Six-week-old baby dies being held underwater 3 times at ultra-Orthodox baptism
A six-week-old baby died in Romania after he was dunked underwater three times during a baptism.
The infant suffered a cardiac arrest during the Romanian Orthodox Church and was rushed to hospital where he died.
An autopsy later revealed he had liquid in his lungs.
A manslaughter investigation against the priest's conduct during the baptism in the northeastern city of Suceava has been launched, it has been reported.
Baptism rituals conducted by the church always involves immersing infants in holy water three times in row
But following the incident the Orthodox Church is facing pressure to change them.
A petition calling for changes to the ritual had been signed by more than 56,000 signatures by Thursday evening.
It read: "The death of a newborn baby because of this practice is a huge tragedy.
"This risk must be ruled out for the joy of baptism to triumph."
Internet users hit out at the baptism rules in the country.
One denounced the 'brutality' of the ritual while another criticised the 'stubbornness of those who think that 'it is the will of God' to maintain it'.
There have been reports of several similar incidents in recent years in local media.
Church spokesman Vasile Banescu suggested priests could pour or sprinkle a little water on the baby's forehead instead of full immersion.
But Archbishop Teodosie, leader of the Church's traditionalist wing, insisted the ritual would not change.
During the rituals a priest is meant to hold a child's nose to make sure they do not breathe in any water.
Baptisms in Romania are large events, comparable to weddings, which often see hundreds of guests attending,
More than 80 percent of Romanians are Orthodox.
Recent polls have suggested that the church is one of the country's most trusted institutions.
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