bishop of Mongolia will be the youngest cardinal | National Catholic Register
Originally from the Piedmont region of northern Italy, Bishop Giorgio Marengo has spent the past 19 years serving as a Consolata Missionary Priest.
An Italian who served as a missionary in Mongolia for nearly 20 years will soon become the world’s youngest cardinal.
At 47, Bishop Giorgio Marengo is the same age as Karol Wojtyła when Pope Paul VI announced he had been selected to join the College of Cardinals.
Cardinal-designate Marengo will receive a red hat along with 20 other new cardinals at a consistory on Aug. 27, just two years after his episcopal consecration.
“It’s a huge surprise for me,” Bishop Marengo told Vatican News the day after the pope’s announcement.
“For me, living this new vocation will mean continuing on the path of littleness, humility and dialogue,” he said.
Originally from the Piedmont region of northern Italy, Bishop Marengo has spent the past 19 years serving as a Consolata missionary priest in Mongolia.
Pope Francis appointed him Prefect of Ulaanbaatar, Apostolic Prefecture of Mongolia, in 2020. After a Meet with the Pontiff, Bishop Marengo said Pope Francis was “very interested in the Church in Mongolia and the Mongolian people in general.”
“We know how much the pope cares for the whole Church, even in areas where there are not many people; indeed, precisely where the Church is most in the minority,” he said.
Mongolia has a population of approximately 1,300 Catholics in a country of over 3 million people. The Apostolic Prefecture of Ulaanbaatar serves the whole country.
While serving as a Consolata missionary in Mongolia, Bishop Marengo established a new catechism program. He Told CNA in 2014 that the program sought to train young adults to become future catechists by providing courses in theology and on the Church and its mission.
“I believe being a bishop in Mongolia is very similar to the episcopal ministry of the early Church,” Bishop Marengo said.
“The Church is a very small reality, it is a minority, but there is this group of Mongolian faithful who have chosen, with great courage and also a sense of responsibility, to follow the Lord and to be part of the ‘Catholic Church”.
The first modern mission in Mongolia dates back to 1922 and was entrusted to the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. But under a communist government, religious expression was suppressed soon after, until 1992.
In 2002, the mission of Ulaanbaatar was elevated to the rank of current apostolic prefecture. The superior of the mission, the late Father Wenceslao Padilla, priest of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart, was appointed prefect and consecrated bishop the following year. Bishop Padilla died in September 2018. Mongolia’s first indigenous priest was ordained in 2016.
Bishop Marengo told Vatican News in 2020 that since the Mongolian Catholic community is so small, it is especially important to pay attention to interreligious dialogue and the cultural traditions of the Mongolian people.
“It means devoting time to knowing and studying the language, to refining those tools that allow us to enter into a real dialogue with people, to understand their points of reference, their history, their cultural and religious roots,” said he declared.
“And at the same time, in all of this, to be faithful to the Gospel itself…to offer with great humility, with great sincerity this precious pearl which we have received which is the Gospel of the Lord.”
Bishop Marengo grew up in Turin, Italy, studied theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and later earned a licentiate and doctorate from the Pontifical Urbaniana University.
He chose Respite ad eum and illuminamini like his episcopal motto, which means “Look towards him and you will be radiant”.
Until the August consistory, the youngest current cardinal is 55 Cardinal Dieudonne Nzapalainga from Bangui.
Bishop Marengo will be 48 on June 7.