This time, the news out of Romania is that Justin, a six-week-old infant has died hours after he was baptized in the Church of Saints Constantine and Helen in Suceava, Romania by Alexandru Mazarache.
Justin's father spoke with Monitorul saying, "I took him to church for Christanization, what I can tell you is that the boy was crying, but the priest submerged him three times in water, and he inhaled water."
"He had blood on his nose," the father recounted, so "I put him face down to get the water out," but "he did not recover." He described his son's heartbeat after the submersion as "a very low pulse."
He told the outlet that doctors found 110 ml (approximately 3.9 fluid ounces) of water in his lungs.
Dr. Dan Teodorovici of the Suceava County Hospital stated that the boy had been brought to the hospital and resuscitated, but that he had passed away early on Monday morning February 1. A forensic team will determine the exact cause of death.
A statement from the Basilica said, "According to press reports, the child felt unwell on Sunday, immediately after the third immersion at Baptism, and went into cardio-respiratory arrest. He was resuscitated in the church by the SMURD crew. The child was hospitalized in serious condition, hat to be intubated and mechanically ventilated. At night, around 1:00, the doctors declared his death.'
Archpriest of the Archdiocese of Suceava, Doru Budeanu confirmed that the child had been completely submerged in water by Mazarache, ordained in 2007, saying, "baptism is done by the third immersion, according to the ordinances of the Church."
"The father told me that the child cried, and before the baptism, including after he took him out of the baptismal font, he had vital signs... The only problem the father knew about was that he was born prematurely."
Vasile Bănescu, Romanian Patriarchate, Spokesperson further explained the procedure stating, "The Mystery of Baptism, according to the canons, is officiated in the Orthodox Churches by the priest or bishop through a threefold immersion in the name of the Holy Trinity. This immersion lasts two-three seconds and involves strict protection of the baby, whose back and neck are supported with the right hand, the mouth and nose being protected by the cup of the left hand, so that he cannot inhale any drops of water in the seconds when it is quickly sunk three times.”
Submersion of infants is not the only option, however, as "“There is also the possibility of baptism by pouring water on the baby’s head, three times, in the name of the Holy Trinity. This decision can be made in cases of necessity or depending on the health of the baby.”
He further stated that the Archdiocese was awaiting further information from the investigation, indicating that the Doctor had merely said that the child had fluid in his lungs, not whether it was water or possibly milk.
The baptism was being filmed for the family, and that footage has already been turned over to police. Police have opened a criminal case under culpable homicide.