Moldovan priest faces homicide charge after baby drowns during a baptism

Moldovan priest faces homicide charge after baby drowns during a baptism July 28, 2010

POLICE in Moldova have opened an investigation into the death of a six-week-old baby who died after being baptised.
According to this report, witnesses at the ceremony said the priest, Father Valentin, did not cover the baby’s mouth during the ritual.
The baby died on the way to hospital and an autopsy found he had drowned, the baby’s dad Dumitru Gaidau told Romania’s Publica TV.

Father Valentin pictured carrying out the fatal baptism
Gaidau, 36, said his son was clearly in distress during the ceremony.

He couldn’t inhale, his face turned blue and he was foaming at the mouth. He [the priest] said we should not interrupt the ritual. We couldn’t believe it that he just put his hand over his belly and over the head and submerged him three times in the water.

Water was found in the baby’s lungs.
The baby’s godmother, Aliona Vacarciuc, said the baby had been crying as the priest submerged him in the water.

We couldn’t believe it but we thought the priest must know what he’s doing, but he didn’t. When we got him back there was nothing that could be done anymore.

When the baby’s angry relatives confronted the priest, he told them he knew what he was doing and was experienced at baptisms, Ms Vacarciuc said.
If found guilty of accidental homicide, Father Valentin could spend three years in jail.

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  • Har Davids

    It’s sad this happened, but I couldn’t help coming up with the title of a film – “One baptism and a funeral” – at the same time. Just another example of religion and moronism travelling through life hand in hand. Will we ever grow up as a species?

  • barriejohn

    I can’t help it, but this reminded me immediately of one of my favourite comic verses: “Your baby ‘as gawn dahn the plug’ole”.
    I must say that my preferred last line has always been: “Not lost – but gawn before”!

  • barriejohn

    I well recall when one of my cousins had a baby that was not expected to live very long, and the family were over the moon that the vicar had managed to get to the hospital and “baptize” it before the poor little thing departed this scene. Words fail me at people’s utter stupidity and gullibility!

  • Maggie

    Death by superstition. Tsk.
    I prefer death by chocolate.

  • barriejohn

    The priest did, of course, do the right thing. If the baby was showing signs of distress, then it was much more important to complete its “baptism” than summon mere human assistance. The parents can now rest in the assurance that the poor little mite has gone to a “better place”, unlike all the millions of unbaptized infants who, at this very moment, languish in Limbo (or some such place!). This, of course, does rather beg the question of why, as Creator Of The Universe, Jebus couldn’t just transfer them all to Heaven at a word, but obviously, even Creators have to follow procedures, including “Elfin Safety” no doubt.

  • Radu

    Errata: the article specifies that “Romanian priest…”. In fact, this incident occurred in The Republic of Moldova, which is a country neighboring Romania to the East. You can view a map of the region here.

  • stargraves

    Sickening. Bastard should face life imprisonment.

  • Arnold Lane

    If the parents were aware the child was in physical distress (face turned blue etc) why did they not intervene more assertively? Of course, we know the answer is deference to authority.
    I hope the priest receives a stiff sentance but also would like to see the parents censured for their lack of parental responsibility while witnessing the drowning of their child.

  • Pete H

    Says it all about religious people that despite the fact that the baby was turning blue, foaming at the mouth and clearly in all sorts of bother, they didn’t do anything because the priest said the ritual shouldn’t be interrupted.
    All they had to do was step in, but even their most innate instincts to protect their child were over-ridden by their reverence for the church figure and for religious ritual. Now that’s what I call brainwashing.
    Very, very sad.

  • sailor1031

    Good grief! They’ve been doing this baptism thing for two thousand years and still can’t get it right? Along with a few other things they haven’t got right recently…. Invincible incompetence I’d say.

  • Sean Reynolds

    Barriejohn, Original Sin wasn’t washed from it, in fact it died in sin water. Does that mean it swallowed the sin again? Still, at least we know it wasn’t a witch.
    Sick dead baby jokes aside, in fairness to the priest people love to scream blame at things like this when there really isn’t any in a tragic accident. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a baby dunking where the kid wasn’t screaming like it was being drowned the whole time although generally, its more of a wetting of the babies head. Tragedy yes, but I don’t think it’s one of those cases where you can point and say “See! Religion kills!”. Makes me wonder, if The Freethinker started a handing out Darwin Awards but for stupid religion based deaths what would they be called? God’s shoddy design awards? Divine Cowboy Builder awards?

  • Mark Richards

    Seems this priestie fellow runs a one-stop shop.

  • Arnold Lane

    Sean, I disagree. Babies cry all the time, for sure. But when a baby turns blue and starts foaming it’s usually an indication that something might not be right. To say the least.
    In this case the accomplices in the crime were so deluded by their belief in magic rituals and sacred places and holy men that they ignored a child in fatal distress. Religion Killed this child.
    The question people should be asking themselves is, if this can happen in God’s House during a Sacred Ritual in the hands of an Annointed Priest what does this tell us about God? Hint: either he does not exist or he is a malicious entity unworthy of praise.

  • Don

    At least with water-boarding they are supposed to stop before they kill you.

  • FedupwithR

    As has been stated above, the failure of the parents to intervene, shows the the incredible deference to a Religious “Authority”
    Maybe babies always scream but some have louder and more irritating screams than others. A priest, used to silence and contemplation, might have found the noise so exasperating that he purposefully failed to cover the child’s mouth. However, these are just my own thoughts as I have never witnessed a baptism but have heard many a baby scream.

  • Sean Reynolds

    Arnold, I simply call shenanigans on this one, Fr. Drowny McJesus should have known better, but I don’t think it was a case of him saying “Living or not, noone stops me mid-ceremony you little fucker, take your God bath.” he just went hammer and tongs at it, and thought it was just like every other baby that was awkward (think how many baptisms they do a year). I guess it seems strange that I’m giving the priest that just drowned a child the benefit of the doubt despite blue foaming babies, but I’ve seen kids that age turn colours for the slightest of inconveniences as I’m sure priests have tenfold.
    I think if this was a baby dying in a swimming pool with a parent that didn’t notice the water was too cold for it we might all seem as smug with our 20/20 hindsight but we certainly wouldn’t say “reading parenting magazines about bonding with your child kills.”. Well we might, but we’d be dicks. This smacks of shadenfreude more than constructive anti-theism to me, but it might just be because theres a dead baby in the equation instead of some brain haemmorage induced by rug-butting.
    If anything, what we’ve learned is not to take medical advice about children from people whos only hands-on experience involves either dunking or sexually abusing them.

  • Arnold Lane

    Sean, your point is well made. I think you may be at least right about the Shadenfraude here.

  • Ted

    A baby drowning during baptism is so sad in so many ways.
    In view of the fact that “hearing the word”,”embracing the word heartily” and “repenting” proceed water baptism and that baptism requires the individual to make a solemn decision. I find it hard to believe any baby would be capable of these things. I wonder what sins the baby had to repent and how well he/she knew their bible.
    False teachings of idiots. How much more misery is to be inflicted in the name of God? Long live atheism.

  • And just where was this god, whose club the infant was being inducted into, during this episode……he/she/it is supposed to be all knowing all seeing…..must have been too busy writing the child’s name in the good book to notice the drowning…some parents….some god.

  • L.Long

    Basically the ‘parents’ stood around scared witless by their make believe psychic sky-fairy and allowed the kid to die.
    They are in a holey place, with a holey man , praying and they still can’t get the psycho to save one little life, the true value of prayer.

  • Deacon Titter

    I wonder if the child will be given a good Christian burial in the same church

  • Barry Duke

    Whoops. Error corrected Radu.

  • Radu

    See, this is why I like atheists/agnostics. You make a comment, point out an error and then the error is corrected. This kind of behavior stems from having an open mind and being open to debate and criticism. Say the same thing to a fundie and you get hate mail the next day. True story.

  • barriejohn

    F… off Radu! Who do you think you are to come on this site correcting everyone else? I suppose you think you’re better than other people. That’s the trouble with you atheists…

  • Radu

    @barriejohn I was complementing this site’s owner as well as the audience, in case you didn’t get it. Or perhaps I’m not getting the sarcasm in your last comment….
    Oh, and just to set the record straight, I took it upon myself to point out the error on account that I’m Romanian, so I kind of have a clue what I’m talking about here 😉

  • rog

    On the plus side – If dying whilst being baptised doesn’t get you a free pass straight to heaven nothing else will.

  • barriejohn

    Irony, Radu, irony!

  • Sean Reynolds

    Radu, The Original Duke Barry version of this article said it was in Romania. Sure, you liberals with your communist agenda can manipulate those words and even have your own version written, but your geography is wrong, The Holy Barryble is not.
    Oh wait, he changed that, its cool.

  • gbrown

    Prison?? … Prison??????
    I can think of some fitting punishments for that priest – any and all of which would result in an ignominious demise for him! “I knew what I was doing…” – my eye!!
    It’s simply deplorable that someone do a job like that and not get shown how to do it -__-
    Then again, he could have been shown, but chose to ignore his ‘training’. Whatever the case, he’s gotten off easy.
    My condolences go out to the baby’s family