Pope Francis’s visit to Mongolia is completely unexpected

G.Perlimaa offers a tribute to the sky by splashing a cup of freshly boiled milk tea just outside her yurt on the edge of Mongolia’s grasslands, following an age-old tradition. With Pope Francis set to arrive on Thursday in Ulaanbaatar, the capital, she and several fellow parishioners hope to greet him and follow his every step until he leaves on Sept. 4.

“I am so excited that he is coming and I’ll get the chance to meet him in person, especially since he is the leader of the Catholic religion,” she said. “I can’t wait to see him.” “For me, I offer this to our god and pray, without losing our culture,” said G.Perlimaa, who belongs to Mongolia’s tiny Catholic minority, which the Church says numbers about 1,450.

Still, the news of Pope Francis’s visit to her landlocked country was completely unexpected. The nation of about 3.3 million is strategically significant for the Roman Catholic Church because of its proximity to China, where the Vatican is trying to improve the situation of Catholics.

About 60% of Mongolians identify as religious. Buddhists make up 87.1% of this number, with Muslims accounting for 5.4%, while 4.2% are Shamanist, 2.2% Christian and 1.1% follow other religions, the U.S. State Department says.

(source: Strait Times)

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