Six-week baby who died after baptism in Romania had severe pneumonia, autopsy finds. Church welcomes development

A six-week old baby boy who died after he was immersed during baptism had “severe bronchial pneumonia” the autopsy found.

The boy’s parents said they didn’t believe the findings which were reported Wednesday. They said they would sue the two coroners who made the report.

But the Romanian Orthodox Church which has come under fire for submerging infants during baptism, welcomed the findings.

The baby boy went into cardiac arrest after the January 31 baptism and later died in the northern Romanian city of Suceava. The ritual involves plunging infants in water three times.

A medical report found the child had 100 milliliters of liquid in its lungs.

The autopsy, released many weeks later, said “the death was pathological (non-violent),” and an external examination didn’t reveal any signs of violence.” It was signed by two coroners

The priest who performed the baptism, Alexandru Mazarache, was suspended and named a suspect in involuntary manslaughter probe.

But following the results of the autopsy, the priest deserves to be rehabilitated, the church said

“Maybe those that rushed to publicly crucify the priest before the results of the inquiry were released and demanded that the baptism ritual be changed, should now state their position. And courteously.” Orthodox Church spokesman Vasile Banescu said.

“When someone faces public opprobrium and they are innocent, whether they are a cleric or not deserves to be rehabilitated.”

The church to which more than 85% of Romanians belong faced calls to change the ancient ritual, which it resisted. However, it did say it would put in place some safeguarding rules.

It said it would ask priests to be more careful in the future and would improve how trainee priests learn the baptism ritual, an apparent nod to public anger over the death of the newborn.


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