Around 110 milliliters of water were found in the little one's lungs who is being described as "extremely fragile."
A day of celebration turned into a tragic event for a couple after the death of their infant son. The six-week-old baby suffered a cardiac arrest during the baptism ceremony in Romania. As a result, the Orthodox Church is under immense pressure to change the age-old tradition.
The baby was immersed in holy water thrice as per the tradition but during the ceremony, the baby had to be rushed to the hospital as the little one suffered an unexpected heart attack in the church. Despite the efforts taken by the doctors, the little soul passed away after a few hours. The autopsy revealed that the baby had water in his lungs.
The baby's grieving father revealed to a local media outlet that around 110 milliliters of water were found in the young one's lungs. "The boy was crying but the priest submerged him three times in water and he inhaled water. [I] removed him, wiped him, from the doctors I found out he inhaled 110ml of water... If you see a child with a gaping mouth and crying you wouldn’t immerse him completely in water, would you?" reported Monitorul de Suceava.
Six-week-old baby dies following baptism after its head was put under water three times https://t.co/xTrLjIK8gZ— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) February 6, 2021
The heartbroken dad was furious about the way the priest continued with the ceremony and ignored his baby's condition when he immersed him into the holy water for the third time. The father added that blood was oozing out of the little one's nose, so he "put him face down to get the water out. He didn’t recover," he added.
Dan Teodorovici, a local spokesperson for the hospital, gave more details and said, "A one-month-and-a-half baby was found in cardiac arrest in the church after the baptism service. The baby was respited by the SMURD unit that arrives on the spot. He was hospitalized in serious condition in the hospital’s intensive care unit, was intubated and mechanically ventilated." Another local media, Antena 3 revealed that the baby was "extremely fragile" because he was born prematurely.
Ever since the tragic death of the baby, more than 61,000 people have signed an online petition demanding to change the baptism ritual. All they're asking is a change that can help avoid the "risk of drowning, especially in the case of children with health problems," read Vladimir Dumitru's email to CNN.
Shock: Orthodox Church under attack following death of baby after baptism https://t.co/cYjTQnWRaR— The Deacon's Bench (@DeaconGregK) February 6, 2021
"The petition is not directed against the institution of the Church or against the priests but has a constructive intention," he added. In his petition, Vladimir suggested that the age-old tradition can be modified by "the symbolic watering of the baby's head with water from the baptismal font" instead of immersing them into the baptismal font.
The authorities have opened a manslaughter investigation involving the priest who carried out the ceremony. Initially, the police had opened a criminal case for culpable bodily harm, however, now the case has been changed to culpable homicide, as per Monitorul de Suceava. The event's recording has been given to the police as evidence.
Prosecutors have opened a manslaughter probe against the priest in the northeastern city of Suceava. https://t.co/PbWQvdkLdy— TheJournal.ie (@thejournal_ie) February 5, 2021
A spokesman for the Romanian Patriarchate, Vasile Bănescu told Antena 3, "It is, without a doubt, a tragic case, a case that will have to be investigated. Let's not imagine that a child can be put in water without covering his nose, mouth, and ears. There is a technique that an experienced priest always uses. This is how a baptism is celebrated with the utmost care."
Even though the archpriest said that they are open to rules and recommendations on how to perform the holy ceremony in the future to avoid such tragic incidents, as per Monitorul de Suceava's report, the Archbishop of Tomis has refused to even consider the idea. He made it very clear by saying, "We will never change the ritual," reported BBC. "The canons of this religion have been in place for over 1,000 years. That is why we won't change. We are not intimidated."