Filipino ex-con sponsors "heavenly" mass baptism

MANILA (Reuters Life!) - A Filipino ex-convict has sponsored a baptism ceremony for some 5,000 impoverished children, saying he wanted to offer them the chance of heaven.

Former lawmaker Mark Jimenez, who was jailed in the United States for tax evasion and illegal contributions to a Bill Clinton election campaign, also gave the children free clothes and shoes as well as paying for transportation and a reception.

"All I wanted is for them to have a chance, because the investment of the devil is so plentiful," the businessman told Reuters. "You see all the advertisement that is dangerous, but we don't have anything that relates to heaven."

Many poor Filipinos living on around 360 pesos ($7.8) a day in this predominantly Catholic country are unable to afford a private baptism, which costs around 3,000 pesos ($65).

So Jimenez's offer seemed -- literally -- like a god-send.

"Now, they can call rightfully call themselves Christians," said Norylene Epe, who baptized her three-year-old daughter and eight-month-old twins.

"We were able to bring them to this world even if we are poor, thanks to people who help."

Catholics comprise around 85 percent of the Philippines' estimated population of 89 million. Most go to church regularly and believe in the sanctity of baptism, communion and marriage.

22/08/2007

Bron : Reuters

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