The Diocese of Gatchina in the Leningrad region of Russia suspended Father Photius, a priest of the Marienburg Pokrovsky Church, from service due to the rough handling of a child during a ritual of baptism.
The video of the ceremony received a lot of attention in Russia. It shows the clergyman dipping the hysterically crying baby into the baptismal font several times. One can also see that the priest uses force in relation to the child and dips the baby under the water. The child's mother tried to stop the procedure, but the priest continued.
According to fontanka.ru, the baby had bruises and abrasions after the ritual. His mother said that her child is "scared of everything now."
The incident occurred on August 10. A message posted on the website of the Gatchina Diocese said that Father Photius was prohibited from serving for one year, without the right to wear the cassock and the cross.
The bishop of the Gatchina Diocese expressed sympathy for the parents and apologized for the behavior of the clergyman.
It was said that a female resident of Gatchina filed a complaint with police over the incident.
The priest himself told the 78.ru website that such incidents were common in priestly practice. "If the mother had thrown fewer tantrums, everything would have gone a lot better. She was a distraction. According to the rules of the Orthodox Church, the child should be immersed in the water three times completely. I was doing my priestly pastoral duty properly. The child's parents and relatives turned out to be completely unchurched people who were far from church life. I did not refuse them, but they didn't appreciate this gesture of mine," the priest said. In his opinion, the mother of the child got bored, and she had nothing to do but to "throw a tantrum."
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