The Latest on my lettter of defection from the Catholic Church

If you ask a gay person to identify the moment they first realized that they were gay, they will often say something like: “On some level I’ve always known.” I feel the same way about my lack of religious
belief. I have known that I did not believe in God since I was very
young. I just had no idea that there was such a thing as people who
don’t believe in God.


I was baptized at St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Catholic church in Lomita, California in January of 1978. I was dragged reluctantly to church every Sunday with my mother until I left for college. I am guilty
of starting more than a few arguments over the years with her when I
would question the existence of God. But since it’s hard to make an
atheist argument credible when you’re in the 4th grade, I never really
got anywhere with her. I think she assumed that atheism was some phase
that I was going through and that I would eventually come out on the
other side as a believer. No such luck.

Ironically, I attended a Jesuit college where I received an excellent education and never seemed to be bothered by the fact that I was surrounded by Catholics. I even sang in the church choir, not because I
liked church, but because it was the only place where they would let anyone
sing. I was studying classical singing at the time and needed to
practice performing before an audience. After college, I explored
paganism a bit until I realized that adopting another religion was just
exchanging one set of fairy tales and parables for another. So I let it
all go and admitted to myself that I did not believe in God. However, it
took me until I was about 27 before I started admitting it to anyone
else.


I am now 32 years old and after the latest round of news about the Catholic sex abuse scandals I decided that I am done with this church. I am so ashamed that my name still appears in their baptism records; that
they can officially count me as a member. In order to avoid being in
any way associated with them, I decided to take action. I discovered a
section of the Catholic Canon Law that allows for formal defection from
the Catholic church. All you have to do is write a letter listing your
reasons for leaving, state that you are of sound mind and have not been
coerced into defection, have a witness sign it and submit it to the
bishop of the archdiocese where you were baptized. You then receive a
response telling you that they have put a notation in the records that
you have defected and you will no longer be officially considered a
Catholic. Simple, right?


Enter his haughtiness, Pope Benedict XVI–or “Ratzass”, as my husband calls him. In December of 2009 the Pope issued a decree that revised the Code of Canon Law and eliminated the provision that allowed
for defection.
This was explained in a letter sent to me in
response to my defection letter dated June 1, 2010 and signed by Rev.
Thomas C. Anslow, Vicar for Canonical Services for the Archdiocese of
Los Angeles.


So what do I do now? How do I fight back? Is it now impossible to officially and completely disassociate myself with an institution that has “conspired to commit countless felonies, engaged in astonishing
displays of bigotry, and disregarded the dignity and welfare of its
parishioners more times then can be counted”? (This is the language I
used in my letter of defection).

These are precisely the questions that I will try to answer. I will not quit until I have officially “escaped” from the Catholic church. Welcome to what I am sure will be an interesting and possibly wild ride.
If you are a baptized Catholic who shares my feelings about the church,
I hope you will join me in my great escape. But I welcome anyone and
everyone who wants to be a witness to this journey: Atheists, Agnostics,
Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Pagans, Buddhists…


Memo to Vatican City: It’s on.



Read my new blog for more follow up: http://escapefromcatholicism.wordpress.com/2010/06/10/the-great-esc...

Also "Like" my Escape from Catholicism Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=lf#!/pages/Escape-from-Catholicism/123697587666449?ref=sgm

I am so going to fight this! Comment on the blog--all comments positive and negative will be approved, that's my policy. Tell everyone you know about it. Spread the word on what the Church has done.

Views: 14

Comment by Galen on June 10, 2010 at 12:53pm
I'm not surprised by this. They want to keep their official numbers from dropping like a steel beam in a whirlpool! My catholic mother-in-law explained to me once before, however, that this has always been the official dogma of the church. Once you're baptized a Catholic, you're ALWAYS a Catholic, no matter what YOU think you are. I found that position incredibly arrogant of the church, but are we surprised by it? Nope.
Comment by Therese Lee on June 10, 2010 at 1:47pm
Yeah I know. But the fact that the change to this specific portion of the Canon Law was so recent, just a few months ago, I think is telling. I have located the Apostolic Letters on the Vatican website that discuss the change. I am researching the matter for loopholes.
Comment by Apple on June 10, 2010 at 2:50pm
Just support, fund or somehow help an abortion take place and then write to them about it. Hopefully they will excommunicate you like they did to that nun.
Comment by Therese Lee on June 10, 2010 at 3:08pm
I thought of that, but excommunication just means that you cannot take part in the sacraments. You are still in the parish's baptism records and are still considered a Catholic.
Comment by Christopher McGuire on June 10, 2010 at 10:43pm
I think you should attempt to set up a protest of some sort. I don't know how many atheists are nearby, but if you start up something on facebook and give it time to snowball a little bit, you might be able to cause quite a stir. I think it would be pretty hard for your church to deny your defection with a quarter-million dollars worth of the media's camera equipment in their faces. You could even possibly get some of the religious masses on your side, if you can convince them that it brings down the good name of their church when it has an atheist in it's books as a member. If you play your cards right, you could do more than just defect from the church, you could start a REVOLUTION!!! lol ;)
Comment by James on June 10, 2010 at 11:31pm
Dang, I must have gotten in just before this all took effect! I defected after December, but was still informed that the note was still made on my record... I would fight this for sure. Either look for a loophole or go for excommunication. I would think that if you bash then heavily enough or claim to have changed religions, that they may 'kick you out'. Best of luck to you on your quest for defection.
Comment by Therese Lee on June 11, 2010 at 8:48am
"If you play your cards right, you could do more than just defect from the church, you could start a REVOLUTION!!! lol"

That is precisely my plan.
Comment by James on June 11, 2010 at 8:50am
I just had a thought... Does the church need to follow the laws and respect the rights of each country they're in. IE: USA wing of the RCC needs to follow US law. If so, wouldn't the inability to defect from the church be in violation of the right to freedom of religion? If you can't formally leave the RCC (because they say so), then that freedom is at the very least reduced in principle.

You will never get them to remove your name from the baptismal records, simply because you can't undo the past. But if you can get them to note your record as defected, then it means the equivalent of no longer belonging to the church.

Good luck!
Comment by Therese Lee on June 11, 2010 at 9:14am
Thought of that, but to sue under the 1st Amendment you have to have some sort of government action. No government action here. There are ways around that, but I don't think I could use any of those ways in this situation. I am still researching.
Comment by James on June 12, 2010 at 1:20am
Yeah, suing them would be rather extreme. But another letter pointing out that fact might just get you what you want. Seems worth a shot.

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