Priest suspended after rough baptism that left baby terrified

Footage showed Father Foty roughly plunging the screaming baby into the water

A priest in Russia has been suspended for a year after his rough baptism of a baby left the child terrified and apparently with scratches on his skin. 

Video footage showed Father Foty, a member of the Russian Orthodox Church, plunging the one-year-old into the baptismal font despite the objections of the child's mother, Radio Free Europe reports.

In the disturbing footage, the mother can be seen trying to take her baby back from the priest as he attempts several times to dunk the kicking and screaming infant into the water.

At one point, the priest appears to place his hand over the distressed baby's face as he tries to push his head down into the water. 

His mother, identified only as Anastasiya, can be heard saying, "Let him go, he's in pain."

The incident happened at Marienburg Intercessional Church in the city of Gatchina, around 40km south of St Petersburg, and prompted Anastasiya to file a complaint with the police. 

"The baby was screaming, trying to wriggle away. I got frightened and ran up, started to take him back," she told St Petersburg's Fontanka website. 

Anastasiya said that the baptism had left scratch marks on her baby's neck and shoulder. 

The church has since apologised over the incident and banned Father Foty, 55, for a year. 

He has denied any wrongdoing.

"It was just the mother's heightened emotions," he told Fontanka. "She turned out to be unchurched and not ready for a christening.

"According to the rules of the Orthodox Church the baby's head must be submerged three times, and that's what I did.

"He didn't swallow any water or hit the font. I've been serving for 26 years and always try to baptise like that."