Pope Francis, showing a bruise around his left eye and eyebrow caused by an accidental hit against the popemobile’s window glass while visiting the old sector of Cartagena,Colombia, is greeted by faithful on September 10, 2017. Nearly 1.3 million worshippers flocked to a mass by Pope Francis on Saturday in the Colombian city known as the stronghold of the late drug lord Pablo Escobar. / AFP PHOTO
Pope Francis on Monday wrapped up his visit to Mongolia, where he met with the local Catholic community and representatives of other faiths and called for harmony between religions.
The head of the Catholic Church left the East Asian country for Rome after an official farewell ceremony at Genghis Khan airport.
Earlier, the 86-year-old had opened a social centre in Ulaanbaatar and met employees of the church relief organisation Caritas.
The Catholic community in Mongolia, the world’s second-largest landlocked country, has just 1,500 believers.
On Sunday, Pope Francis celebrated a mass for some 2,000 people in the Steppe Arena in Ulaanbaatar. As well as Mongolian Catholics, pilgrims from China and elsewhere in Asia also attended.
Francis was the first pope to visit the huge country between Russia and China, which has a population of 3.4 million.
Buddhism is the country’s largest religion.
One of the visit’s main aims was to strengthen the small Catholic community in Mongolia and to promote dialogue between religions.
Francis also called for harmony between religions at an interfaith meeting, telling those present that religion’s true role is to bring harmony to a world torn apart by strife and discord.
During the visit, the pope also commented on the powerful neighbouring state of China, which is repeatedly accused of curtailing religious freedoms and repressing minorities.
The pontiff is expected in the Italian capital Rome at 5:20 pm (1520 GMT), after which he would return to the Vatican.