Excommunication with the Catholic Church?

72


Discussion by: Sam1989

I was baptised, therefore I am still officially a part of the catholic church statistics. From what I have read it seems near enough impossible to actually become officially excommunicated, I put emphasis on the word 'officially' because in my own mind I am not a Catholic and if God were to exist and know my thoughts and hear my atheistic discussions he'd certainly not consider me a Catholic. Irrespective of this I feel passionately about NOT being a statistic of an institution with principles that sicken me to the core.

I think it was October 2010 where the catholic church made a change to their canon law with regard to this issue, making it even more difficult to distance yourself from it. I know I can write letters to 'my' bishop and that would be the civilised way of 'officially' recanting my catholicism but I've read stories where they never hear anything back.

Has anybody actually gone through this process? 

72 COMMENTS

  1. Has anybody actually gone through this process?

    Sounds like a pointless waste of time to me. Do you think they have some database with all the official Catholics in it and you need to remove your name or something? Once you stop going to mass and (especially) stop putting money in the collection plate you are no longer a Catholic as far as the church is concerned. Excommunication is for high profile people that the Church wants to make a statement about, people like politicians who are Catholic but take stances on abortion the RCC doesn’t like or nuns or priests who stray from Vatican dogma in public statements.

    • In reply to #1 by Red Dog:

      Has anybody actually gone through this process?

      Sounds like a pointless waste of time to me.

      Couldn’t agree more. There’s loads of ex-catholics all over. You can contribute to collection of accurate statistics by choosing how you fill in the “religion” box in your local census form, if there is one.

      There was a recent-ex-mormon here a while ago fretting over how to get off their register. This is a similar waste of time.

      Once upon a time membership of the IRA was enough to get you excommunicated from the catholic church, at least that’s what I was told at school. But I don’t suppose that’s the kind of option you’re looking for. At least, I hope it isn’t.

    • In reply to #1 by Red Dog:

      Sounds like a pointless waste of time to me.

      Definitely sounds like that to me too. Especially because as far as the RCC is now concerned, once baptized you are locked in.

      Do you think they have some database with all the official Catholics in it and you need to remove your name or something?

      That’s exactly what they have. One can apply to have ones name removed from the “database” but that’s all. Good luck with that though.

      PROPER RECORDING AND RETENTION OF SACRAMENTAL RECORDS
      (Revised 2011)

      GENERAL NORMS:

      Sacramental records contain not only Baptismal information, but also other important
      information about a person‘s canonical status in the Church (e.g., Confirmation, Matrimony,
      Ordination, Annulments, and Religious Profession). Such important information must be
      carefully preserved and kept up to date. Responsibility for recording sacramental information
      falls to the pastor of the territory ―place‖ where sacraments occur. This responsibility may be
      delegated to another trusted person, but the primary burden remains with the pastor (Canon
      535).

      Each parish is to have its own seal. Certificates concerning the canonical status of the faithful
      and all acts which have juridical significance are to be signed by the parish priest or his
      delegate and secured with the parochial seal.

      Once you stop going to mass and (especially) stop putting money in the collection plate you are no longer a Catholic as far as the church is concerned.

      Not true. The reason I know this is because of the recent discourse on an RC/Atheist website called strangenotions.com. Granted, the rank and file are at 6′s and 7′s in their understanding, no surprise there then, but the theology is quite clear when laid out.

      The motu proprio Omnium in mentem of 26 October 2009 removed from the canons in question all reference to an act of formal defection from the Catholic Church. Accordingly, “it is no longer appropriate to enter attempts at formal defection in the sacramental records since this juridic action is now abolished. “

      So as I said, good luck with any effort wasted there.

      Excommunication is for high profile people that the Church wants to make a statement about, people like politicians who are Catholic but take stances on abortion the RCC doesn’t like or nuns or priests who stray from Vatican dogma in public statements.

      Again, this is wee bit inaccurate…it’s only the high profile people that are either excommunicated or not that hit the headlines. As I recently discovered over there, one ex-Catholic turned Atheist relates the story of his mother being excomm’d for the crime of marrying a Lutheran and having to attend mass without sacrament causing her misery for over a decade. Anecdotal I know, but not hard to follow up. Excommunication means excluded from communion, not turfed out of the church.

      Res sacræ, ritus, communio, crypta, potestas,
      prædia sacra, forum, civilia jura vetantur,

      i.e. loss of the sacraments, public services and prayers of the Church, ecclesiastical burial, jurisdiction, benefices, canonical rights, and social intercourse.

      In any case, we’ve been having a well “how-do-ya-do” on this subject and other nonsense doctrine and dogma over in their house.

      I appreciate why someone would want to severe ties with this insipid pedophile ring, it’s the time wasted in doing so that would cause me the concern.

    • In reply to #1 by Red Dog:

      Has anybody actually gone through this process?

      Sounds like a pointless waste of time to me. Do you think they have some database with all the official Catholics in it and you need to remove your name or something? Once you stop going to mass and (especially) stop putting money in the collection…

      It matters specifically because the Catholic Church DOES claim that it deserves political influence due to how many members it claims to have. Allowing them to still count you helps them shore up the lie about how many people they speak for.

  2. I tried and understand why you want something official. It’s not going to happen. There was a window there for a few years whereby a “Formal Act of Defection” could be sent one’s local diocese but while now disallowed, there are questions if it ever did what the deconverted hoped for (it was a long list of things you were formally acknowledging such as waiving a Christian burial, etc.). Even if you acheived an official excommunication (rather than say a latent one [such as having an abortion]) you would still be considered a Catholic.

    I used to feel like you do, I think it’s just a normal expectation for Catholics to go through. But if you think about it, you should be able to understand why you won’t get one. If even Hitler baptism can’t be erased, well… As it happens, after a year or so my want did start to seem ridiculous to me. The most salient bit of advice I discovered (I likey came across it on this site) is not to worry about your statistic with the diocese but rather to start penning your name to organizations you identify with today and become an active participant in them. That’s how we win.

    Mike

  3. I know I can write letters to ‘my’ bishop and that would be the civilised way of ‘officially’ recanting my catholicism but I’ve read stories where they never hear anything back.

    Why don’t you flip it around? Write to the Catholic Church, but inform them that THEY are excommunicated from you and the rest of the civilised world. No right of appeal.

  4. Most “Catholics” are not. They claim 5 – 6 million member in the UK and talk to politicians etc as if they represent 10% of the population.

    The reality is that only about 885,000 people attend a weekly Catholic mass (surely a minimum requirement for membership?) or about 1.35% of the population.

    They can change the rules about getting out all they like but they can’t change the bums on seats equation.

    Incidentally, in the four weeks following Pope Benedict’s (rather lacklustre, poorly attended) visit to the UK in late 2010, attendances at Catholic masses fell in 14 out of 22 dioceses… a trend which continues.

    They are, if you will pardon the pun, on their knees.

    • In reply to #7 by Stevehill:

      Incidentally, in the four weeks following Pope Benedict’s (rather lacklustre, poorly attended) visit to the UK in late 2010, attendances at Catholic masses fell in 14 out of 22 dioceses… a trend which continues.

      I think his foot-shooting NAZI claim about atheists illustrates Catholic cognitive dissonance from a pope who was an ex-member of the Hitler Youth!

      Row after Pope’s remarks on atheism and Nazis – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11332515 In his address, the Pope spoke of “a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society”.

      He went on to urge the UK to guard against “aggressive forms of secularism”

      Regarding being excommunicated from the RCC for misconduct: It seems unlikely unless it is for some sort of rational rebellion within the church, against mad theist doctrines. Hitler was a Catholic who was never excommunicated!

    • In reply to #7 by Stevehill:

      Most “Catholics” are not. They claim 5 – 6 million member in the UK and talk to politicians etc as if they represent 10% of the population.

      The reality is that only about 885,000 people attend a weekly Catholic mass (surely a minimum requirement for membership?) or about 1.35% of the population….

      good point. i guess what i should have said before is. the organization tells lies. why waste your time? the few who do it make little difference, if everyone did it they’d still lie about their numbers

  5. I think that this is a very worthy endeavor. I have not been Catholic for about 30 years, but I’m sure that I’m reflected in their statistics. What other organization continues to count people as members long after they are gone? It sounds as if the Catholic Church still reports the number of perceived “Catholics” and not just practicing Catholics. This is a bit like false advertising and is highly misleading. I wonder if there is another source or agency that can be contacted to put pressure on the RCC to fess up to accurate statistics.

    Years ago my mother took out a Catholic affiliated life insurance policy on me. Thanks for reminding me about this. I will get rid of it by next week. If I end up dying in a plane crash (on my way to London – Yep! I’m headed to the UK in less than two weeks!! How’s the weather in London?) I don’t want a bunch of Catholic ladies showing up at my funeral praying the Rosary.

    • This is exactly my point! The real statistics wouldn’t show a 1 billion following – why should they be credited with that when it’s not true? Governments are too scared to put any kind of pressure on religious organisations…

      It’s probably raining in London, its raining where I am but I live a couple of hours train journey away :-)
      In reply to #9 by QuestioningKat:

      I think that this is a very worthy endeavor. I have not been Catholic for about 30 years, but I’m sure that I’m reflected in their statistics. What other organization continues to count people as members long after they are gone? It sounds as if the Catholic Church still reports the number of percei…

    • In reply to #9 by QuestioningKat:

      I think that this is a very worthy endeavor. I have not been Catholic for about 30 years, but I’m sure that I’m reflected in their statistics. What other organization continues to count people as members long after they are gone? It sounds as if the Catholic Church still reports the number of percei…

      What other organization continues to count people as members long after they are gone?

      I believe the term used by the Australian electoral commission is ‘Branch stacking’ and the outfit is the ALP.

  6. In reply to #10 by Archaic Torso:

    Yes I defected a few years ago, when the church was still processing defections. I also thought it a worthwhile move and I wanted a formal recognition from the church of my leaving. I had to sign a ‘declaration of defection’ in the presence of a witness, who then also had to sign, and I sent this to the bishop of the diocese in which I was baptised, along with a letter stating that I was defecting, that I understood the implications of a defection, and giving details of the parish where I was baptised and the names of my parents.

    I had no idea you could do that, and I used to be an altar boy. When I stopped believing I just stopped going to church and that was that. That and some grief (but surprisingly not that much) from my parents. I can’t for the life of me fathom why you would spend your time doing this if you no longer believe in the church. There are so many better ways to spend your time.

  7. I imagine it’s nearly impossible, as you surmise.

    As I understand it, during WWII, not even one Nazi leader was excommunicated, and you’d think those guys were generating a few red flags.

    There was one, however, if memory serves: Goebels (sic, probably) the Nazi propaganda minister, who married a Jewish lady, and was therefore excommunicated.

    As Hitchens once remarked, “one must have standards.”

    So there’s that. You could possibly meet a nice Jewish person and get married eventually. Then point it out to your bishop. It’s almost crazy enough to work (again).

    • In reply to #13 by AntithiChrist:

      I imagine it’s nearly impossible, as you surmise.

      As I understand it, during WWII, not even one Nazi leader was excommunicated, and you’d think those guys were generating a few red flags.

      There was one, however, if memory serves: Goebels (sic, probably) the Nazi propaganda minister, who married a…

      In the time it took you to write ‘sic,probably’ you could have looked up how to spell Goebbels (two b’s) and at the same time noted that the woman he married was a Protestant, not Jewish.

    • In reply to #13 by AntithiChrist:

      I imagine it’s nearly impossible, as you surmise.

      As I understand it, during WWII, not even one Nazi leader was excommunicated, and you’d think those guys were generating a few red flags.

      There was one, however, if memory serves: Goebels (sic, probably) the Nazi propaganda minister, who married a Jew…

      Maria Magdalena Goebbels (with two ‘b’s) was not Jewish. She was a good Christian girl who even went to a convent school for awhile. However, Wikipedia points out that her mother married a Jew long AFTER she was born. The couple moved to Brussels, sparing her a lot of embarrassment.

      • In reply to #61 by justinesaracen:

        “Johanna Maria Magdalena Goebbels née Behrend”

        A good Christian girl of the RC kind.

        “Ritschel [her biological father] took her [Magda] to Brussels, where she was enrolled at the Ursuline Convent in Vilvoorde. At the convent, she was remembered as “an active and intelligent little girl”

        Magda was born illegitimate, her mother later married and divorced a Jew. He died at Buchenwald concentration camp.

        The future Mrs.Goebbels, a “nice RC”, married a Jew, divorced him, had extra-marital affairs, murdered her children and committed suicide.

        Of course Goebbels himself was no angel, a serial philanderer and fornicator, all well known about by Magda because he made no secret of it and did it right under her nose, it was his intense affair with the Czech actress Lída Baarová that was to be the last straw. Magda, having her nose rubbed in it long enough, asked Hitler for a divorce…guess what, Hitler refused. He couldn’t have his poster family for the Aryan race fall from grace, so a quick word in Goebbel’s lughole along with a few threats and he soon toed the party line.

        Goebbels and Magda committed suicide after murdering their six children. I can’t find it in any place where he was excommunicated by the RCC, you have to be a nine year old rape victim of your father that has had an abortion for that grievous punishment.

        I’d laugh at the absurdity of it, if it wasn’t so sick and twisted

  8. So you want to officially resign form something that you now think is a load of “bunkum” …. why??

    Treat these people as they should be treated, with contempt… what right do they have to be owned anything from you….

    You want them to release you from your catholic ties…. they have no power to stop you, and you do not need their permission!

    Don’t lower yourself by asking, you are your own person you are as free of them now as you will ever be. Leave them behind as you get on with your life!

  9. Well, that’s one positive thing the german church tax system brings with it. You can quit the church. You just go to City Hall and declare you want to quit your church(those that are recognized as such anyway). You get an official piece of paper and the church is then supposed to strike you from their registry, which they don’t always do. So, you have to hang on to that piece of paper in case the church comes knocking, years down the line, asking about their taxes.

  10. I would have to say it’s not worth your time and effort going to the hassle of being excommunicated.
    The Catholic church is in the business of lying and deceit. Their statistics, as highly as they may regard them, mean absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things, and most people realise that. Take the Mormons for example, exactly the same situation, they posthumously declared Adolf Hitler a Mormon, just to beef up their statistics. Nobody takes these figures seriously.

    If you’re no longer a Catholic, then you should no longer consider your baptism to mean anything, it’s just a bit of water you were splashed with as a child.
    Really, it’s a bit like some childhood friends of yours saying that you’re still technically a member of the ‘No Boys Alowed’ club you joined when you were 7 years old. (I’m assuming your a girl)

  11. Seems like the RCC has stopped the official defection process but non the less the following link might be a useful source of information in the future. This site helped thousands of Irish Catholics to defect and has some good information on why the process was suspended and possible future options http://www.countmeout.ie/

  12. Hi Sam,

    I went through the official act of defection back in 2009 here in Dublin, Ireland using the method you mention above (writing a letter to my Archbishop) after reading the instructions on countmeout.ie

    After establishing my intent to defect, I then met with the Archbishop’s assistant, explained my position, and two weeks later received my baptismal cert back from my diocese, and a letter from Archbishop Martin confirming my decision.

    The fact the RCC has now changed its own canon law to stop this speaks volumes. They were obviously hemorrhaging numbers, and put a stop to it.

    All I can recommend is to write to “your” archbishop, or the diocese where you were baptized, and ask politely – but firmly – to leave the church in an official capacity, and have your baptismal cert returned, as you are no longer a practicing Catholic, and have no intention to remain within the church.

    Hope this helps, and the very best of luck.

    Tyler.

    • In reply to #19 by Tyler Durden:
      Thank you, I could most certainly try, the worst that can happen is that I’m ignored! I completely agree, the fact they stopped it just proves that it is actually important (at least to them if no one else, which in turn makes it important to me that I’m removed).

      Hi Sam,

      I went through the official act of defection back in 2009 here in Dublin, Ireland using the method you mention above (writing a letter to my Archbishop) after reading the instructions on countmeout.ie

      After establishing my intent to defect, I then met with the Archbishop’s assistant, expla…

  13. When I read posts like this and I end up reading the comments by people who just say “Why bother?” I’m often left feeling like they didn’t hear the person or have any concept as to why this may be important to them. It sort of lacks empathy to me and makes the person feel like they’re wasting their time. Not offering ideas or options is not only not helpful but can appear insulting.

    It would appear the RCC has stopped defections, ok, so how does a person not be counted? People here feel that it doesn’t matter, however the RCC is notorious for ‘getting their way’ by using their statistics and of course money. If we can at least effect one number, it that appears important to them otherwise they wouldn’t have stopped the defection process, then there should be a secular option here. This is where secular statistics can and should counter the RCCs and be used by governments to prevent religious organizations from pushing their agendas.

    We only have a census every few years, (it’s an option) there should be a way to change records to indicate, now, you are not religious. This slow census system doesn’t work in our quick turn around political climate we have or the fact that there are many people defecting from religion at a record pace. Things need to change but of course, religious groups like things the way they are, they don’t like the truth anyway.

    • In reply to #21 by Nick LaRue:

      When I read posts like this and I end up reading the comments by people who just say “Why bother?” I’m often left feeling like they didn’t hear the person or have any concept as to why this may be important to them. It sort of lacks empathy to me and makes the person feel like they’re wasting their…

      I can see how you might get that impression, but as an ex-Catholic, I do empathize. And I do think it is a waste of time. What’s the point of writing a carefully crafted letter or hunting down the right form if they are just going to throw it in the bin?

      If you are trying to jump through their hoops to get taken off the books, then you are still playing their game. It’s a mug’s game. I suggest that you play your own game, and stop giving a shit what they think. The one thing they hate more than being contradicted is being ignored.

      • In reply to #31 by Dave H:

        In reply to #21 by Nick LaRue:

        When I read posts like this and I end up reading the comments by people who just say “Why bother?” I’m often left feeling like they didn’t hear the person or have any concept as to why this may be important to them. It sort of lacks empathy to me and makes the person…

        What Dave H said. Exactly. To the OP: Stop playing their game, they don’t deserve the attention. Life – the only one you have – is too short to carry on obsessing over this nonsense, now that you’ve escaped. You have escaped, haven’t you? Or you aren’t sure, and want to set fire to a bridge so you can’t easily cross back over it? Or have you a less honorable motive: you want a job in an organisation that discriminates against catholics, or maybe you want to marry into the House of Windsor, and you think you’d get some advantage in having an official ex-catholic certificate?

        • In reply to #48 by OHooligan:

          …or maybe you want to marry into the House of Windsor, and you think you’d get some advantage in having an official ex-catholic certificate?

          Ah ha, but that is all changing with new legislation proposals.

          “For the first time in more than 300 years, legislation would allow British monarchs to marry Catholics. The sections of the 1701 Act of Settlement that insist on the sovereign being a member of the Church of England will, however, remain in place.”

    • Thank you, it is extremely important to me. I think those who are making insensitive comments fail to realise my point which you make well… If all the ‘technical’ Catholics were no longer counted then there would be a massive fall in their ‘membership’, thus weakening it and making it a less revered institution! Religion gets its way because of their allegedly huge followings! We can only change it one step at a time, one person at a time.
      In reply to #21 by Nick LaRue:

      When I read posts like this and I end up reading the comments by people who just say “Why bother?” I’m often left feeling like they didn’t hear the person or have any concept as to why this may be important to them. It sort of lacks empathy to me and makes the person feel like they’re wasting their…

      • In reply to #33 by Sam1989:

        If all the ‘technical’ Catholics were no longer counted then there would be a massive fall in their ‘membership’, thus weakening it and making it a less revered institution!

        I don’t agree. No one with any sense would take the Catholic church’s numbers about their membership and treat it at face value. When researchers or even reporters talk about the “number of Catholics” they don’t go to the vatican web site and see what the current number is. They use polling information from companies like Gallup.

        As I said in my initial comment this all seems like such a waste of time. If you want to do something to combat Catholicism that is great. Go for it! There are countless organizations you could join and get politically active in to take on the church’s stand on contraception, their lack of a proper response to pedophilia, their treatment of women within the church, etc. That’s all I’m saying is that it seems to me there are many ways you could spend your time that would be better than going through some formal process to leave the church.

        • Makes perfect sense and I guess I’d never know anyway whether or not I’d been removed. I do think the statistics count for something otherwise they wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of changing the law. I agree that there are far more meaningful ways to protest against the immorality of religion and I will certainly be looking into them. I just figured if it was possible to do I’d do it.
          In reply to #37 by Red Dog:

          In reply to #33 by Sam1989:

          If all the ‘technical’ Catholics were no longer counted then there would be a massive fall in their ‘membership’, thus weakening it and making it a less revered institution!

          I don’t agree. No one with any sense would take the Catholic church’s numbers about their membe…

        • In reply to #37 by Red Dog:

          I don’t agree. No one with any sense would take the Catholic church’s numbers about their membership …

          You can’t limit your argument to only talking about people with sense when we’re talking about the political damage caused by the claim. We’re talking about opportunistic politicians with an agenda here, not people with sense. And if you want to talk about an imaginary world where only sensible people get to make decisions, that’s fine, but stop trying to give the false impression that you’re talking about Earth when you do so. ESPECIALLY when your reason for doing so is to be able to throw false accusations of bigotry.

          It doesn’t matter whether or not the church is telling the truth when it claims its membership – it matters if such claims give them influence, and they DO no matter how much you pretend otherwise.

          • In reply to #49 by Steven Mading:

            You can’t limit your argument to only talking about people with sense when we’re talking about the political damage caused by the claim. We’re talking about opportunistic politicians with an agenda here, not people with sense.

            I agree that there are plenty of opportunistic politicians and otherwise out there. But I can’t see the sense in starting to govern our behavior by what they will say. They are crazy and they say crazy things, if we start basing our actions on that we end up wasting time on all sorts of things that don’t matter.

            And if you want to talk about an imaginary world where only sensible people get to make decisions, that’s fine, but stop trying to give the false impression that you’re talking about Earth when you do so. ESPECIALLY when your reason for doing so is to be able to throw false accusations of bigotry.

            I don’t understand what you meant by that. I don’t recall calling anyone a bigot on this thread and I don’t want to talk about any imaginary world, my claim is that in this real world there are much better ways to combat the Catholic church then spending a lot of time letting them know you are no longer a Catholic.

            It doesn’t matter whether or not the church is telling the truth when it claims its membership – it matters if such claims give them influence, and they DO no matter how much you pretend otherwise.

            I don’t really see how it matters all that much but even if it does why in the world would you think the Vatican is going to be any more truthful about these records because someone goes through their ritual to leave? Do you trust the RCC to behave honorably and turthfully? If anything i would bet that if they do document all the trouble the OP went through to make sure they knew he was leaving they do so in a way to make it look like he really wasn’t sure he wanted to leave and he kept the door open to coming back.

      • In reply to #33 by Sam1989:

        Thank you, it is extremely important to me. I think those who are making insensitive comments fail to realise my point which you make well… If all the ‘technical’ Catholics were no longer counted then there would be a massive fall in their ‘membership’, thus weakening it and making it a less rever…

        I highly agree and I’m glad that you brought this up. I think many of the comments are also overlooking the importance of some people needing to have closure on a particular phase of their life. Some might find it to be one way to put a negative past behind and move on. Imagine if two people were unable to divorce and were considered legally married for the rest of their lives. They would be allowed to marry again, but still they were stuck with a piece of paper that said they were also married to their ex.To be able to tie up all the loose ends can be freeing to some. Ritual has a valid purpose to many.

  14. Had to scan quick to check Tyler had responded! remember he went to the trouble

    for me, i’m too lazy. I almost invite the arguments from a catholic parent that i am one because i was baptized, end of. therefore it confirms my view that the term is simply a prejudicial label used to identify an in-group and has nothing to do with belief. so whenever I hear “catholics believe…” I can counter with, actually no, catholics are just people who’s parents got a certificate when they were babies

    catholics don’t actually believe anything. please use this phrase whenever possible

    it’s just a system, there are many ways you can identify a jew for example, by the way they dress, the language they speak or, in early 40s europe, by the yellow star sown onto the clothes of prisoners. no amount of pleading you’re not jewish would work with a camp guard, equally no amount of pleading you’re not a catholic to someone who has everything to lose by accepting.

    catholic is just a word other people use to describe you

    • Haha I will be sure to do that whenever I’m next in any kind of debate about religion! Actually I think you’ll find I’m a Catholic and I say that women and homosexuals are equal beings :-) They shouldn’t want to have any ‘Catholics’ in their congregation who think like that!

      In reply to #22 by SaganTheCat:

      Had to scan quick to check Tyler had responded! remember he went to the trouble

      for me, i’m too lazy. I almost invite the arguments from a catholic parent that i am one because i was baptized, end of. therefore it confirms my view that the term is simply a prejudicial label used to identify an in-g…

  15. I’m surprised really that so many contributors here would consider leaving the church officially to be a total waste of time. If you feel disapproval/unease/contempt for the church (or indeed any organisation), would you not want to make clear your rejection of them, have them acknowledge it, and leave no doubt about your ‘membership’ having come to an end?

    • In reply to #24 by Archaic Torso:

      I’m surprised really that so many contributors here would consider leaving the church officially to be a total waste of time. If you feel disapproval/unease/contempt for the church (or indeed any organisation), would you not want to make clear your rejection of them, have them acknowledge it, and le…

      Or, engage in a class action suit against the RCC on the grounds of [insert legal terminology here].

  16. I’m surprised really that so many contributors here would consider leaving the church officially to be a total waste of time. If you feel disapproval/unease/contempt for the church (or indeed any organisation), would you not want to make clear your rejection of them, have them acknowledge it, and leave no doubt about your ‘membership’ having come to an end?

    Well to start I reject the notion that you automatically must feel contempt for the RCC or any other church after you leave it. I agree that’s a natural reaction. Its something humans do, we rationalize our decisions so that for something that requires a strong emotional commitment like a religion if we go from theist to atheist its our natural inclination to not just reject the ideas but to have an emotional reaction and suddenly have contempt for the group we used to feel a part of. They’ve gone from our in-group to the out-group so its natural to have emotions about it. And if you feel an overwhelming need to vent those emotions OK.

    I try not to have contempt for the RCC and for Catholics in general. (Note I do have contempt for plenty of individual Catholics who are hypocrites or do immoral things and call it good like Mother Theresa did) Having contempt for all Catholics is bigotry. You can dress it up and make your own rationalizations about how its OK to be bigoted to people who are delusional if you want but its still bigotry. You are condemning all people in a group not because of what they do but because of what they believe.

  17. “I’m surprised really that so many contributors here would consider leaving the church officially to be a total waste of time. If you feel disapproval/unease/contempt for the church (or indeed any organisation), would you not want to make clear your rejection of them, have them acknowledge it, and leave no doubt about your ‘membership’ having come to an end?”

    Indeed, upon leaving such an institution as an oppressive and delusional faith group, it’s only natural to feel contempt for it, and to want to make a public rejection of it. This does not however mean that indulging in these emotions is healthy or a good use of your time and effort. It is a futile endevour and will ultimately lead you into getting more frustrated at the church and its perceived ownership of you. It is better just to let go and distance yourself from it.

    As for their statistics, they will go to any lengths to keep their numbers appearing as high as they can. Removing your own name from their books will do little to effect their statistics, and in fighting to do so you give their statistics a sense of legitimacy, if it matters to you enough to fight for it these statistics must mean something. No, the best course of action is for apostates to just leave without a word, it will become increasingly apparent that the Catholic Churches statistics are incorrect and they will become meaningless.

  18. The way I look at it, the only members of the RCC are those (like that lying thieving bastard Blair) who join it as an adult. All others are victims of forced conscription by the Vatican mafia.

    • In reply to #29 by SomersetJohn:

      The way I look at it, the only members of the RCC are those (like that lying thieving bastard Blair) who join it as an adult. All others are victims of forced conscription by the Vatican mafia.

      Exactly.

      It also makes a mockery of the Vatican’s claims to 1.2 billion members.

      As for cancelling one’s membership, it’s worse than Hotel California.

  19. I officially resigned from the Mormon church a few years ago (nearly two decades after I had really stopped being a member) and I did quite a bit of research at the time. I’m sure most of the specifics will be different, but one big lesson I learned may apply to you, or give you a shift in perspective which – in my case at least – was very comforting.

    Many instructional sites I read emphasized that one should not play along with the church’s stated procedures for official removal from the roles. For Mormons, this can involve church courts and lengthy interview procedures, all of which are designed with the idea that the person in question is facing “church discipline,” and that excommunication would be punitive, and is therefore a last resort. In effect these procedures would often be used to try to “help” the apostate change their mind. I came to reaalize that going through all that is merely a way of lending credence to the organization and tacitly acknowledging their authority to decide whether or not I am a member of their church. I claim that right exclusively, and utterly reject the authority of any organization to “claim” me without my ongoing consent.

    Even the term excommunication implies that it is the churches decision to expell you. I did NOT want an excommunication, I left of my own volition, thank you very much.

    In the US, the constitution explicitly protects “freedom of assembly” which is held to include the right to decide which organizations one does or does not belong to. Legal precedent has established that all one has to do to legally sever ties with an organization is to notify an official representative of that group. Period. That’s it. You’re done. Any other “internal procedures” are strictly extra-legal, and have no bearing outside of the organization itself. A person leaving the group is under no obligation to participate. It is recommended by most experts I consulted to put your notice in writing and to obtain some record of delivery such as through postal delivery confirmation. My letter also specifically stated that I did not acknowledge any church court or authority and I desired no further contact from the church other than a simple acknowledgement that my letter had been recieved. After such a letter, any additional contact from the group could be considered harassment, and actionable.

    Since I am in the US, and so is the LDS world headquarters, my case was simple, and I only had to consider US law. Not sure where you are, but I assume that the claims of sovereignty by the vatican create more legal wrinkles. I haven’t the expertise to advise you there. Sorry.

    Whether of not the church continues to “claim” me in their numbers, I have come to feel that caring about their claim only lends them authority which they do not deserve. My action in severing ties is far more important than any of their subsequent actions. If that line of thinking is unsatisfying and you still seek ways to counter such unjust claims, I would recommend being vocal and public about the false nature of the church’s claims to membership numbers. Take every opportunity to point out how your case discredits them. Seeking acknowledgement from the church of your separation only plays into their hands.

  20. For those being a little flippent, I made it perfectly clear that I know I am not a Catholic. Clearly being counted as one doesn’t affect my thoughts regarding God or how I live my life.

    What I perhaps should have really emphasised is that the Catholic church has so much power through it’s claim of 1 billion followers world wide, if all those ‘Atheist’ Catholics were no longer counted then it would be the start of a shrinking power base for them. Some may disagree but the very fact they made a change to their laws about this to make it as difficult as possible proves that they want to keep every person they can. If it made no difference then why would they bother changing the law?

    Of course on every census form I will go on to fill in I will state I have no religion, it would be extremely interesting to compare census statistics regarding religion and records kept by all religious institutions. I bet there would be massive differences!

    Yes it is also very true that the only true Catholics are the adults who make a conscious decision to join the Catholic church, rather than the baptised babies who go on to be brain washed children.

    It seems from the replies that it was once possible and that people on here did it before it became so hard. Unless I become high profile and do something controversial in the eyes of the Catholic church then my chances seem rather slim…

    • In reply to #34 by Sam1989:

      it would be extremely interesting to compare census statistics regarding religion and records kept by all religious institutions. I bet there would be massive differences!

      Ah, now I see your point. But rather than waste effort on getting recognition of your own individual withdrawal, would it not be more productive to use that energy to identify and highlight the discrepancy between census data and the bogus claims of the church?

      That way you could help reduce their head-count by a whole lot more than one. Just a thought. Good luck anyway with whatever you decide to do, and apologies for questioning your motives.

  21. I’m one of the lucky ones, – I was never baptised nor brought up in a religious household. God has always been a fictional character for me. However my father was brought up as a Catholic. Now Sam 1989 will perhaps think my contribution off topic, and I apologise in advance, but I won’t take much of her time. My father was about 17 when he and his mother went to see the priest for some reason. On entering the room the priest demanded to know what book my father was reading, as he was carrying it. The book was The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas, an author then forbidden by the RCC’s Index. On seeing this the priest threw the book across the room and said words to the effect “You’re not to read such stuff, DArcy“. My father who was no shrinking violet, went and retrieved his book and stormed out of the room saying: “No bloody priest is going to tell me what I can read“. His mother told him he was not to talk to the priest that way, and my father’s response was he would NOT be talking to any more priests !

    A de facto exit from the RCC. They probably still have his name on the records, but as he died some years ago, it won’t do them much good ! How many of the 1.2 billion are dead? Some researcher will probably die in the process of discovering the answer, but quite a lot, I suspect ! It reminds of that novel by Gogol, Dead Souls !

    I usually try to stick to the point, so apologies this time !

    • That’s a brilliant story! Some priests really are just complete fascists… The smarter ones take a more liberal approach to make Catholicism seem more appealing.
      In reply to #39 by Mr DArcy:

      I’m one of the lucky ones, – I was never baptised nor brought up in a religious household. God has always been a fictional character for me. However my father was brought up as a Catholic. Now Sam 1989 will perhaps think my contribution off topic, and I apologise in advance, but I won’t take much of…

  22. Does divorce still do it? I’ve family that are quite affected by their excommunication. At funerals they sit with the likes of me in the Virtuous Pagans section. Abortion earns a boot, according to high profile instances where raped children are excommunicated.

    I suppose you could always dance with a goat while saying the Lord’s Prayer backwards… Nema!

  23. Questioning Kat:

    • Yep! I’m headed to the UK in less than two weeks!! How’s the weather in London?) I don’t want a bunch of Catholic ladies showing up at my funeral praying the Rosary

    I type this in London on a fine Thursday evening 7.30 at night, back door wide open, a nice temperature, about 70F, 21C,cloudy but pleasant enough. What it will be like when Questioning Kat arrives, I have no idea, but I suspect not too bad. Just be ready for rain ! And please don’t worry about your funeral, – you won’t know anything about it ! Unless you are like me that is, – I have promised to come back and haunt any holy person who comes within 100 yards of my funeral !

  24. It seems a little ironic that so many contributors take the ‘waste of time’ attitude. If you guys are so concerned with not wasting time, consider that making unhelpful and dismissive comments on Sam’s question is perhaps a less than fruitful use of your own time.

    • In reply to #44 by Archaic Torso:

      It seems a little ironic that so many contributors take the ‘waste of time’ attitude. If you guys are so concerned with not wasting time, consider that making unhelpful and dismissive comments on Sam’s question is perhaps a less than fruitful use of your own time.

      It is a waste of time if one doesn’t bother to take the time to explain why it is a waste of time.

      Analogy: If I was intent on travelling across town to visit a shop for a specific item and was informed it was a waste of time because the particular item was out of stock or no longer available, I’d be more than delighted with that person for telling me so.

      If you read Sam’s article, you’d see that it is a request for advice at the end of the day. We are all entitled to advance our advice based on our knowledge, or lack thereof, as the case maybe, and Sam is entitled to take up that advice as offered.

      I was a member of this forum when Tyler Durden had been going through the process he explains in his comment when the option was available, now unfortunately it is not. Is it unreasonable to state that even though we can appreciate Sam’s reasons for wanting out, as far as the church goes, there is no official out.

      Those that believe that excommunication is the same as being kicked out of the faith are misguided in their understanding of the RCC rules and regulations. It is only “unhelpful and dismissive” if taking the ‘waste of time’ attitude is being made in a flippant and condescending manner without rhyme or reason for making the comment, which, having had another scope, there isn’t many and Sam has already made her position clear on that in comment 34.

      Seraphor has made the position as clear as anyone here. For every one person with an education walking away from the insipid institution the RCCC are adding a thousand ignorant Africans to the “massaged” figures.

      So, all that said, where is the irony in suggesting to the lass that she is likely wasting her time in accordance with how the RCC is currently operating it’s ridiculous position?

      Formal act of defection from the Catholic Church

      The motu proprio Omnium in mentem of 26 October 2009 removed from the canons in question all reference to an act of formal defection from the Catholic Church. Accordingly, “it is no longer appropriate to enter attempts at formal defection in the sacramental records since this juridic action is now abolished. “

      The whole thing is a bloody mess if ya ask me, but the important aspect in the position held by Sam is the word “officially” or as the RCC likes to put it, “formal” defection…the word excommunication just confuses the issue further as it doesn’t mean out of the faith.

  25. Sam: “Some may disagree but the very fact they made a change to their laws about this to make it as difficult as possible proves that they want to keep every person they can. If it made no difference then why would they bother changing the law?”

    For the record I am not being flippant, and I am not trying to ridicule you.

    They changed their “laws” (if you can call it that) because they WANT it to matter. They want you to value their records as much as you appear to do so.
    Their records are a flat out lie, their ‘laws’ are powerless and meaningless. Their records will never be an accurate reflection of the true number of Catholics no matter how many apostates get their names removed.
    By fighting to get your name removed, you are playing their game, you are giving their “statistics” meaning. You are making their figures mean something by saying it has meaning to you. But it only has meaning to you because they want it to have meaning to you.
    The Catholic church does not want to be ignored, and that is exactly what we need to do to strip them of their power.

    Can you not see, that the best way to discredit them and undermine their fake statistics, is to stop playing the game and let them dig themselves into a meaningless hole?
    It is becoming increasingly apparent to lay people that this is the way the Catholic church functions. Ignore them, their records will continue to rise far beyong the true figures, which will in time be exposed by more accurate polls and cencuses. By pandering to their false sense of legitimacy you are giving them too much credit and prolonging their demise into absurdity.

    As I said before, it’s natural to want to publicly reject them, to want your apostatism officially recognised. It may seem like a worthy cause now, but in years to come you will not give a damn what they have written in their fake book of records and you’ll regret that you spent so much time and energy pandering to them, playing their game, doing exactly what they want. It is not healthy to indulge in these emotions, you will become increasingly frustrated and you will become ever more resentful of the church, and you will feel hopeless as you keep getting knocked back or ignored.

    If you really want your name removed, then the Catholic church has won.

    • In reply to #52 by Seraphor:

      They changed their “laws” (if you can call it that) because they WANT it to matter. They want you to value their records as much as you appear to do so. Their records are a flat out lie, their ‘laws’ are powerless and meaningless. Their records will never be an accurate reflection of the true number of Catholics no matter how many apostates get their names removed. By fighting to get your name removed, you are playing their game, you are giving their “statistics” meaning. You are making their figures mean something by saying it has meaning to you. But it only has meaning to you because they want it to have meaning to you. The Catholic church does not want to be ignored, and that is exactly what we need to do to strip them of their power.

      You state your point very well, I didn’t really think about it in that way. Whilst there is no simple way to leave many religions there are not likely to be honest or trustworthy statistics, and their power base will continue to be based on lies… with that in mind yes I suppose it essentially is a pointless endeavour. What’s the saying? Ignorance is bliss :-)

  26. I would like to say that I posted my previous comments somehwat in haste as I was under some time constraints, and in hindsight I would have liked to have worded my responses differently with some more tact. I apologise if I came off condescending or if I appeared to be pressuring you to change your mind. It is your mind to change as you see fit and I merely wished to explain you the opposing point of view.

    I’d like to add, with my point that by wanting your name removed you have played into their hands, I did not mean to imply that you have been naive or that you have been played by the church. In a way we all have been played by the church, but it’s not your fault that you feel this way about having you name on record. Your experience with the church has likely been a formative factor in the way in which you view the power of the churches records, and it can take a while, and a chance to step away from the situation, to see it from another point of view.

    If you’re worried about church using their figures for political gains then wanting your name struck from their records would be a logical and completely justifiable first step, however given the clear futility you now know this to be, there are better uses of your efforts. By fighting to get your name removed, you are in fact contradicting efforts to expose their records as the fabrication they are.

    A much better way to undermine their false statistics is to raise awareness of their falsity, We could chip away at their arsenal one ethereal bullet each at a time, each time showing other people that we are in fact worried about their weaponry, or we can contribute to the cause of exposing their main weapon as the complete and utter bluff it is. The former, ableit personally satisfying in the short term, is merely holding back the sea. the latter is moving to higher ground away from the threat of the advancing tide entirely.

  27. I’ve never gone through the process, though I’ve considered it.

    But, since ‘leaving’ the church (age 15ish) I’ve moved home twice and changed my name (by getting married in a registry office).

    They don’t know where I am, they don’t know who I am. I think I’m probably excommunicated – MrCM is a divorcé.

    But do I really want to give them a chance to contact me?

    Good luck with your quest Sam, whatever you decide to do.

  28. Personally, I am born again, free of the God Delusion. But, I don’t think getting excommunicated matters either way. Besides, according to the Pope, if you’re a good person, you still go to heaven when you die. So, if there is a god, you’re covered.

    Your time would be better spent enlightening people to the beauty of nature, science and reason.

    • In reply to #57 by jeffutz:

      Personally, I am born again, free of the God Delusion.

      I shuddered at the first part of that sentence. I’ve had far too much of “born agains”. But then I read the rest of it, and calmed down. But go easy on the “born again” tag, please. Some of us have a gag reflex.

  29. I completely understand your goal in getting an excommunication from the RCC. You want the statistics they quote of their numbers of members to better reflect the reality. But as I’m reading many of the comments, I’m also understanding some points that were made in regards to RCC not really adjusting their numbers even if they were to grant your request. Even if tens of thousands of us would follow your lead and do the same, we ultimately would be trusting the RCC to adjust their own numbers, which would be unlikely since there is no law that would enforce them to do so. 
     Perhaps a better way to achieve your goal of stripping them of their unrealistic statistics would be to have our own database of all atheists that have renounced (I think renounce is a much better term than excommunicated) their religion. That way whenever a religious institution quotes their numbers of followers, we can wave our own stats back at them.
    Ideally having accurate statistics on the number of Atheists in the entire world would be grand (I’d really love to shut a few family members up whenever they puke out the current statistics in my face ). But realistically it is too ambitious and most likely is an unattainable goal. 
    That said… do what you need to do, no one else can dictate that for you.

  30. They can’t afford tto lose you any more than the Mormons can afford to lose Kiwichick.

    The church is in the business of saving souls (Humanae vitae) and they don’t really care what condition they’re in or the child sex abuse thing would never have started.

    Just make sure they can’t burn you and that you’re not in harm’s way if the Catholic church gets defined as a cult and the tax office burns them for back taxes and rates on all their prime real estate!

  31. Thank you everyone for your comments, even the less positive ones because they did make me question my own motives for seeking so badly to be officially detached from the church. The church is essentially a false construct, based entirely on lies and superstition, the power is all imagined by the hierarchies and their brain washed congregations and they are the ones that give it the meaning and authority it has in the world. This is why I felt altering statistics would help in some way to rid the church of its power, if the congregation that gives it power shrinks then the power would shrink with it. I am still of this conviction however I guess in reality as there are so many ‘technical’ Catholics who don’t have anything to do with Catholic values in their lives the congregation has already been shrinking for quite some time and it will continue to do so (albeit slowly).

    If it were an easy/easier process I’d say yes it would be most definitely worth it but as a few people pointed out it is really only going to serve in creating an illusion of importance for the church. If enough people eventually ignore it then the hierarchies will have nobody to preach to.

    From this discussion I’ve concluded the two major issues with regard to this topic are:

    1. Freedom of choice for a child, as with other things that are bad for you such as cigarettes and alcohol there should be an age of consent. An age where a person is rational enough and knows enough about all religions and the world to make an informed decision about joining a particular religion. Similarly I feel faith schools should not exist, teaching Religious Education is different and essential in my view to really expose the lunacy of all faiths. I went to a Catholic primary school and I do have some unpleasant memories from it, above all else I was far too young to really understand most of what was being preached at me.

    2. Governments should not shirk away from questioning religion, what they preach and what they practice. If religious institutions are really forces for good and really are morally superior then surely there would be no issue in complete transparency. Amongst other things I think we’d have another scandal like the MP expenses one!

    That was my first post on here as I’m quite new, glad it started a discussion at least and didn’t get an awkward silence :-) if I ever pursue this properly/have any success I will update this discussion!

    • In reply to #65 by Sam1989:

      If it is any consolation to you Sam, the RCC is already starting to implode regardless of the massaged statistical data.

      I read an interesting article today on irishcentral.com, here’s an extract….

      The ACP[Association of Catholic Priests] report has been published after the first of a series of nationwide meetings with priest councils.

      It says bishops believe that evangelisation and re-education is needed but the ACP again warned against relying on ageing priests to renew the Church.

      ACP founder Fr Tony Flannery has told the paper that without urgent action, Ireland could be without priests within 20 years.

      He said: “The age, lack of energy, tiredness of priests was very obvious. Expecting these men to bring about any real change was clearly not living in the real world. Keeping the show on the road for another few years is the most that can be expected from most of them.

      “The bishops don’t seem to grasp the urgent need to tackle falling vocations which could see most Irish parishes without a Catholic priest within 20 years.

      Read more: http://www.irishcentral.com/news/Bishops-believe-Ireland-has-become-a-nation-of-pagans-after-Celtic-Tiger-era-212730281.html#ixzz2XA6v3xcA

  32. I personally don’t see the problem even if in principle I agree with you. I was born and baptised in Italy, the latter more because of tradition than because I come from a family of believers. I have been living in the UK for the last 8 years and recently filled up the census form. On that form I am an atheist and that’s what matters to me. If in a church in Italy there is a piece of paper saying that I’m a Catholic it does not affect my life at all.

  33. It doesn’t mater what the church thinks. Just stop attending or never go back. It is impossible to be officially excommunicated. I say this because Hitler, the worst abomination of all time likely, died in good standing with the church (He was a Roman Catholic). I understand why Pope Pius XII didn’t do it when Hitler was still alive. He was concerned about nazi retaliation against the church, many of which were in Nazi controlled territories, but it has been almost 70 years and he hasn’t been excommunicated. You’d think one of the succeeding popes would have done this as a gesture to the millions of Jews who were slaughtered by that racist nazi.

  34. I completely understand what others are saying about it not mattering, and I do agree with them. However, as a simple matter of principle, the Catholic Church should not be so difficult to “officially” leave.

  35. Sam, you probably got automatic excommunication when you left the Catholic Church. But if you’re hoping the bishop of your diocese will excommunicate you officially, he probably won’t do that when he knows you’re no longer Catholic.

    Here are some ways Catholics can do to get automatic excommunication: be a “pro-choice” politician, get an abortion, help a woman get one, become a heretic, vote for “pro-choice” politicians because they’re “pro-choice,”

    Strictly, whatever a Catholic may do to get excommunicated, only Catholics are members of the Catholic Church. In his encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi, Pius XII tells us what requirements anyone needs to meet to be a Catholic. He needs to have the mark that baptism puts on the soul, to practice Catholicism, to be willing to obey the pope and the Church’s other hierarchs and not to be under full excommunication. Full excommunication removes someone from the Church, and you’ve already removed yourself from it.

    I’m very sorry you’ve gone.

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