The Romanian Orthodox Church is under strong pressure to modify its traditional ritual of baptism after the death of a baby after the ceremony.
The tragic incident occurred in the city of Suceava, in the northeast of the country, when a six-week-old boy suffered a cardiac arrest after his baptism in a local church in which he was submerged three times in “holy water”, following traditional rituals.
The prosecution opened a murder investigation against local parish priest while an online petition to modify the ritual had already exceeded 60,000 signatures on Thursday night.
“The death of a baby from this practice is a huge tragedy. This risk should be removed from the alageria of a baptism “says the text of the petition that began to go viral on the networks in the eastern European country.
Along with the petition, messages are repeated denouncing the “brutality” of the ceremony and “obstinacy” of the religious hierarchs who insist that “the will of God” is present in this ancient ritual.
The local media had already been reporting similar incidents with babies at baptism ceremonies in recent years.
A crack has even arisen in the interior of the Church, but it still does not seem to be enough for the modification
An Orthodox spokesman, Vasile Banescu, suggested that the parish priests could throw some photos of water on the child’s head, instead of submerging it. But Archbishop Theodosius, leader of the traditional branch of the Church, insisted that the ritual would not be modified.
At a baptism in a Romanian Orthodox church, the baby is completely submerged in the water three times in a row while the priest must cover his nose to ensure that he is not breathing water.
Christenings in Romania are big events, sometimes compared to weddings, often with hundreds of guests and a big party.
More than 80% of Romanians are Orthodox and the Church is one of the most trusted institutions, according to recent opinion polls.
With information from AFP
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