The Orthodox Church in Romania is facing growing pressure to change baptism rituals after a baby died following a ceremony which involves immersing infants three times in holy water.
The six-week-old suffered a cardiac arrest and was rushed to hospital on Monday but he died a few hours later, the autopsy revealing liquid in his lungs. Prosecutors have opened a manslaughter investigation against the priest in the north-eastern city of Suceava.
Local media recounted several similar incidents in recent years. Church spokesman Vasile Banescu said priests could pour a little water on the baby’s forehead instead of full immersion. But Archbishop Teodosie, leader of the Church’s traditionalist wing, said the ritual would not change.