The Romanian Orthodox Church is under fire after a baby died from a baptism ceremony in which infants are immersed in holy water three times.
A six-week-old infant died of cardiac arrest in the hospital on Monday with the autopsy revealing liquid in his lungs, according to a report by the Agence France-Presse.
The Orthodox Church in Romania, where more than 80 percent of the population are Eastern Orthodox, now faces pressure to change baptism rules as prosecutors opened a manslaughter investigation against the priest in the city of Suceava.
Church spokesman Vasile Banescu said priests could pour a little water on a baby’s forehead instead of full immersion. But Archbishop Teodosie, leader of the Romanian Church, insisted that the ritual would not change.
“The death of a newborn baby because of this practice is a huge tragedy,” read a message, translated from Romanian, in an online petition. “This risk must be ruled out for the joy of baptism to triumph.”
The petition has received nearly 64,000 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon.
Featured image credit: Daniel Mihailescu/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images
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