Pope baptises father of Korea ferry disaster victim

Pope baptises father of Korea ferry disaster victim
Pope Francis prays in front of the white wooden crosses of the unborn children garden during his visit to the "House of Hope" center for the disabled, in Kkottongnae in Eumseong, South Korea.

SEOUL - Pope Francis on Sunday baptised the father of one of hundreds of high school students killed in South Korea's Sewol ferry disaster in April, the pontiff's spokesman said.

Lee Ho-Jin, 56, who lost his youngest son in the tragedy, was baptised in a simple ceremony at the Vatican embassy in Seoul, choosing Francis as his baptismal name.

Lee had asked the pope to baptise him when Francis held a private audience with a group of Sewol survivors and victims' relatives before holding a mass in the central city of Daejeon on Friday.

"The pope was only too happy to be able to conduct an unscheduled baptism of an adult into the Korean Church," spokesman Federico Lombardi said.

Last week Lee had completed a pilgrimage from the site of the ferry disaster to Daejeon, to help overcome the grief of losing his son.

The Sewol ferry capsized on April 16 off the southern coast, with the loss of 300 lives, most of them high school students on an organised trip.

The relatives have urged the pope to support their campaign for a full, independent inquiry into the Sewol sinking, which has largely been blamed on regulatory failings and negligence.

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