The founder of Amazon.com Inc. said on Wednesday he will serve as an honorary bishop for the Nepalese government, after an outpouring of support from the religious community.
Jeff Bezos, a founder of the online retail giant, is the only major billionaire who has never been ordained a bishop, but has made a point of visiting churches and giving sermons, often with a sermon-style presentation of his own.
The Dalai Lama has also been a regular visitor to Nepal, with visits to several churches and a series of public lectures on religion.
The religious community in Nepal has welcomed the move.
“As the founder of an international corporation, Jeff Bezos should be able to use his position of prominence to help all people, not just those who belong to the religion he loves,” said Maha Shrestha, the director of the Nepali chapter of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Benedictine nuns and monks have been in regular contact with the church since it was founded in 1884, when the first Christian missionaries arrived in the country.
The church’s leaders have not been shy in welcoming the arrival of the Amazon founder, who is a billionaire.
“He has been a great champion of Buddhism and Buddhism-inspired movements in the region, including the Buddhism of Nepal,” the Vatican said in a statement.
“We are grateful to have his contribution to Buddhism, and we hope that his teachings will continue to enrich the lives of all Nepaleses.”
Amazon.com announced the move in a press release on Wednesday.
“Jeff Bezos has been deeply involved in Nepal for over 60 years, and will be deeply honoured to be recognized as an official member of the government,” the statement said.
“Amazon is the most valuable company in the world and a powerful catalyst for economic development, which is why we’re proud to welcome him into the fold of Nepal’s government.
He will be welcomed with open arms and will serve his people as they have served him since his arrival.”
The announcement comes amid a major push by Nepali President Gyanendra Bains to boost his popularity and make him a more popular figure for the country’s increasingly secular government.
Bains has sought to woo the Nepalees to the government and has said the church’s presence will help him build support for his government.
A spokesperson for the president said Amazon would continue to “make contributions to the country.”
“We will continue our efforts to build a more inclusive and open society and we will continue working with the government of Nepal to make the church part of the country,” the spokesperson said in an email.
Amazon.co.jp reported a gain of 9 percent in second-quarter earnings, while Amazon.de reported a loss of 6 percent.
Amazon.co reported sales of $14.3 billion, up 8 percent from the same period last year.
Amazon reported sales in its fiscal third quarter rose 12.4 percent from a year earlier to $4.9 billion.
Analysts had expected sales of around $2.6 billion for the quarter, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists.