Rome (Agenzia Fides) - "I had the grace of meeting, in Mongolia, a humble Church, and a joyful Church, which is in the heart of God", Pope Francis expressed his gratitude for the experiences and encounters he had during his short and intense journey apostolic meeting in Mongolia, which ended last Monday. He did so in the catechesis delivered during today's general audience, Wednesday, September 6, entirely dedicated to re-proposing images and impressions of the journey, during which he had the opportunity to embrace the Catholic Church and the Mongolian people, "a humble and wise people".
In the introductory part of the catechesis, Pope Francis shared some of the reasons that made his trip to Mongolia an important moment for every Catholic community in the world. When asked "why did the Pope go so far to visit a small flock of the faithful", the Pontiff replied: "Because it is precisely there, far from the spotlight, that we often find the signs of the presence of God, who does not look at appearances, but at the heart. The Lord" continued Pope Francis "does not look for the centre-stage, but the simple heart of those who desire him and love him without ostentation, without wanting to tower above others". Referring to the "touching history" of the small Catholic community present in Mongolia, the Pope recalled that it "came about, by the grace of God, from the apostolic zeal – on which we are reflecting at the moment – of a few missionaries who, impassioned by the Gospel, went about thirty years ago to that country they did not know. They learned the language – which is not easy – and, despite coming from different nations, gave life to a united and truly Catholic community. " This" said the Bishop of Rome" is the meaning of the word “catholic”, which means “universal”. But it is not a universality that homogenizes, but rather a universality that inculturates, it is a universality that is inculturated. This is catholicity: an embodied universality, “inculturate”, which embraces the good where it is found and serves the people with whom it lives. This is how the Church lives: bearing witness to the love of Jesus meekly, with life before words, happy with its true riches: service to the Lord and to brethren. The young Church in Mongolia - added Pope Francis - was born "in the spirit of charity, which is the best witness of faith". The Successor of Peter also mentioned that "at the end" of his visit he had the joy of blessing and inaugurating the "House of Mercy", which he defined as the "first charitable work that to be established in Mongolia as an expression of all the components of the local Church. A house" added the Pope "that is the calling card of those Christians, but that asks every one of our communities to be a house of mercy: that is, an open place, a welcoming place, where the sufferings of each person can enter without shame in contact with God’s mercy, that lifts up and heals". In Mongolia - the Bishop of Rome recalled - there are "missionaries from various countries who feel at one with the people, happy to serve them and to discover the beauty already there. Because these missionaries" continued the Pontiff, adding some sentences to the written text of the catechesis "did not go to proselytize; this is not evangelical, they went to live there like the Mongolian people, to speak their language, the language of that people, to take on the values of that people and to preach the Gospel in the Mongolian style, with Mongolian words. They went and they were “inculturated”: they took on the Mongolian culture to proclaim the Gospel in that culture".
The Pontiff also recalled with gratitude the interreligious and ecumenical meeting held during his visit last Sunday (see Fides, 3/9/2023). “Mongolia” the Pontiff explained “has a great Buddhist tradition, with many people who live their religiosity in a sincere and radical way, in silence, through altruism and mastery of their own passions. Just think of how many hidden seeds of goodness make the garden of the world flourish, while we usually only hear about the sound of falling trees!”. In the concluding part of the catechesis, the Pope said that the fact of having been in the heart of Asia "has" done him good. It is good” he added “to enter into dialogue with that vast continent, to glean its messages, to know its wisdom, its way of looking at things, to embrace time and space. It was good for me to meet the Mongolian people, who cherish their roots and traditions, who respect the elderly and live in harmony with the environment: they are a people who contemplate the sky and feel the breath of creation". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 6/9/2023)