News Archive

Mongolia Gets New Papal Nuncio

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 17, 2004 ( John Paul II named Archbishop Emil Paul Tscherrig as apostolic nuncio in Mongolia. The archbishop is also nuncio in Korea.

Formed 11 years ago, the young Catholic community of Mongolia grew by a third last Easter when more than 100 catechumens were baptized. The community has two parishes and a cathedral.

Although Mongolia's first evangelization dates back to the seventh century, the Church was really established after the fall of the atheistic Communist regime. The overwhelming majority of Mongolia's 2.7 million inhabitants are Buddhist. About 4% are Muslim.

Mongolia and the Holy See established diplomatic relations in 1997.

Archbishop Tscherrig, 57, has been apostolic nuncio in several Caribbean countries. He was named nuncio in Korea on May 22.

He is replacing Archbishop Giovanni Battista Morandini, who was named apostolic nuncio in Syria last March.

No holiday, but Mongolia's Catholics prepare for Christmas celebration

Ulan Bator, Dec. 18, 2003 (FIDES/ "It will be a Christmas of joy and hope in Mongolia, where the Church was established only eleven years ago," said Bishop Wenceslaw Padilla told the Fides news service.

Bishop Padilla, the Prefect Apostolic of Ulan Bator, told Fides that the country's small Catholic community is "preparing with fervor for the Christmas season."

"In Mongolia December 25 is not a holiday, but we will are creating a spiritual atmosphere of joy and expectancy which will culminate with Midnight Mass on December 24, which people can attend because it is after working hours," the bishop said.

In a country where Christianity is virtually unknown, Catholics face special challenges during the Christmas season, the bishop pointed out to Fides. While the tiny Catholic community will organize special celebrations, their neighbors will not understand their activities. As a result, the celebration itself can be a moment for evangelization. One priest told Fides, "I have told them that Christmas is the birthday of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is important to explain, because many have never heard of Christmas before."

Mongolian Ordinations Presided Over by Vatican Aide

ULAANBATAAR, Mongolia, JULY 10, 2002 ( The Church's apostolic prefecture of Mongolia has two new priests and a new deacon.

Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, ordained the three during a four-day visit to this northern Asian nation.

The cardinal arrived in Mongolia last Saturday from South Korea. On Sunday, he presided over the ordination Mass.

During the homily, Cardinal Sepe said the event was "an important step forward in the history of the Church in Mongolia, a young community, which is only 10 years of age."

Referring to the ordinands, he said, "Although they are not natives of the country, they have made Mongolia their home and land of hope."

On Tuesday, John Paul II raised this mission territory to the level of apostolic prefecture, thus laying the bases for the organization of an ecclesiastical structure.

Filipino Father Wenceslaw Padilla, religious of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (a Scheut missionary), will continue as superior of the Church in Mongolia. His religious family has been entrusted with the prefecture.

Mongolia Granted Status of Apostolic Prefecture
Alaska-Size Nation with 100 Catholics Is Upgraded from Mission

VATICAN CITY, JULY 8, 2002 ( John Paul II consolidated the birth of the Church in Mongolia, one of the countries in the world with the fewest number of Catholics, by establishing an apostolic prefecture.

The prefecture is the first step in the organization of an ecclesiastical hierarchy in a specific territory.

To date, the Church structure was the mission "sui iuris" (of its own right) of Urga, now Ulan-Bator, entrusted to the missionaries of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (CIHM).

Mongolia's Catholic community numbers only about 100 people, up from virtually none a decade ago. Four CIHM priests work in the country, as well as two Fidei Donum priests from South Korea. Six Salesian religious, who will open a vocational center, are expected in the near future.

Also present are five women CIHM missionaries, four Missionaries of Charity, and four religious of the Congregation of St. Paul of Chartres.

The Pope appointed Immaculate Heart of Mary Father Filipino Wens Padilla as first apostolic prefect of Ulan-Bator. Until now Father Padilla was superior of the mission "sui iuris."

The Alaska-size nation in northern Asia has a population of about 3 million.

The Holy See assigned the pastoral care of Mongolia to the CIHM missionaries as early as 1921. But they could not go there because the following year Mongolia was involved in the Soviet revolution, "falling inexorably under the control of Moscow," a Vatican press statement explained today.

"For more than 70 years Mongolia maintained nominal independence as, in fact, it depended for everything on Moscow. The Catholic Church was removed from that land," the Vatican note continues.

"In 1991, immediately after the fall of the Soviet empire, the government of Ulan-Bator requested the Holy See to send Catholic missionaries and to establish diplomatic relations," the statement adds.

This is how the CIHM missionaries were able to carry out the papal pastoral request made to them 70 years earlier. When the first religious arrived, they found no Christian communities.

"The fervor of the ecclesial action undertaken and the increase in the number of local Catholics give hope for the future," the Vatican note concludes.

Catholics in the home of Genghis Khan

Vatican City (Fides) The tiny Catholic community in the young state of Mongolia formerly part of Soviet Union, is growing. This year the Catholic Mission sui juris of Ulan Bator established in 1992, is marking its 10 anniversary this year. It is administered by Rev. Wens Padila CICM missionary. In view of a pastoral visit to Mongolia by Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, from 2-10 July, Fides Service is preparing a dossier on the Church in this part of Asia. The dossier complete with photographs will be available in and include also Mp3 files with Mongolian music.

In 1992 the Republic of Mongolia and the Holy See established diplomatic relations. Today the community comprises about 130 Catholics and 33 missionaries of various institutes who work in various fields: education, social assistance, home for street children. Almost 90% of the population, a little more than 2 million is Tibetan Buddhist. There are small groups of other Christians, Russian Orthodox and some protestant denominations. (24/5/2002)

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