As millions of Mexican Catholics followed the visit of Pope Francis, either in person or on television, another group of religious devotees were holding a precedent-setting ceremony in downtown Guadalajara’s most iconic plaza.
More than 2,000 followers of the Luz de Mundo denomination were baptized Sunday in the Plaza de la Liberacion, in a ceremony that was repeated in 53 other countries.
This is the first time that a church of any denomination has been allowed to carry out a mass religious act of this kind in such a prominent public forum.
“It’s an historic moment,” said Luz de Mundo spokesperson Ezequiel Zamora Flores.” And a triumph for our Apostle of Jesus Christ and brother Naason Joaquin.”
Zamora Flores said 40,000 Luz de Mundo members were baptized Sunday in similar ceremonies held around the world.
In an opinion piece published Tuesday in Spanish-language daily El Informador, Diego Petersen suggested the Citizens Movement, which now runs Guadalajara city hall, gave permission to Luz de Mundo to take over the plaza for religious purposes in return for their support in last year’s municipal elections. Thousands of the church’s members live in the Hermosa Provincia neighborhood of the municipality, where the denomination’s palatial, flagship temple is located.
According to Zamora Flores, more than 30,000 Luz de Mundo followers packed the city’s largest square Sunday to accompany those being baptized. All those participating were completely submerged under water in large pools set up in front of the Degollado Theater.
La Luz del Mundo describes itself as the restoration of primitive Christianity. It does not use crosses or images in its worship services and its members do not observe Christmas or Holy Week. Female members follow a dress code that includes long skirts and head coverings during religious services. The church claims to have some five million members worldwide in 2000, with 1.5 million in Mexico.