Pope Francis dispels a myth about charity

On his last day in Mongolia, Pope Francis was greeted by two young children dressed in traditional attire outside the House of Mercy.

Once inside, the center director, Father Andrew Tran Le Phuong, welcomed the pope and explained the mission of the house.

"We have created a home where all are welcome," Father Tran le Phuong said. "Our hope is to create a place of shelter for vulnerable people, especially women and children, so that they can gather in a loving environment and feel valued, safe and at peace."

After listening to the testimonies of a religious sister and a woman with a disability, a group of young people from Catholic educational institutions performed a song.

A young child presented Pope Francis with a picture, and on the back of the frame was written, “We love you Pope Francis.”

In his message to the charity workers, the pope described the House of Mercy as a concrete example of service to others. He explained that the real test of a country is its dedication to providing centers of healthcare and education for its people.

"The true progress of a nation is not gauged by economic wealth, much less by investment in the illusory power of armaments, but by its ability to provide for the health, education and integral development of its people," Pope Francis said. "For this reason, I would like to encourage all the citizens of Mongolia, who are well known for their generosity and capacity for self-sacrifice, to engage in volunteer work, placing themselves at the service of others."

In order to live out this service, the pope dispelled three myths: that it is necessary to be rich to provide help, that only money counts and that charity is done for the purpose of proselytizing.

"Another myth needing to be dispelled is that the Catholic Church, distinguished throughout the world for its great commitment to works of social promotion, does all this to proselytize, as if caring for others were a way of enticing people to 'join up.' No!" he said.

At the end of the meeting, Pope Francis inaugurated the house, blessing the plaque commemorating his visit. He also gave the director an icon of the Virgin and Child.

After leaving the House of Mercy, the pope made his way to the Ulaanbaatar International Airport. There, he bid farewell to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and boarded the plane for the 11-hour flight back to Rome.