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TBC Staff

Will Pope Benedict become a Mormon after he dies? [Excerpts]

Pope Benedict was baptized at birth and will most likely be baptized again one year after his death, not by his Roman Catholic Church but by a Mormon he never met.

The Mormons, a U.S.-based denomination officially named the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), encourage members to baptize the dead by proxy in the belief they are helping the deceased attain full access to heaven.

Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Genghis Khan, Mao Zedong, King Herod, Al Capone and Mickey Mouse have all appeared for a short time in the International Genealogical Index for proxy baptisms, said Helen Radkey, a researcher specialized in the IGI.

"It seems that any kind of name at all may be submitted," said Radkey from Salt Lake City, where the Church is based. The IGI also accepts names for rites that "seal" spouses in eternal marriage or parents and children in eternal families.

The Catholics are not the only non-Mormons on the Church's International Genealogical Index (IGI), a list of those baptized or cleared for the rite in which a Mormon undergoes a full immersion baptism at a temple in the name of the dead person.

Jewish Holocaust victims, Protestant reformers Martin Luther and John Calvin and Mohammed ibn Abdel-Wahhab, founder of Saudi Arabia's stern version of Islam, have all popped up on the list.

A purged version of the IGI is on the Internet, at http://www.familysearch.org, a Web site run by the LDS church, but does not show which rites have been performed.

(Heneghan, Reuters, 2/5/07)

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