where people of different 'creeds,' and also non-believers, join their own efforts to those of local Catholics to succor with compassion so many brothers and sisters in humanity."

Charitable initiatives, not companies

Finally, "a third myth to be debunked is the one according to which what counts is only the economic means, as if the only way to take care of others is to hire salaried personnel and equip large structures," Francisco added, 

"Certainly, charity requires professionalism, but charitable initiatives must not become businesses, but must preserve the freshness of charitable works, where those in need find people capable of listening and compassion, beyond any kind of retribution". 

The Pope concluded by recounting an episode of St. Teresa of Calcutta. "It seems that once a journalist, looking at her bending over the smelly wound of a sick person, told her: 'What you are doing is very beautiful, but personally I wouldn't do it for a million dollars'. Mother Teresa smiled and replied: 'I wouldn't do it for a million dollars either; I do it for the love of God. 

I ask that this style of gratuity be the added value of the House of Mercy", and thanked "the good they have done and will do". And as he always does, he asked for prayers for the Pope.

Days of prayer and fraternity

Four intense days of reflection, prayer and heartfelt fraternity are behind us, in which the Pope met first with the authorities in the "Ikh Mongol" hall of the Government Palace, and told them that he was coming as "pilgrim of friendship".I arrived on tiptoe and with a joyful heart, eager to be humanly enriched by your presence".

In the afternoon, after this first day of rest, the Holy Father met with the bishops, priests and religious of this small Catholic community with barely 1,500 baptized, in which he emphasized the personal relationship with the Lord, necessary for carrying out the mission and dedication to our brothers and sisters. 

On Sunday, Francis held an ecumenical and interreligious meeting with leaders of various confessions, in which he emphasized the primacy of love over wealth or power, and in the afternoon he celebrated the Eucharist The event, which was attended by several dozen Chinese Catholics, was held for Mongolian Catholics.

The surprise of the Chinese prelates

At the conclusion of the Holy Mass in the Steppe Arena, a surprise arose when Cardinal Jhon Tong, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, and the current bishop, Stephen Chow Sau-yan, a Jesuit who will receive the cardinalate at the end of the month, appeared hand in hand with Pope Francis and explained that he had arrived with dozens of people. In recent hours it had been reported that the Chinese regime would have prohibited the movement of any continental bishop and the veto, therefore, would be extended to any Catholic faithful who wanted to cross the border.

The Pope took the opportunity to send "warm greetings to the noble Chinese people." "To Chinese Catholics I ask you to be good Christians and good citizens," Francis added, as he noted in his telegram of greetings to President Xi Jinping as he flew over the Chinese sky on his way to Mongolia. 

The authorFrancisco Otamendi

La Brújula Newsletter Leave us your email and receive every week the latest news curated with a catholic point of view.
Banner advertising
Banner advertising