Pope Francis baptises S Korean father of victim killed in Sewol ferry disaster

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 August, 2014, 4:14am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 August, 2014, 7:01pm


Pope Francis made another gesture yesterday toward families who lost loved ones in South Korea's ferry disaster, baptising the father of a student victim.

Lee Ho-jin took the Christian name "Francis" during the rite, which the pope administered in the Vatican's embassy in Seoul, according to the Vatican spokesman, Reverend Federico Lombardi.

Lee had been one of a dozen relatives of victims and survivors of the April ferry sinking who met privately with the pope on Friday. He asked to be baptised and Francis agreed.

Francis has gone out of his way to show support for the Sewol ferry families, who are demanding an independent inquiry into the sinking that killed more than 300 people, most of them high school students. Aside from meeting publicly and privately with them, he has worn a symbolic yellow ribbon on his cassock in solidarity.

Lombardi has said Francis was bot getting involved in their demands for a parliamentary inquiry but was merely offering them support and prayers. He said Francis was particularly pleased to have been asked to perform a baptism since South Korea's Catholic Church has been growing steadily thanks in large part to an unusually high number of adult baptisms.

In the afternoon, Francis said a Mass for thousands of people to close a gathering of Catholic youth from all over Asia. He urged them to care for the poor and the broken-hearted and listen to "the cry of so many people in our anonymous cities".

In a message that will resonate in South Korea, where consumer technology is a powerful force, the pope also warned of a growing "superficiality", especially among young people.

There was a "tendency to toy with the latest fads, gadgets and distractions, rather than attending to the things that really matter", he said during his speech to the Asian bishops.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse