08/16/2014, 00.00
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Baptised by the pope, father of a Sewol victim chooses Francis as his name

As expected, this morning Francis baptised Lee Ho-jin, a man who lost a son in the ferry sinking of 16 April. After the ceremony, the two talked briefly. Francis Lee says he is "grateful for the pope's love and closeness".

Seoul (AsiaNews) - At 7:30 am this morning (local time), Pope Francis baptised Lee Ho-jin, father of one of the victims of the sinking of Sewol. The latter chose the name Francis, and thanked the pontiff after the ceremony for the "love and closeness" he personally expressed to him and to victims' families.

Lee's daughter and some family members were present at the ceremony, which took place at the Nunciature in Seoul and was co-celebrated by the Pope himself and Nuncio Mgr Osvaldo Padilla.

Lee had personally asked the pope to be baptised when the two met just before the great Mass for the Assumption in Daejeon World Cup Stadium on Friday. On that occasion, a group of 11 people, including survivors and relatives of those who died on 16 April, briefly spoke with the pope in front of the sacristy before the liturgy.

Since then, the Holy Father has worn a yellow ribbon on his white mozzetta, as a token of support for the families who since the day of disaster have been asking for "truth and justice" from the South Korean government.

Lee Ho-jin had been attending a Catholic Church for about two years. To honour his son Seung-hyeon, who died in the sinking of the ferry, he carried a cross during the last pilgrimage in honour of the victims (900 kilometres on foot, a round trip from where his child was born to the harbour where the disaster took place).

"The Church has brought me a lot of comfort at this time of tragedy for all of us. I wanted to thank it however I could," he had told AsiaNews on the day of the Assumption. (VFP)

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