On 4 September, marking his final day in Ulaanbaatar, Pope Francis stood before a gathering of charitable organisations and volunteers, expressing his gratitude for their warm welcome, which included traditional Mongolian song and dance.
He began his address drawing inspiration from the words of Jesus: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink”.
“In those words, the Lord gives us the criterion for recognizing His presence in our world and the condition for entering into the supreme joy of His kingdom at the Last Judgement,” Pope Francis said.
He went on to highlight the longstanding tradition of charity within the Church, emphasising how the early Christian community’s commitment to service helped build the Church on the pillars of communion, liturgy, service, and witness.
Pope Francis noted how the spirit of charity permeates the small but vibrant Church in Mongolia, describing it as a testament to the enduring values of communion, prayer, selfless service, and faith.
Pope Francis then turned his attention to the “House of Mercy,” a tangible expression of the Church’s care for others.
“Generous service to our neighbours,” he said, “has distinguished this vibrant portion of the people of God from its inception.”
He acknowledged the numerous charitable initiatives that have sprung from these roots and expressed his gratitude, saying “those projects continue to draw upon the dedication of missionaries from many countries who put their knowledge, experience, resources, and especially their love, at the service of Mongolian society.”
Describing the House of Mercy as a place where all are welcome, Pope Francis encouraged volunteers to step forward and embrace the ethos of selfless service.
He emphasized that volunteer work is not just for the wealthy but for people of modest means who choose to devote their time and resources out of love for others.
Pope Francis also rejected several common myths surrounding charity work.
“First, the myth that only the wealthy can engage in volunteer work. Reality tells us the opposite. It is not necessary to be wealthy to do good; rather, almost always it is people of modest means who choose to devote their time, skills, and generosity to caring for others.”
He clarified that the Catholic Church’s commitment to social promotion is not driven by proselytisation, saying, “No! Christians do whatever they can to alleviate the suffering of the needy, because in the person of the poor, they acknowledge Jesus, the Son of God, and, in him, the dignity of each person, called to be a son or daughter of God.”
Finally, he emphasised that charity should not become a business.
“Charity demands professionalism, but charitable works should not turn into businesses,” he said. “Rather, they should retain their freshness as works of charity where those in need can find people ready to listen to them with compassion, regardless of whatever pay they may receive.”
Pope Francis concluded his address with an anecdote about Saint Teresa of Calcutta, who exemplified selfless love by tending to the sick out of love for God rather than for monetary gain.
The Pope also expressed his hope that this kind of gratuitous love would be the driving force behind the House of Mercy.
In closing, Pope Francis thanked all those involved in charitable works and extended his blessings.
He urged everyone, in their charity, to pray for him and called upon the citizens of Mongolia to embrace volunteer work and foster a culture of compassion for the common good.
As he marked this final public event during his visit to Mongolia, the Pope left behind a message that selfless love is the path to personal and societal growth.