Romanian Church under fire as six-week-old baby dies in baptism. Since a six-week-old baby died following a ceremony earlier this week, the Orthodox Church in Romania is under increasing pressure to change baptism procedures.
During the Baptism on Monday, the baby boy allegedly suffered a heart arrest and was rushed to the hospital but died a few hours later, with liquid found by autopsy in his lungs.
Prosecutors have now opened a manslaughter investigation against the priest in the north-eastern city of Suceava.
By Thursday evening, an online petition asking for improvements to the ritual had collected more than 56,000 signatures.
“The death of a newborn baby because of this practice is an enormous tragedy,” the petition said in a letter.
Church spokesperson Vasile Banescu has proposed that priests pour a little water on the baby’s forehead because of many related accidents in recent years, instead of immersing children three times in holy water. Yet Archbishop Teodosie, the leader of the traditionalist wing of the Church, said that the ritual would not change.
More than 80% of Romanians are Orthodox and the Church is one of the most trusted institutions, according to recent opinion polls.