This Saturday Pope Francis will baptize 62-year-old Lee Ho-Jin, the father of one of the victims from the Sewol Ferry tragedy earlier this year in which close to 280 mostly young students were killed.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told CNA that the Pope met with some of the family members from the ferry tragedy before a Mass with thousands of Koreans at the World Cup stadium in Daejon.
He approached, blessed and “touched the head of each one of them and he shared his closeness” with them, Fr. Lombardi said.
Lee – who will be baptized at the Seoul nunciature on Aug. 17 – approached the Pope, the Vatican Spokesman said, after “having made a long pilgrimage carrying a cross and praying for his young son who died on the ferry.”
“He is an adult man that has asked to be baptized and tomorrow in the morning in the nunciature will be baptized by the Pope.”
Father Lombardi underscored that Lee “solicited baptism. Obviously, he was not Christian and that is why he asked for it, but it is clear that he has had preparation with prayer, and with this pilgrimage that he made, we can say that he has been on a spiritual journey.”
Lee Ho-Jin's name and age were confirmed to CNA by Fr. Lucas Kim, who accompanied the family members of the victims.
According to official sources, the cause of the ferry's shipwreck of Sewol was a sharp turn. At least 36 people were officially declared dead, and around 280 have not yet been found.
Announced by the Vatican in March, the Pope's Aug. 13-18 trip follows an invitation from the president of the Korean Republic, Park Geun-hye, and the bishops of Korea.
During his time, the Pope will travel from the capital city of Seoul to Daejon, where he will celebrate the Sixth Asian Youth Day with thousands of young people expected to attend. He will also visit the rehabilitation center for disabled persons in Kkottongnae, as well as a shrine in Haemi for a closing Mass with Asian youth.