Ulaanbaatar, Sep 2 (EFE).- Pope Francis wished for “the dark clouds of war” to be dispelled in a plea for peace in his first official speech in Mongolia on Saturday.
Pope Francis (L) attends a welcome ceremony with Mongolian President Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh at the State Palace in Sukhbaatar Square in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 02 September 2023. EFE-EPA/CIRO FUSCO
After meeting the country’s president, Ukhnaagiin Khürelsükh, Francis praised Mongolia’s efforts to promote human rights and peace and its determination to remain a country without nuclear weapons, the Vatican said on its website.
An honor guard stands in front of the State Palace during a welcome ceremony for Pope Francis in Sukhbaatar Square in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 02 September 2023. EFE-EPA/CIRO FUSCO
“Here, in this country so rich in history and open to the sky, let us implore this gift from on High, and together let us strive to build a future of peace,” in a world “devastated by countless conflicts,” the Pope said.
“May the dark clouds of war be dispelled, swept away by the firm desire for a universal fraternity wherein tensions are resolved through encounter and dialogue, and the fundamental rights of all people are guaranteed!” he added in his address to Mongolia’s authorities, civil society, and diplomatic corps in the State Palace of Ulaanbataar.
Francis arrived in the predominantly-Buddhist country on Friday to encourage the small Catholic community numbering about 1,400.
Sandwiched between Russia and China, Mongolia maintains good relations with both Beijing and with other countries in the region, including North Korea.
The Pope also praised Mongolia’s “profound spiritual sensitivity,” calling it a “symbol of religious freedom.”
“When religions remain grounded in their original spiritual patrimony, and are not corrupted by sectarian deviations, they prove to be trustworthy supports in the construction of healthy and prosperous societies,” he said.
Having left behind the atheist ideology of the past Communist regime, Mongolia “has now come to acknowledge and respect the fundamental importance of harmonious cooperation between believers of different faiths, each of whom, from his or her own particular point of view, contributes to the moral and spiritual advancement of peoples,” he added.
Pope Francis hoped that his visit would deepen cooperation and dialogue between the Church and Mongolia.
“I am certain that Mongolian Catholics will continue to offer readily their proper contribution to the building of a prosperous and secure society, in dialogue and cooperation with all others who dwell in this great land kissed by the sky,” he said. EFE