The death of a six-week-old baby hours after a baptism ceremony in Romania has sparked controversy and calls for the practice to be abolished.
An autopsy report says the baby suffered a cardiac arrest after he was immersed in holy water and liquid were found on his lungs.
Prosecutors have opened a manslaughter inquiry against the priest who carried out the baptism in the north-eastern city of Suceava
Over 60, 000 signatures have been gathered as of Thursday after an online petition calling for reform was instituted.
“The death of a newborn baby because of this practice is a huge tragedy,” said a message with the petition. “This risk must be ruled out for the joy of baptism to triumph.”
One of Romanian Archbishop Calinic who is the most senior member of the clergy to back reform. told Romanian website Adevarul that he believed in the future the practice of immersing a baby would be reviewed and “the most appropriate decision taken to respect [Church] ordinances and carefully avoid unwanted accidents”.
Similar incidents in the past have prompted the suggestion by Church spokesman, Vasile Banescu that the priests pour a little water on the baby’s forehead instead of immersing infants three times in holy water. But Archbishop Teodosie, leader of the Church’s traditionalist wing kicked against his suggestion stating that the ritual would not change.
However, this recent happening could force the Church to stop immersing infants in water as several people continue to kick against the practice.