Pope Francis blesses a child upon his arrival for the Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup stadium in Daejeon. Picture: Lee Jin-man/Pool

Daejeon, South Korea -

Pope Francis has met with survivors of South Korea's ferry disaster and relatives of the dead who are demanding a government inquiry into the sinking.

The Vatican spokesman said Francis met on Friday with about a dozen people in a room inside the soccer stadium in the central city of Daejeon where he was to celebrate a Mass for about 50 000 Asian Catholics.

Most of the more than 300 people killed when the ferry Sewol sank in April were high school students on a class trip. Their relatives are pushing lawmakers to set up an independent, transparent probe of the cause of the sinking. The ruling party is opposed because it says a parliamentary committee doesn't have the power to indict.

The Vatican spokesman says Francis wouldn't intervene in the issue. - Sapa-AP