Catholic Mongolians welcoming Pope Francis in Ulaanbaatar Catholic Mongolians welcoming Pope Francis in Ulaanbaatar  (Vatican Media)

Pope’s visit encourages Church in Mongolia 'to be close to the poor'

The Director and Executive Manager of Caritas Mongolia highlight the legacy Pope Francis will leave to the Church in the country, as the Church's local humanitarian outreach agency seeks to assist people on the margins of society.

By Lisa Zengarini and Linda Bordoni

Social works for the poor and human promotion are an important part of the Mongolian Catholic Church’s missionary activity, and Caritas Mongolia plays a central role in this field.

The Church's local humanitarian outreach agency started its activities in Mongolia by helping herders affected by extreme winter conditions, known as a zud, between 1999 and 2000, and became an official member of the Caritas Internationalis network in 2010.

Over the years the Catholic organization has expanded its programmes, which include education, social and humanitarian assistance, food security and agriculture, migration, rebuilding of livelihoods, and community-building projects in rural areas.

Reducing the impact of natural disasters and the protection of the environment have also been a priority, as the country faces severe pollution problems caused by the mining industry and by the high consumption of coal during the cold winter months.

Pope raising awareness on environmental protection

According to Nasansjargal Jamaa, Caritas Mongolia's Executive Manager, one of the most valuable legacies of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Mongolia will be raising awareness on this important issue, which the Pope recalled in his first public speech to the authorities on Saturday, 1 September.

“I think the Laudato si’ is one of his most important encyclicals,” she said in an interview with Vatican News' Linda Bordoni.

Closeness to the marginalized

For her part, Caritas Mongolia's Director, Sister Anne Waturu, who detailed to Vatican News the vast range of activities of the organization and its partners, said that the Pope’s visit will encourage the Church in Mongolia to be close to people on the margins of society.

“This is a big lesson that gives us hope and also the courage to continue our work with the marginalised,” she said. Poverty and the gap between rich and poor have increased significantly in the country over the past two decades, added Ms. Nasansjargal.

Caritas Mongolia's projects and funding

Caritas Mongolia currently runs seven main programmes: Capacity-Building of Cooperatives, Education, Emergency Response, Food Security & Agriculture, Women leadership and Advocacy, Research & Development, and Social Reintegration.

Its work is guided by a community-based approach founded on the principles of Catholic Social Teaching, so as to promote the values of human dignity, preference for the poor, participation, community and the common good, the dignity of work, stewardship of God’s creation, solidarity and the promotion of peace.

Ms. Nasansjargal highlighted that one of the main challenges facing the organization is finding resources for its staff and projects, as its activities depend entirely on external funding.

Listen to the interview

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02 September 2023, 14:01