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Mongolia is on Pope Francis' travel itinerary in September

Pope Francis greets an employee of ITA Airways, the Italian government-owned airline that flies the pope on his trips abroad, during an audience at the Vatican on April 14, 2023. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

Pope Francis has planned to visit Mongolia, the world's most sparsely populated sovereign state, in September, according to the Vatican News on April 14.

The pope told Italian airline employees he would visit Mongolia after Hungary and France in the coming months.

“In two weeks, God willing, I will leave for my 41st pilgrimage to visit Hungary, Marseille, then Mongolia,” the pope said at a Vatican audience with Italian Airways staff.

Pope Francis would become the first pope to visit Mongolia, which shares a 2,880-mile border with China, Mongolia's major economic partner.

There are about 1,300 Catholics in Mongolia out of a total population of over 3 million.

The Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was tasked with the first modern mission to Mongolia in 1922; religious expression was banned under communist rule until 1992.

Father Joseph Enkh Baatar (36) is Mongolia's first native priest, who was ordained in 2016.

Pope Francis appointed a Mongolian missionary who had served there for nearly 20 years as the world's youngest cardinal last year. Cardinal Giorgio Marengo, 48, is the apostolic prefect of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, serving the entire country.

With a population density of five people per square mile and a nomadic or semi-nomadic population of about 30%, Mongolia is roughly the size of Alaska.

One-third of Mongolia is covered by the vast Gobi Desert, which borders Russia to the north and China to the south. Mongolia is the second-largest landlocked country in the world.

Pope Francis first mentioned a possible trip to Mongolia during a press conference on his return flight from South Sudan.

He told reporters that “there is a possibility from Marseille to fly to Mongolia.”


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.