Vatican publishes schedule for papal trip to Mongolia

Pope Francis’ visit to Mongolia between 31 August and 4 September will make him the first pope to visit this Asian nation, which is home to one cardinal and some 1,300 Catholics. The focus of the visit will be encounters with leaders of government and civil society and meetings with local Catholics. There will be an ecumenical and interreligious gathering as well as a Mass and the inauguration of a charity center.

Of the country’s more than 3.3 million people, about 1,300 are Catholic. About 52 percent are Buddhist, about 3 percent are Muslim, 2.5 percent are Shamanist and 1.3  percent are Christian. About 40.6 percent of the population identifies as “none” when it comes to religious affiliation.

The Catholic faith arrived in the 13th century during the Mongol empire, but it did not flourish and missionary work came to a halt after a socialist republic was formed in the 1920s. With the introduction of democracy in 1991, Catholic missionaries returned and diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Mongolia were established in 1992.

Here is the detailed schedule of the pope’s trip released by the Vatican 6 July. Times listed are local, with Eastern Daylight Saving Time in parenthesis.

Thursday, Aug. 31 (Rome)

— 6:30 p.m. (12:30 p.m.) Departure from Rome’s Fiumicino airport.

Friday, Sept. 1 (Ulaanbaatar)

— 10 a.m. (10 p.m. Aug. 31) Arrival at Chinggis Khaan International Airport in Ulaanbaatar and official welcome.

Saturday, Sept. 2 (Ulaanbaatar)

— 9 a.m. (9 p.m. Sept. 1) Welcome ceremony at Sukhbaatar Square.

— 9:30 a.m. (9:30 p.m. Sept. 1) Courtesy visit with President U.Khurelsukh at the State Palace.

— 10:20 a.m. (10:20 p.m. Sept. 1) Meeting with authorities, members of the diplomatic corps and local representatives in the Ikh Mongol hall at the palace. Speech by pope.

— 11 a.m. (11 p.m. Sept. 1) Meeting with G.Zandanshatar, chairman of Mongolia’s parliament, the State Great Khural.

— 11:10 a.m. (11:10 p.m. Sept. 1) Meeting with Prime Minister L.Oyun-Erdene.

— 4 p.m. (4 a.m.) Meeting with bishops, priests, religious, missionaries and pastoral workers at the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul. Speech by pope.

Sunday, Sept. 3 (Ulaanbaatar)

— 10 a.m. (10 p.m. Sept. 2) Ecumenical and interreligious meeting at the Hun Theater. Speech by pope.

— 4 p.m. (4 a.m.) Mass at the Steppe Arena. Homily by pope.

Monday, Sept. 4 (Ulaanbaatar, Rome)

— 9:30 a.m. (9 p.m. Sept. 3) Meeting with charity workers and the inauguration of the House of Mercy. Speech by pope.

— 11:30 a.m. (11:30 p.m. Sept. 3) Farewell ceremony at Chinggis Khaan International Airport in Ulaanbaatar.

— 12 p.m. (12 a.m.) Departure by plane for Rome.

— 5:20 p.m. (11:20 a.m.) Arrival at Rome’s Fiumicino airport.

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