How to Formally Defect from the Catholic Church

20 February 2010

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ZJ: If you've ever been baptized as a Catholic, the Catholic Church still considers you a member, even if you've stopped attending or switched to another religion (or no religion at all). The church claims to have over a billion followers worldwide, and they could be counting you as one of them, regardless of whether you're actually a practicing Catholic.

For many of us, this is unacceptable, and we most definitely do not want to be counted as part of the church. If you, too, would like the church to stop counting you as a Catholic, there is a way to officially renounce your membership: the formal act of defection.

All you have to do is send a letter to the bishop of the diocese in which you currently reside. The letter should include a declaration of your defection, a statement that you've stopped attending church and no longer consider yourself a Catholic, and a brief explanation of why you've chosen to defect. Perhaps you disagree with the church's doctrines, or disapprove of its political activities, or you're just outraged by the church's ongoing child abuse scandals.

After you've given your reasons for leaving, ask them to amend their records to indicate that you're no longer a member of the church, and request a written confirmation of this. Make sure to include your name, the date you were baptized, the parish where you were baptized, your signature and the signature of a witness.

Once everything is in order, mail it to your local bishop, and in a few weeks, you should receive a response. Now, they may offer to have a priest meet with you to talk about it, but this isn't necessary, and you can just tell them your decision is final.

And that's all there is to it! Once they acknowledge your defection, you will officially be one fewer member of the Catholic Church. It is just that easy.

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