· Vatican City ·

Steppe Arena

Seeds of peace in a world marred by conflict

 Seeds of peace in a world marred by conflict  ING-036
08 September 2023

At the conclusion of Holy Mass in the Steppe Arena in Ulaanbaatar on Sunday, 3 September, Pope Francis invited two Chinese bishops to join him at the altar. After extending a greeting to “the noble Chinese people”, the Holy Father addressed the faithful present, encouraging them to foster good relations with people of other religions. “May we continue to grow closer in fraternity”, he said, “as seeds of peace in a world tragically devastated by all too many wars and conflicts”. The following is the English text of the Pope’s words, which he shared in Italian.

Thank you, Your Eminence, for your kind words, and thank you for your gift! You mentioned that in these days you could feel how dear the people of God in Mongolia are to my heart. That is true: I embarked on this pilgrimage with great anticipation, with the desire to meet all of you and to get to know you. Now I thank God for you, since, through you, he loves to use what is little to achieve great things. Thank you, because you are good Christians and honest citizens. Go forward, gently and without fear, conscious of the closeness and the encouragement of the entire Church, and above all the tender gaze of the Lord, who forgets no one and looks with love upon each of his children.

I greet my brother bishops, the priests, the consecrated men and women, and all the friends who have come here from different countries, particularly from various regions of the immense continent of Asia, in which I am honoured to find myself. I embrace all of you with great affection. I am especially grateful to all those who assisted the local Church with their spiritual and material support.

In these days, important Government delegations have been present at every event. I thank the President and the Authorities for their welcome and hospitality, and for all of the preparations that were made. I felt at first hand your traditional friendliness; thank you!

I also offer a warm greeting to our brothers and sisters of other Christian confessions and other religions. May we continue to grow closer in fraternity, as seeds of peace in a world tragically devastated by all too many wars and conflicts.

My heartfelt thanks likewise go to all those who have worked, so hard and for such a long time, to make my Journey possible and successful, and to all those who prepared for it by their prayers.

Your Eminence, you reminded us that in the Mongolian language the word for “Thank you” comes from the verb “to rejoice”. My own “Thank you” dovetails perfectly with this marvellous insight of the local language, for it is full of joy. It is a great “Thank you” to the Mongolian people, for the gift of friendship that I received in these days, for your genuine capacity to value even the most simple aspects of life, to wisely preserve relationships and traditions, and to cultivate daily life with care and attention.

The Mass is itself a way of giving thanks: “Eucharistía”. To celebrate Mass in this land brought to my mind the prayer that the Jesuit Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin offered to God exactly a hundred years ago, in the desert of Ordos, not far from here. He prayed: “My God, I prostrate myself before your presence in the universe that has now become living flame: beneath the lineaments of all that I shall encounter this day, all that happens to me, all that I achieve, it is you I desire, you I await”. Father Teilhard de Chardin was engaged in geological research. He fervently desired to celebrate Holy Mass, but lacked bread and wine. So he composed his “Mass on the World”, expressing his oblation in these words: “Receive, O Lord, this all-embracing host, which your whole creation, moved by your magnetism, offers you at the dawn of this new day”. A similar prayer had already taken shape in him when he served as a stretcher-bearer on the front lines during the First World War. This priest, often misunderstood, had intuited that “the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world” and is “the living centre of the universe, the overflowing core of love and of inexhaustible life” (Laudato Si’, 236), even in times like our own, marked by conflicts and wars. Let us pray this day, then, in the words of Father Teilhard de Chardin: “Radiant Word, blazing Power, you who mould the manifold so as to breathe life into it, I pray you, lay on us those your hands — powerful, considerate, omnipresent”.

Dear brothers and sisters of Mongolia, thank you for your witness. Bayarlalaa! [Thank you!]. May God bless you. You are in my heart, and in my heart you will remain. Remember me, please, in your prayers and in your thoughts. Thank you.