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Pope Francis and Mongolia’s Catholics under one roof at papal Mass

Since he started the trip, Pope Francis has praised religious freedom in Mongolia. The landlocked country borders China, which human rights groups say represses religious freedom.

In unscripted comments at the end of the Mass, the pope sent greetings to China, making another overture to Beijing to ease restrictions on religion.

“ANCIENT SCHOOLS OF WISDOM”

The inter-religious meeting was attended by leaders representing Mongolian Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, evangelical and Orthodox Christians, Mormons, Hindus, Shintos, Bahais and shamans.

“Brothers and sisters, today we are meeting together as the humble heirs of ancient schools of wisdom. In our encounter with one another, we want to share the great treasure we have received, for the sake of enriching a humanity so often led astray on its journey by the myopic pursuit of profit and material comfort,” he said.

Pope Francis, 86, quoted from a writings of the Buddha that says “the wise man rejoices in giving”, noting it was similar to Jesus’ saying “It is more blessed to give than to receive”.

Conservative Catholics, such as Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan, have lambasted the pope for attending such gatherings, calling them “a supermarket of religions” that diminishes the status of the Catholic Church.

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