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  Facundo Matos

(LifeSiteNews) — The Catholic community in Mongolia is minuscule, numbering 1,500 faithful, which suggests that the country has not really been deeply evangelized.

The presence there of the Successor of Peter presented an excellent opportunity: was it not possible, perhaps, to announce the name of Jesus Christ, with respect and cordiality towards the Buddhist listeners, and to present himself not as the bearer of a humanistic message but as what he is, the Vicar of Christ?

Unfortunately, the Pope’s trips are not evangelizing gestures but vaguely religious ones; the proclamation of the kerygma, as befits the apostolic office, is not primarily to be found in them.

This time it was a sermon against fundamentalism: “Closed-mindedness, unilateral imposition, fundamentalism and ideological coercion ruin fraternity, feed tensions and endanger peace.”

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St. Paul’s discourse in the Areopagus of Athens (Acts 17:22-31) is a model that analogically can be applied today to the relationship of Catholic Truth with the religiosity of “the nations.” The Apostle did not prepare an interreligious salad, like the one served in Mongolia. Incidentally, we can ask ourselves what a pastoral attitude, in a Christian sense, consists of.

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“Fundamentalism endangers peace,” headlines the Buenos Aires newspaper La Prensa on the Pope’s warning.

It is true: the progressive fundamentalism installed in Rome disturbs the peace of the Church, where disharmony spoils its beauty. At the meeting held at the Hun Theater in the capital Ulan Bator, where local shamans, Buddhist monks and an Orthodox priest were gathered, the Pontiff indiscriminately praised “religious traditions, in their originality and diversity [which] have a formidable potential for good, at the service of society.”

The Holy Father listened attentively as other religious, including Jews, Muslims, Baha’is, Hindus, Shintoists, Adventists, and Evangelicals, described their beliefs, and their relationship with the afterlife. Many noted that “the Mongolian yurt is a powerful symbol of harmony with the divine, a warm place of family togetherness, open to Heaven, and where all, even strangers, are welcome.” On the international level, the Pope pointed out that if those who govern nations “would choose the path of dialogue with others, they would contribute in a decisive way to putting an end to the conflicts that continue to cause suffering to so many peoples.”

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With Buddhists seated in the front row, he recalled the persecutions of which they were victims at the hands of the communist dictatorships of the region: “May the memory of those sufferings give us the strength to transform the dark wounds into sources of light, the ignorance of violence into the wisdom of life, the evil that ruins the good that builds.”

“The fact that we are together in the same place is already a message,” said the Vicar of Christ.

What would the Danish Socrates, Søren Kierkegaard, have thought of that message – especially the speeches? Surely, that it meant the abolition of Christianity.

The Kierkegaardian salt, having lost its flavor, entered into the composition of the salad together with Buddhist writings, Gandhi, and St. Francis of Assisi, all quoted in the Mass.

The Mass, celebrated in a sports stadium, was attended by many Chinese pilgrims, defying the prohibitions of the Beijing regime, which did not allow the bishops to leave the country. They traveled in trains for more than twenty hours to see the Pope; they prudently avoided talking to the press, being filmed or photographed. The liturgical celebration was attended by about two thousand faithful, among them pilgrims from the neighboring Asian colossus. During the Mass, the Pontiff spoke again to China; he asked Catholics “to be good Christians and good citizens.” Well-measured words.

The orientation of the Pontificate was clearly shown during the trip to Mongolia. It occurs to me to relate it to a recent expression of Pope Bergoglio, who envisioned his successor as John XXIV.

In my article “The New Pope” I sketched what seems to me desirable for the next pontifical turn. Why couldn’t the successor be Pius XIII, or Urban IX (Nono)? The eighth in the series reigned between 1623, and 1644. It would be a tribute to the Urbs, the Urbe, the eternal Rome, which occupies a privileged place in the heart of all Catholics.

The designs of God’s Providence are inscrutable.

+ Héctor Aguer

Archbishop Emeritus of La Plata.

Buenos Aires, Tuesday, September 12, 2023.

Memory of the Sweet Name of Mary