Pope Francis has confirmed he will travel to Mongolia in September, becoming the first pope to visit the Asian nation, which is home to a cardinal and about 1300 Catholics. Source: CNS.
In an audience last Friday with executives and staff of ITA Airways, the airline that has taken the Pope on his international trips since 2021, he said that he will visit Mongolia, a country sandwiched between Russia and China, after traveling to Hungary in late April and Marseille, France, in September.
During an airborne news conference on his return flight from South Sudan in February, the Pope told journalists there was a “possibility that from Marseille I will fly to Mongolia”.
To the airline workers, Pope Francis said that “God willing” he will leave for his 41st apostolic trip, traveling to Hungary on April 28-30 “and then there will be Marseille and Mongolia, and all the others that are on the waiting list”.
The Pope’s trip to Mongolia will be strategic to the Vatican, which has strained relations with neighbouring China, primarily due to apparent violations of an agreement between China and the Vatican which outlines procedures for the appointment of bishops.
In August 2022, Pope Francis named Italian Bishop Giorgio Marengo, apostolic prefect of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, to be the first cardinal based in Mongolia.
Meeting the employees of ITA, the successor to Alitalia, Pope Francis spoke of the importance of papal trips, first undertaken by Pope Paul VI, followed by Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and now himself.
“It’s important for me to meet people, meet communities, the faithful, believers of other faiths, women and men of goodwill,” the Pope said. “Meeting in person, speaking in person is different than making oneself present with a message or a video. It’s not the same.”
Pope Francis confirms trip to Mongolia in September (By Justin McLelland, CNS.)