CNA Newsroom, Aug 31, 2023 / 20:00 pm (CNA).
Pope Francis on Thursday sent a telegram to China President Xi Jinping and the people of China as the papal plane entered Chinese airspace on its way to Mongolia, where the pope is scheduled to visit through Sept. 4.
“I send greetings of good wishes to your excellency and the people of China as I pass through your country’s airspace en route to Mongolia,” the telegram read. “Assuring you of my prayers for the well-being of the nation, I invoke upon all of you the divine blessings of unity and peace.”
The pope is scheduled to land in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital, at approximately 10 a.m. local time Friday. Other than participating in an official welcoming ceremony at Chinggis Khaan International Airport as the plane arrives, the 86-year-old pope does not currently have anything else on his schedule for the day and is expected to rest after the 5,600-mile, 9.5-hour trip.
During his four-day visit to the world’s most sparsely populated sovereign country, Pope Francis is scheduled to meet with government leaders, engage in interreligious dialogue, and offer Mass for the small Catholic population, which numbers just 1,450 in a country of about 3 million people.
Francis will become the first pope in the history of the Catholic Church to visit Mongolia, a democracy sandwiched between the authoritarian powers of Russia and China.
On Wednesday, the pope asked for prayers ahead of his trip to “the heart of Asia.”
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