Pope Extols Mongolia’s Long-Standing Religious Tolerance Since the Era of Genghis Khan During Inaugural Visit

by Chloe Baker
Interfaith Harmony

Pope Francis commenced his unprecedented papal journey to Mongolia on Saturday by lauding the nation’s historical commitment to religious freedom, a tradition that can be traced back to its founder, Genghis Khan. The Pope initiated his visit with an urgent call for peace and a stern warning against the pervasive danger of corruption.

Meeting with Mongolian President Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh within the confines of a traditional Mongolian yurt, erected inside the presidential palace, Pope Francis inscribed a message in the official guestbook. He characterized Mongolia as “a nation both youthful and ancient, simultaneously modern and steeped in tradition,” and presented himself as a messenger of peace.

“May the expansive clear sky, under which the Mongolian land thrives, light up new avenues of mutual respect and unity,” he penned.

Pope Francis aims to engage with Mongolia’s nascent Catholic community, which numbers approximately 1,450. Additionally, his visit serves as a diplomatic outreach in a region where the Vatican has often found itself at odds with neighboring Russia to the north and China to the south.

Though Christianity has existed in the geographical area for centuries, the Catholic Church secured its official presence in Mongolia only after the country transitioned away from a Soviet-aligned communist regime in 1992 and formally adopted religious freedom in its constitution.

In his public statements, Pope Francis celebrated Mongolia’s enduring culture of religious freedom, remarking that such inclusivity existed even during the expansive rule of the Mongol Empire. At its zenith, this empire extended as far west as Hungary and remains unparalleled as the largest contiguous land empire in global history.

“The ability of your forefathers to incorporate such diverse and distant territories over multiple centuries underscores their exceptional skill in recognizing and harnessing the unique attributes of the various peoples within its extensive domain for collective growth,” said the Pope. “This paradigm merits acknowledgment and emulation in contemporary times.”

Nevertheless, Pope Francis emphasized the pressing necessity to confront corruption, subtly alluding to a recent scandal involving Mongolia’s trade relations with China, which included allegations of the theft of 385,000 tons of coal. In the past December, this issue led hundreds to protest under harsh winter conditions in the capital city.

The Pope cautioned against the risks posed by modern consumerism and its inherent focus on self-interest, stating that religions offer a buffer against “an ego-centric perspective that is indifferent to the welfare of others and the sanctity of long-standing traditions.”

“Religious values also act as a bulwark against the insidious menace of corruption, a phenomenon that imperils the progress of any community,” he added. “Corruption emerges from a self-serving and mercenary mindset that has depleted entire nations. It is symptomatic of a worldview that neglects broader fraternal concerns, focusing solely on individual gains.”

In alignment with the Pope’s sentiments, the Mongolian government has declared the year 2023 as an “anti-corruption year,” revealing a five-point plan in collaboration with Transparency International, a global organization combating corruption. Last year, the watchdog ranked Mongolia 116th on its Corruption Perceptions Index.

Later in the day, Pope Francis was scheduled to engage with the clergy and missionaries who serve Mongolia’s small Catholic population at the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral in the capital city.

The religion coverage from Big Big News is supported through a collaborative initiative with The Conversation US, funded by the Lilly Endowment Inc. The Associated Press holds exclusive responsibility for the content.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Religious Freedom and Peace

What is the main purpose of Pope Francis’ visit to Mongolia?

Pope Francis is visiting Mongolia to minister to its young Catholic community of 1,450 and to make a diplomatic outreach in a region where the Vatican has experienced complex relations with neighboring Russia and China.

What is the historical significance of religious freedom in Mongolia?

Mongolia’s tradition of religious freedom dates back to the times of its founder, Genghis Khan. The nation embraced religious tolerance even during the expansion of the Mongol Empire, which stretched across vast territories.

How does Pope Francis address the issue of corruption during his visit?

Pope Francis emphasizes the need to combat corruption, referring to contemporary challenges faced by Mongolia, such as the alleged theft of coal in a trade scandal with China. He warns against the dangers of a consumerist mindset and highlights the role of religions in guarding against corruption.

What message does Pope Francis convey regarding Mongolia’s cultural heritage?

Pope Francis praises Mongolia’s cultural heritage as a blend of modernity and tradition. He regards the historical ability of Mongol ancestors to incorporate diverse lands and peoples under the empire’s umbrella as a model to be embraced and rekindled in the present day.

How does the Mongolian government address corruption?

The Mongolian government designates 2023 as an “anti-corruption year” and implements a five-part plan in collaboration with Transparency International, a global anti-graft organization. The plan is based on principles to combat corruption and enhance transparency in the nation.

How does Pope Francis view the role of religions in today’s world?

Pope Francis sees religions as a counterbalance to an individualistic mindset and the threat of corruption. He believes that religious values promote fraternity, oppose corruption, and help prevent communities from becoming self-enclosed and solely focused on their own interests.

More about Religious Freedom and Peace

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BellaWriter September 2, 2023 - 3:59 am

pope’s visit showin’ respect for mongolia’s traditions, fightin’ corruption, good message for world, thumbs up!

Serena90 September 2, 2023 - 8:22 am

pope francis makin’ big moves in mongolia, spreadin’ peace & fightin’ corrupshun, respect!

EagleEye September 2, 2023 - 12:11 pm

cool article, pope’s words makin’ sense, religion against corrupshun, mongolia’s anti-corruption year, great!

CarloG September 2, 2023 - 4:00 pm

the mongol empire, sooo big, pope sayin’ their old ways good for today, stoppin’ corruption is key, thumbs up!

JSmith September 2, 2023 - 5:28 pm

wow, pope visitin mongolia, dat’s cool, talkin’ bout religus freedm n stuff, genghis khan times, big history!


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