Public brouhaha over botched ceremony in Orthodox parish


Interfax-Religiia, 12 August 2019


The Gatchina diocese apologized for the conduct of a priest during the baptism of a child, about which the mother complained. The hegumen has been inhibited from ministry for a year.


"In connection with an incident during the baptism of an infant, which happened on 10 August 2019 in the Marienburg church of the Protection of Gatchina, by order of his Grace Bishop of Gatchina and Luga Mitrofan, Hegumen Foty is inhibited from clerical ministry for a period of one year, without the right of wearing vestments and a cross and of bestowing clerical blessing," the report on the diocese's website says.


"Bishop Mitrofan expresses sympathy to the parents and sponsors of the baptized child and apologizes for the conduct of the cleric of the Gatchina diocese that caused offense and condemnation among believers," the diocese notes.


As was reported, on Saturday the police of the Gatchina district received an affidavit from a local resident to the effect that in the Marienburg church of the Protection in Gatchina, one of the priests treated a child roughly during baptism. In a video posted on the internet, he dips the child several time into water during the performance of the sacrament, and the mother of the infant tries unsuccessfully to take him from the hands of the clergyman. (tr. by PDS, posted 12 August 2019)



Interfax-Religiia, 12 August 2019


Representatives of the Gatchina diocese apologized in a personal meeting to the mother of an infant who was baptized by Hegumen Foty, Interfax was told on Monday by the press service of the diocese.


"A meeting was held of the secretary of the diocese, Archpriest Vladimir Glazunov, the spiritual counselor Mikhail Yurimsky, and the child's mother. They talked about what had happened. In the name of the diocese and hierarch (Bishop Mitrofan—IF), Vladimir Glazunov apologized to the mother for the incident," the news agency's source said.


The press service added that Hegumen Foty was invited to serve in the Marienburg church of the Protection of Gatchina, where the incident occurred, during the vacation of the rector of the church. Otherwise he is a staff cleric of the church in the Gatchina cemetery.


As was reported, on Saturday the police of Gatchina district received an affidavit from a local resident to the effect that in the Marienburg church of the Protection in Gatchina, one of the priests treated a child roughly during baptism. Later the Gatchina diocese reported that the hegumen had been banned from ministry for a year.


The incident of the infant's baptism went public after the posting on the web of a video in which the priest used force to dip the child several times into the water during the ritual. The infant's mother tried unsuccessfully to take him from the priest's hands. As the publication reports, after the baptism the child had bruises and abrasions. (tr. by PDS, posted 12 August 2019)



by Ilia Kazakov, 11 August 2019


Hegumen Foty pushes the screaming and squirming year-old child headfirst into the font. The distraught mother rushes alongside in fear. That's how the ritual of baptism in a Gatchina church of the Protection of the Mother of God in Marienburg appeared on 10 August, after which an affidavit appeared at the police department.


As the mother of the injured infant, Anastasia, told Fontanka, the sacrament of baptism was for an individual, it cost 3,500 rubles, and was held yesterday, 10 August. It did not go well even from the start. The priest told us that he has baptized this way for 26 years now.


"Before the sacrament, Father Foty met us at the church entrance and asked me: 'Do you know the Our Father by heart? No? Have you taken communion? Also no? Then who are you for the child? Why bring him for baptism?" Anastasia explained.


The same thing was repeated with the godfather and others accompanying Anastasia.  But despite this, the group decided to still conduct the ritual and to entrust the child to the priest, which they repeatedly regretted. The video that was on the internet is like a ritual of exorcism or the actions of fanatics; the priest pushes the resisting child roughly into the font and holds him.


"Everything he did hurt the child. He saw that he is grown and that he cannot be immersed in such a small font. It is necessary to splash on the head. But he decided to do it his way. The baby cried and pulled away. I became frightened and ran up and began grabbing. I almost caught on fire because my scarf extinguished the candles at the font," the mother described.


She said that the batiushka retorted to mind her own business. And he shared his experience: "I have had cases when children bashed their head and relieved themselves in my arms." But the witnesses did not value such professionalism and they went to the police.


"The child has scratches on his neck and shoulder. He is now all in a panic and hysterical," Anastasia describes the consequences. She showed Fontanka a photograph of the injuries, but she rejected the police suggestion of a medical expert examination—she did not want to traumatize the baby's psyche again.


On 11 August, the woman said, the diocese called her and apologized and said that the priest will be removed from service. "I asked the caller: 'what do you think? From the video, is it violence or is it a normal ritual of baptism?' and they told me: 'Violence is putting it mildly.'"


On Monday there was a conversation in the diocese with the mother participating. Foty also was invited, who sees the situation completely differently.


"And what actually happened? Nothing happened. It was not my fault," he told a Fontanka correspondent. "This is simply a mother's heightened emotion. She turns out to be an unchurched person who is not ready for baptism. According to the rules of the Orthodox Church the infant's head must be immersed three times, and I did that. The baby did not swallow water and did not strike the walls of the font. I have served for 26 years and I have always tried to baptize that way."


According to the hegumen, the child was of such an age that it is still necessary to dip him in the font, since it is "immersion" baptism that is considered genuine. And splashing a little bit on the head can be done only in the event of mortal danger. "I fulfilled my clerical duty," Foty explained. For him, such an investigation in the diocese also will be a first, although complaints have been written even earlier.


According to information of the portal Globus Metropolia, Foty's secular name is Vasily Vasilievich Necheporenko and he is 55 years old. He was ordained a deacon in 1993. He has served in the rank of hegumen since April 2007. On the website he is listed as the rector of the church of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God in the village of Bolshaia Vruda. (tr. by PDS, posted 13 August 2019)

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