400 Children Living In Slums Baptised In The Philippines

The mass baptism took place at the Manila Cathedral on January 14.Reuters

Hundreds of children from Manila's slums were baptised on Saturday during a mass ceremony as part of a Catholic outreach programme.

Many poor families are discouraged from taking part in religious rites because they can't afford to provide the feast that is expected afterwards.

The Tulay ng Kabataan Foundation (TNK), which is affiliated with the Catholic Church, therefore conducted its fifth mass baptism at Manila Cathedral on January 14, and all families that took part were given lunch afterwards.

The Church hoped to "eradicate the impression that poverty hinders them from receiving the grace of the different sacraments given by God," the Archbishop of Manila, Luis Antonio G Cardinal Tagle, said.

Communications manager at the TNK, Elise Cruse, told Inquirer.net that "Families living in the slums and on the streets of Metro Manila are not only exposed to danger and threats, they also go without the Sacraments for long periods of time."

"We observed that poor families think that they cannot get access to the sacraments because of their poverty," Cruse added.

"They often think that there is a fee, although these are for free."

Father Matthieu Dauchez, executive director of the TNK, helped to baptise the children, who came from the slum areas of Navotas, Tondo and Baseco.

"When it is so difficult to bring our wounded children to God, it is, on the opposite, very easy to bring the Lord to them through the Sacraments," he said.

About 80 per cent of the more than 100 million population in the Philippines Philippines are Roman Catholic.