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April 19, 2006

Comments

Laura

"Lots of people left the Church by what appeared at the time to be a formal act (e.g., getting baptized in the Mormon church) and got married without observing Catholic form and then they came to their senses and came back to the Church and some of them were told, "Oh, you don't need to get a convalidation. You had formally defected.""

Are you sure about this? I was under the impression that even people who had never been Catholic would need to have a convalidation upon entrance into the Church. So, in essence, their marriage is VALID, but not a SACRAMENT until they receive convalidation.

I could be confusing my terms, so an clarification is welcome!

Laura

*any

Even when I proofread, I miss my typos... oh well. (:

Tim J.

Laura-

It is my understanding that any valid marriage is "sacramental" by definition. Marriage is one of the sacraments (like Baptism) that does not require a priest.

bill912

I believe that any marriage between 2 baptized Christians is sacramental.

Ed Peters

Bill912 is right. 1983 CIC 1055.2

Ed Peters

ps: timJ, see how you were bit over-extended in your phrasing? EG: Two Jews can have have "valid marriage", but it's not a scarament. else, you were right.

Josh

39. And since the valid matrimonial consent among the faithful was constituted by Christ as a sign of grace, the sacramental nature is so intimately bound up with Christian wedlock that there can be no true marriage between baptized persons "without it being by that very fact a sacrament."[40]

From encyclical letter "Casti Connubii" of Pius XI
http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius11/P11CASTI.HTM

Tim J.

"ps: timJ, see how you were bit over-extended in your phrasing?"

Quite right, Ed, et al.

I guess I assumed that Laura was referring to 2 Christians, and I didn't make that clear.

SDG

Wow. Great analysis as usual Jimmy.

From Ed Peters:

Would most (indeed, would any?) of the 16th-century Reformers have been considered to have "formally defected" from the Church under this interpretation?

Dang! Good question! Go Ed!

gelsbern

Jimmy,

I am curious as to your take in regards to those who have "left the church" and joined independent catholic churches? Could this be a forerunner for dealing with groups like the SSPX as well that since they didnt't formally leave through the prescribed method, they are technically still part of the church? Or to people like me, who have taken a road outside of Rome toward the priesthood (I will be ordained in the next couple months), but still wish to somehow still be in communion with Rome? It appears that oridination might no longer be a formal act of defection unless I am missing something.

I refer specifically to point 2 and 3 from the USCCB document.

2. The Substance of the act of the will must be the rupture of those bonds of communion - faith, sacraments, and pastoral governance - that permit the Faithful to receive the life of grace within the Church. This means that the formal act of defection must have more than a juridical-administrative character (the removal of one's name from a Church membership registry maintained by the government in order to produce certain civil consequences), but be configured as a true separation from the constitutive elements of the life of the Church: it supposes, therefore, and act of apostasy, heresy or schism.

3. The juridical-administrative act of abandoning the Church does not per se constitute a formal act of defection as understood in the Code, given that there could still be the will to remain in communion of the faith.
On the other hand, heresy (whether format or material), schism and apostasy do not in themselves constitute a formal act of defection if they are not externally concretized and manifested to the ecclesiastical authority in the required manner.

Laura

Thanks for the clarification, Tim, Bill, and Ed!

Laura

Oh, and Josh, too.

I would assume that this would not even be considered as a non-Sacramental marriage. Annulments in this instance would be relatively easy to grant. Did you formally defect from the Church? No… Did you get a dispensation for being married outside of the Church? No…. Your marriage was blocked by Cannon Law and therefore you are granted annulment. You wouldn’t even need the Pauline or Petrine Privilege.

Shibboleth

Sorry, I meant dispensation of form not dispensation of marriage… that would be kind of a silly dispensation to give though…

JohnD

How would this effect Protestants who were given a valid baptism as infants and were thus "Catholic" whether they knew it or not?

From "Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma", p. 309:

"The members of the Church are those who have validly received the Sacrament of Baptism and who are not separated from the unity of the confession of the Faith, and from the unity of the lawful communion of the Church. (Sent. certa.)

"In the Encyclical "Mystici Corporis", Pius XII declared: "Only those are to be accounted really members of the church who have been regenerated in the waters of Baptism and profess the true faith, and have not cut themselves off from the structure of the Body by their own unhappy act or been severed therefrom, for very grave crimes, by the legitimate authority (D2286)."

Old Zhou

Dear Jimmy, Ed Peters, et alia,

This did make my eyebrow go up for a moment when I heard about it yesterday. I sent off an email to my pastor to see what he thinks. He will cosult with his canon lawyer friend and get back to me, and advised me to not be anxious about it in the meantime.

However, I'm still trying to figure out if I defected or not, or if my bishop would care. I'm open to comments and opinions.

Here is some of the story:

1. My parents (now both deceased) were married outside the Catholic Church in the late 1950's. My father was not, as far as I can tell, Catholic, and he hated the Catholic Church with a passion. My mother was Catholic, and even was confirmed by Timothy Cardinal Manning of Los Angeles when he was just an Auxiliary Bishop.

2. After much pleading, needling, cajoling, etc., my mother finally persuaded my father to go along with whatever a priest needed to do to get their marriage recognized by the Church, and me baptized, in the early 1960's. I was around 4 years old at the time. I have no memories of this. But after my mother's death, I obtained the sacramental records from our historical family parish. Her marriage is noted as this date in the early 1960's.

3. Again after much pleading, needling, cajoling, etc., my mother arranged for me to attend a summer CCD program at a local Catholic parish school and receive my First Communion, ca. 1968. It was wonderful, but I really only went to Mass a couple of more times with my great-grandparents on Chrismas Eve. This is the extent of my childhood Catholic experience: baptism, first confession and communion, and a couple Christmas Eve masses, and a summer CCD program for children.

4. In 1970, my parents divorced (I was 11), and I was placed in the custody of my father. Aside for the great trauma of the divoce and disintigration of my family, being, basically, abandoned by my mother, my father also worked to stamp out any traces of Catholicism in me. He remarried a woman who was more into Religious Science and esoterica like Theosophy. I went to their "church."

5. In the early 1970's, looking for meaning in life, I explored philosophy and various religions, and settled on Buddhism as my choice. I was a very unhappy kid, and it seemed that every desire or hope only brought more suffereing and disappointment, so better to learn how to not desire or hope.

6. On August 6, 1976, I had a life-changing "conversion experience" after watching a Billy Graham film at Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, with Pastor Chuck Smith. Having no memory of my baptism, and having been taught that my early Catholic formation was religious nonsense, I considered myself a heathen that needed to be saved, and I was baptized (again, but I was not aware of this) by Pastor Chuck in the Pacific Ocean at Corona del Mar Beach.

This began about 22 years of continuous life and ministry as an evangelical Protestant, including several years of being supported as a full time minister by evangelical churches, many more years as an unpaid minister, preaching all over the place, being a missionary in Asia, writing and teaching, baptizing, presiding at Sunday worship, etc. Along the way, in 1987, I married, in accord with the forms of my evangelical Church (for the record, both my wife and I have only been married once). We continued to serve in ministry, together, for another decade or so in the evangelical world.

7. In 1998, as my study of church history and theology deepend, I began to feel drawn to the Catholic Church. I gently pursuaded my wife to come along. We entered a parish RCIA program. As part of the RCIA process, I managed to find out the parish where I was baptized, using my dying mothers faded memories and the help of a friend on the ground in Los Angeles. I had no idea about the details of my baptism (date, place), and nobody in my family had any records. The opinion of the parish, and of the canon lawyer on the diocesan tribunal, was that I had "formally defected" and that our marriage in 1987 was a fine, sacramental marriage between two non-Catholic Christians. At the Easter Vigil in 1999, we were both Confirmed, and have been happy Catholics (well, there are bad days), ever since.

So, I'm waiting to see if this new document influences someone (like my pastor or bishop) to decide that my marriage is invalid (or not), and what, if anything, they want to do about it. Our 20 year anniversary is next May.

And from my own reflections on my history, stimulated by this news, I'm beginning to wonder if I really "formally defected." I mean, my parents took me out of the Catholic Church in which I was just barely rooted by age 10. By the time of my conversion experience at age 17, I considered my faded Catholic memories as just "religous supersitions" and went forward as a new evangelical Protestant, with fresh (believer's) baptism, into decades of ministry. Only when I was returning to the Catholic Church around age 40, when my mother was dying, and after she died, was I able to put together more definite traces of my maternal families Catholic history. And, true to form, my father disowned me over my return to the Catholic Church before he died. His wife, daughter, brothers and pet dogs were listed in his obiturary, but his now "non-existant" Catholic son was nowhere to be found. Ouch.

Anyway, I'm trying to understand if I defected or not; if not, how would a Canon Lawyer describe my situation?

(Sorry to go on so long!)

Laura

JohnD,

"The members of the Church are those who have validly received the Sacrament of Baptism and who are not separated from the unity of the confession of the Faith, and from the unity of the lawful communion of the Church."

This does not include Protestants. Just because someone has a valid baptism does not make them "Catholic by default." They still adhere to, for lack of a better term, a heretical sect. They are "seperated from the unity of the Faith."

Tim J.

Thanks for that story, Old Zhou.

I never get tired of hearing how God draws people to His Church, and how He preserves us in the meantime.

JohnD

//This does not include Protestants. Just because someone has a valid baptism does not make them "Catholic by default." They still adhere to, for lack of a better term, a heretical sect. They are "seperated from the unity of the Faith."//

Laura,

Actually an infant, validly baptized, is Catholic, regardless of who the parents are.

That's where this news becomes intersting, because it'd seem that children of Protestants, sometime after they reach the age of reason, would need to go through all these steps to "formally defect" from the Catholic Church, in order not be bound by the Catholic form of marriage and have a valid marriage in the eyes of the Church.

Laura

JohnD,

Well, I can see how that logic could work... a valid baptism gives one membership in the Church, and then upon reaching the age of reason, one "defects." But, this is where I bow out and leave the rest to the pros, because, like you, the ramifications of this, if true, are rather startling.

Laura

Today is not my day for commenting! I meant to say, "...because, like you pointed out, the ramifications of this..."

SteveG

Jimmy/Ed/anyone?

My eyebrows went up too as I was reading this. I was in EXACTLY the situation that is described.

*Left the Catholic Church
*Married a non-beleiver
*Returned to the Church
*Got a decleration from the Bishop of the diocese I was in at the time stating that I had defected and that my marriage was valid.
*Wife converted as well.

The indication seems to be that this is not retroactive. Can I proceed on that assumption in good faith unless I learn otherwise?

Even if it were retroactive, would the fact that I have a decleration from the Bishop in writing 'exempt' me from any retroactivity?

My gut says I shouldn't get nervous, but my sweaty brow is suggesting that I am indeed nervous about this.

Thanks in advance for any guidance.

Ed Peters

JohnD: your post is, well, sooooooo wrong. Think about this for minute.

Do you really want to say, e.g., that a validly baptized Greek Orthodox baby is Catholic? Do you want to to say that ANY baptized person (who has not formally defected from the Church at or after age 7) is de fault Catholic, and therefore is bound by canon law, and therefore is required to observe canonical form, and therefore --not having done so-- is in a invalid marriage?

Surely not. Or do I misunderstand?

ps: guys with interesting qq, i don't reply to specific personal questions that, for me anyway, would constitute the practice of canon law; i only do that under the rubric of my professional practice. i'm sure you understand, baby needs new shoes, and all that.

SteveG

Understood. In my anxiety, I just didn't think of it. Sorry for attempting to impose.

Old Zhou

Well, Ed, you can always use the "interesting qq," appropriate abstracted, for your next article on "Who is Married?"

Shibboleth

From a Cannon Law aspect…. whatever, but I think we need to be careful when we say Catholic or not Catholic in this instance. All Christians are part of the Body of Christ and the Body of Christ on Earth is his Church. So if there is only one true Church and that Church is the Catholic Church then anyone that is part of the Body is part of the Catholic Church.

Wow that was like a "who's on first" bit...

The question then lies in whether or not the relationship with Rome is such that they are bound by the code of Catholic Cannon Law. Would the Eastern Rights fall under this definition of ‘defection’? I doubt it, but then again, the relationship with disciplinary laws amongst Rights within the Catholic Church becomes a blur to me…

In other wards if this is not part of the The Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium then there are many Catholics to which this does not apply.

Ed Peters

Now, Shib, don't brush off canon law as just a whatever ... canon law is theology in action. I was waiting for someone to make your point, so I could say, Folks, you really need to read Lumen gentium here. Then check out 1983 CIC 204-205. Secular analogies don't work, as in, you're either a Montana citizen, or you're not; there are degrees of communion in ecclesial parlance, and it is requiring some time to get that straight, after centuries of using a vocabulary that did not express that notion. The danger is, like for Shib, his correctness in some respects makes some assertions unnuanced just where he needs precision. To borrow from my own bloggin here, quiz time: distinguish among and critique the following aphorismal complex:

Semel [baptizatus/Christianus/Catholicus] semper [baptizatus/Christianus/Catholicus]. Girls, feel free to use the feminine endings, the results will be the same.

If you can walk through those nine permutations correctly, you've got it.

ps: guys, understood. OZ, i run with other people's good qq all the time!

gelsbern

Wow I would have hoped someone would have responded to my question. I am really curious. I for some reason was able to see this story last night and I sent an email off but haven't received a reply. Please Mr. Akin or Mr. Peters, could you please review my question above and perhaps tell me what your initial thoughts are?

anon for now

Hang on! What about those who are smack in the middle of these circumstances. I agreed to let my children participate in my brother's wedding and agreed to attend because I believed that he had formally defected when he was in high school and he was "rebaptized" at a non-denominational Christian church and therefore entering into a valid marriage between two Christians. So, according to the old interpretation he had formally defected, but since he hasn't married yet does the new interpretation apply?

JohnD

//Do you really want to say, e.g., that a validly baptized Greek Orthodox baby is Catholic? Do you want to to say that ANY baptized person (who has not formally defected from the Church at or after age 7) is de fault Catholic, and therefore is bound by canon law, and therefore is required to observe canonical form, and therefore --not having done so-- is in a invalid marriage?

Surely not. Or do I misunderstand?

//

Yup, valid baptism is the gateway into Christ's Catholic Church, no matter who your parents happen to be. If it isn't, your 3 year old baptized baby isn't Catholic. A non-heretical lack of knowledge or understanding of dogma doesn't make one non-Catholic, otherwise we'd all be in a heap of trouble.


Now, since I'm not a canon lawyer, I cannot say whether or not there are exceptions for such people in being bound by the Code of Canon Law after they reach the age of reason, and hence the question.

Couldn't this whole issue become moot if there was an exception in Canon Law for people who do not understand the Law to apply to them?

Old Zhou

Two general questions:

Is there a minimum age at which one can make "formal defections?" I can't imagine a fifth grader doing such a thing. Maybe a high schooler. Seems like 14-16 might be a global lower limit, as with marriage. Or age of majority? Doesn't this require the "defector" to be acting as an ecclesial "legal agent", which usually excludes children?

What is the canonical status of children baptized as Catholic infants and then taken out of the Church by their parents and raised in another faith community, and never informed of their "being Catholic"?

gxs

Practical moral question: would it be sinful to assist someone, who has fully joined another denomination, in writing their bishop to tell them of the defection, in order to help make their marriage valid?

Ed Peters

dang, my post just got eaten. gotta go. John D, repeating a position doesn't make it right: what does subsistit mean in LG? OldZ: i'd go with 14, or 18, and those kids are still still Catholic. sorry to rush. never hit "preview" folks, it eats your post.

JohnD

After doing some reading, I may harbor a misconception, on which I hope to be instructed one way or another.

Is one only truly Catholic if one is validly baptized and professes to accept whatever (not implying explicit knowledge of each dogma) the Church holds and teaches to be true?

If that is the case, perhaps the first half of this from "Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma" should be re-written to conform to the second part:

//
The members of the Church are those who have validly received the Sacrament of Baptism and who are not separated from the unity of the confession of the Faith, and from the unity of the lawful communion of the Church. (Sent. certa.)

"In the Encyclical "Mystici Corporis", Pius XII declared: "Only those are to be accounted really members of the church who have been regenerated in the waters of Baptism and profess the true faith, and have not cut themselves off from the structure of the Body by their own unhappy act or been severed therefrom, for very grave crimes, by the legitimate authority (D2286)."//

Thanks in advance.

RC

There is one category of people who will still meet the criteria for formal defection: the bitter types who send their pastors or bishops snippy letters "resigning" from the Church and demanding a certificate of excommunication.

Old Zhou

A few more thoughts on this...

When I spoke with a canon lawyer in 1998, a priest on my Diocesan Tribunal, he mentioned that it was good I married in 1987, after the 1983 revision of Canon Law with the "formal defection" clause. Otherwise, my marriage would be considered null by the Church, and that, prior to 1983, anyone baptized Catholic was "always Catholic," and even if I never stepped into a Catholic Church after my parents divorce when I was 10, the Church still claimed me, and expected me to follow Church law in matters such as marriage.

Howeveer, my "formal defection" was probably most likely on or shortly after August 6, 1976, when I went from thinking myself a Buddhist to an evangelical Christian, made a public confession of faith at Calvary Chapel, and was baptized (the first time that I was aware of) by Pastor Churck Smith in the Pacific Ocean. Etc.

Except, there was no such thing as "formal defection" in 1976, was there? That was not invented until 1983. In fact, the Diocese of Orange was just erected five months earlier! (something I just learned). Bp. Johnson would have been quite perplexed, I imagine, if in 1976, just after the Diocese was erected, some evangelical sent him a letter saying, "I was baptized Catholic as a child, but now I'm an evangelical Protestant. Could you please send me an acknowledgement? Farewell." I just don't see this working in 1976, before the Canon Law revision of 1983. My local parish would have been St. John the Baptist on Baker, which is now run by O. Praem. priests. I actually did try to visit once, about 1978, but after I told the priest at the door that I was not Catholic, he decided that I was a trespasser and called the police on me. Apparently he did not want evangelicals from Calvary Chapel sitting around reading the Bible. Those pesky Jesus People!

Anyway, when I went Protestant evangelical, it was before the 1983 Code, and there was no such thing as the "formal defection," even if I wanted to do it.

When I married in 1987, if someone told me I had to get permission from the Roman Catholic bishop of Oakland, I would have just told that person that they were crazy, and I was not Catholic. I suspect that the Bishop (Cummins), had we talked, probably would have agreed with me. In fact, I had just recently returned as a missionary from Asia, was working in ministry at an evangelical Church, and lived in the rectory of the Protestant Church before moving out to set up house with my bride. And I probably helped a number of confused Catholics in Berkeley get "saved," and (re-)baptized them as believers.

Anyway, if now, after 25 years of perhaps misunderstanding of "formal defection," if my bishop or pastor want me to do something, fine. I'll do whatever they want. Heck, even if they want us to live apart for some months as part of whatever process they want, that is no problem. My wife is retired and she can go visit her elderly parents or sisters, and I can be a bachelor again and eat more pizza and ice cream!

Whatever. I'm not worried about this. It is something for the bishops to figure out.

anon for now

Old Zhou,
But what about those of us who are faced with this situation indirectly? If I thought my brother was a Catholic who was attempting a marriage outside of the Catholic Church, I am not sure I could let my children participate in good conscience. I know some people who wouldn't even attend. I only agreed because I believed he had formally defected. Like someone asked earlier, is it sinful for me to encourage him to commit formal heresy by asking him to write an official letter of defection? He hasn't thought of himself as a Catholic in a long time, why would he write to the Bishop about it? I have hope that my brother might return to the church one day and I see this as throwing up a huge road block to that happening if it doesn't make him slam the door on that possibility altogether! He was a confused teenager whose parents had divorced and who never really was taught the faith, not by my mom, not by the CCD teachers. There is a part of me that wants to say," If you are going to hold people accountable for following the rules of the Faith then you better start teaching them the TRUTHS of the Faith and the rules!

JohnD – there are people of the age of reason within the Catholic Church that are not bound by the Catholic Code of Cannon Law that have not formally rejected the Church. Different Rights have their own Cannon. Their Cannon has to be approved by Rome but they are under their own disciplinary laws. For instance, Priests in some Eastern Rights are allowed to be married.

Anon – in regards to your sons you made your verbal contract with your brother under the old understanding of the rule; therefore, you made your decision in good conscience and can sleep well knowing at least that much. Secondly, there is defection and there is expulsion – two means to the same end. I know that there are laws in place that result in automatic excommunication. I would check with someone, far more knowing that I on this matter, if excommunication puts someone in the same category as a person that has defected and if so does your brother qualify.

Old Zhou

More musings about this stuff....

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but, from a Canonical point of view, wasn't it practically impossible to "defect" from the Catholic Church before 1983? The irony of this is that, based on my conversations with people in California over the past 40 years, very large numbers of Catholics "defected" in some way or another in the 1970's, especially after Humanae Vitae and "no married priests" from the Church, and "no fault divorce" and "women's lib" in the culture. Priests left, nuns left, laity left, in large numbers in the 1970's, to explore other paths in life outside the Catholic Church that they grew up in (and which no longer existed, perhaps, after the Council). I think the "formal defection" clause in the 1983 CCL might have been something of an effort to help them come back. Maybe it is time to start to close that door.

Maybe the door is no longer necessary. Unlike the 1960's and 1970's, it now seems to be no problem for Catholics to go to Bible studies at Presbyterian Churches, or work with the Methodists in social programs, etc. Perhaps as a lot of the walls between Churches are coming down over the last 20 or so years, there is less need for "formal defection." This might be a way to define it into irrelevance.

Old Zhou

Sorry, forgot one other musing on this...

It seems that the Catholic Church has never paid much attention to the "Exit" from the Church. Perhaps because the assumption was, prior to 1983, "Once Catholic, Always Catholic." (You were just going to hell for not going to Mass, but you were still Catholic, or something like that.)

Even with the CCL of 1983, nobody seemed obligated to record exits (defections), just recognize them (usually informally) if someone wanted to come back.

This new definition seems to be saying that Bishops must document exits from the Church. I really don't think Bishops want to do that, and they probably just will not. You can ask you Bishop all day for the necessary documentation to make your "formal defection" official and canonical, but if His Excellency is inclined to ignore you, too bad. Why would he want to document his sheep that stray away? Bad idea.

Shibboleth

Once again though it is never stated this way a person is not so much defecting from the Catholic Church as he is defecting from the Roman See. In turn then they are no longer under the legislative powers of the Roman Curia.

I hope I got the terminology correct I am EO.

RC

If I'm reading the instruction from Rome correctly, it doesn't appear necessary that the pastor or bishop send an acknowledgement of the defection or consent to it, but merely that it be recorded.

Trubador

Is this really just a way to get SSPX members back in the fold, thereby forcing them to jump thru the hoops in order to 'officially" be separated from the Church?

just a hunch...

Tim J.

"Is this really just a way to get SSPX members back in the fold..."

I can't imagine that such a sweeping change would be made, affecting so many, in order to encourage reconciliation with such a relatively small group of people.

Then again, I don't understand the purpose of the whole thing. I think it more likely to have something to do with annulments, as someone suggested above.

Along the lines of, "Well, you don't need an annulment, because your marriage outside the Church was never sacramentally valid, because you never formally defected from the Church (even though you were re-baptized and have been attending a Baptist church for your entire adult life, until now).".

So, it makes getting re-married in the Church easier for a returning Catholic who is civilly divorced, and it makes it possible for them to receive Communion (right after confession). Those returning Catholics that are still in a sacramentally invalid civil marriage can have it convalidated, and *voila!*!

It also means, though, that the Church would NOT be recognizing as valid many marriages that would have been so recognized until now.

But I am only speculating.

Is this correct? Anybody?

michael hugo

Jimmy,

Your post deals with this document from the perspective of marriage. The actual document doesn't mention marriage once.

It is my opinion that this document has more to do with the idea of Universal Salvation, and the redefinition of "Church". Particularly as it applies to protestantism.

"Cardinal Walter Kasper, Prefect of Vatican Council for Promoting Christian Unity: “… today we no longer understand ecumenism in the sense of a return, by which the others would ‘be converted’ and return to being Catholics. This was expressly abandoned by Vatican II.” (Adista, Feb. 26, 2001)

In an Address on World Youth Day, Aug. 19, 2005, Benedict XVI said the same thing as Kasper:

Benedict XVI, Address to Protestants at World Youth Day, August 19, 2005: “And we now ask: What does it mean to restore the unity of all Christians?... This unity, we are convinced, indeed subsists in the Catholic Church, without the possibility of ever being lost (Unitatis Redintegratio, nn. 2, 4, etc.); the Church in fact has not totally disappeared from the world. On the other hand, this unity does not mean what could be called ecumenism of the return: that is, to deny and to reject one’s own faith history. Absolutely not!” (L’Osservatore Romano, August 24, 2005, p. 8.)"

Does this document not strengthen the position that almost any "christian" denomimation is IN the Church, because they didn't jump through the hoops to be OUT of the Church? Could this just be one more step in redefining the universality of the Church?

Old Zhou

Dear Michael Hugo,

The first paragraph of the document includes:

"...the so-called actus formalis defectionis ab Ecclesia catholica mentioned in canons 1086.1, 1117 and 1124 of the Code of Canon Law."

Canons 1055-1165, which include the entire list of Canons mentioned as the subject of the "clarification," are all on Marriage:

Can. 1086 §1. A marriage between two persons, one of whom has been baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it and has not defected from it by a formal act and the other of whom is not baptized, is invalid.

Can. 1117 The form established above must be observed if at least one of the parties contracting marriage was baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it and has not defected from it by a formal act, without prejudice to the prescripts of ⇒ can. 1127, §2.

Can. 1124 Without express permission of the competent authority, a marriage is prohibited between two baptized persons of whom one is baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it after baptism and has not defected from it by a formal act and the other of whom is enrolled in a Church or ecclesial community not in full communion with the Catholic Church.

Bp. Skylstad's cover letter, paragraph two, is entirely about marriage.

How can you think this is about anything but marriage?

michael hugo

Old Zhou,

You are right. I re-read the document and can only say that I must have been smoking crack at the time.

Whew! Sorry for wasting your time!

Fr. Shane Tharp

Jimmy and others,
When I was in the seminary, we talked about this point in some detail, and the professor agreed that formal defection is somewhat hard to realize. Most people just don't take the effort to formally announce, "I am outta here!" However, in the class there was a great deal of discussion of pro forma actions which could constitute a formal act (teaching Sunday school in another religion, e.g.) which then bred much confusion. The message was evident: formal defection should not be assumed unless paperwork, photos, or some other evidence was in hand.
I personally welcome the clarification as it sets guidelines for how to understand the process which due to a lacuna in the law, wasn't clear. And Jimmy's comments were enlightening as well.

anon for now

Fr. Tharp,
I understand that there could be some quibbles over what constitutes a formal act especially considering the example you used. But my brother took the steps of being "rebaptized" into a non-denominational church. He has continued to attend non-denominational churches, although not the some one he was rebaptized at with some temporary forays into a Baptist church probably because my father's family is Baptist and he was closer to his family than my mom's. I really don't see any ambiguity here. This happened about 9 years ago so it is not like he met a Protestant girl last week and now he wants to marry her in her church. I personally feel as though he fulfilled the requirements for formal defection based on the understanding and interpretation at the time and that now he is entering into a valid marriage between two Christians. However, should he ever decide to return to the Catholic Church as I hope he will, it will be up to the Church to determine if his marriage needs convalidation, it is not my job to determine that. I too welcome clarification but find it a little frustrating that the attitude seems to be, "Well, your marriage would have been valid last week, but now it's not because we have decide to clarify this rule now and you haven't met the new requirements."

Mary

of whom one is baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it after baptism and has not defected from it by a formal act and the other of whom is enrolled in a Church or ecclesial community not in full communion with the Catholic Church.

This would seem to argue that "enrolling" would be a formal act, because "the other" is not explicitly limited to those baptized outside full communion.

Prof. Antonio Basto

Steve G,

It seems to me that we cannot equate the situation of a child that is baptized in the Catholic Church with a child that is baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church.

There are two separate aspects to consider with regard to Baptism:

(1) Baptism is a Sacrament whereby one is incorporated into the mystical Body of Christ, that is the Catholic Church (that is why even those who are baptized outside of the Catholic Church are linked to Her, even if they do not know --- see the Declaration Dominus Iesus);

(2) The Sacrament of Baptism performed by a Catholic minister is the act that marks one's juridical (canonical) entrance into the Church. (so children baptized in the Catholic Church are Catholics, and, as such, the Code of Canon Law contains norms pertaining to them).

That is one of the reasons why, when a child in danger of death is baptized by a layperson, this Baptism (that confers the sacramental character), will need to be notified to the proper pastor. Even if no conditional baptism is necessary, the pastor, after performing the suplemental rites, will consider the child to have been received in the Church, and will draw the certificate of baptism specifiying the details of the case.

Of course, in the case of people baptized in other Churches, such as the Greek Orthodox one, Baptism only produces the effect described in number (1) above, not that set out in number (2).

In other words, Baptism in another Christian denomination is the Sacrament, cleanses original sin, and incorporates the recipient in the mystical Body of Christ, that is the Catholic Church (even if he does not know that). But this baptism in another Church won't, of course, incorporate juridically the recipient into the Church. So, in the eyes of canon law, a person baptized in an orthodox Church is not a Catholic. This person will only become a Catholic if he adheres to the Catholic Church. (There is a rite for receiving people already validly baptized in other denominations).

But in John D's case, he WAS baptized in the Catholic Church, by a Catholic minister, and was thus enrolled in Her in a juridical, canonical sense. His Baptism, asside from being the Sacrament of Christian initiation, was his canonical reception in the Church.

And, if we apply this new document, he never formally defected the Church, which would indicate that his marriage required canonical form.

Prof Antonio Basto

John D,

Don't worry, you were in good faith.

If I were you, I would pursue the convalidation of the marriage bond.

A. Klas

I thought that when I recently formally joined the Episcopalian Church (they neither re-baptize nor re-confirm Catholics) that I had schismated myself and was no longer Catholic. So to stop being Catholic I have to write a letter to the Catholic Bishop?

I guess since I was already married by an Old Roman Catholic priest I'm not really motivated to jump through the hoops required. For one thing, I'm not bitter about the Catholic Church at all. This was more of a political decision.

Old Zhou

Update:

I. I've given up on the idea of "formal defection," and the assumed definition provided to me, in sincerity and best effort, by my Diocesan Tribunal in 1998. Part of the reason is that I have since "reverted," and:

- the clarification from the Vatican says nothing about reversion, or how, if one could actually get a pastor to make an entry of "defection ab Ecclesia catholica actu formali" on their baptismal record, how this would be reversed if the person later came to their senses,

- I can imagine that the overworked, understaffed Diocesan Tribunals will need a fair amount of time to figure out exactly how this formal, written defection is to be done, and, until that happens, I don't think many pastors will want to be making such notations in baptismal records based on a letter (is it even real?) received in the mail.

I can with confidence and clear conscience say that "I have never formally defected from the Catholic Church." According to the clarification.

I was just a very confused Catholic kid who thought I was a Protestant minister.

II. In regard to my marriage (my one and only, and next week is our 19th anniversary...), my wife and I are working on convalidation with our local pastor and the diocese.

III. This is starting to have a sort of "tectonic" or "glacial" shifting effect in my psyche, as I re-write my personal history of 1976-1998 in my head. Interesting. This might be good for me, for my wife, for our marriage, and for the Church.

Old Zhou

Another follow-up post.

From my diocesan administrative weekly (May 2, 2006):
--
FROM THE CANON LAW DEPARTMENT
Regarding an "act of formal defection from the Church"
In our ministry to those who are preparing for marriage or annulments, we occasionally encounter situations where the “Catholicity” of one or both parties may be in doubt, i.e., whether or not a person has defected from the Catholic Church by a formal act (canons 1086, 1117 and 1124). In such cases, there may be a question whether a dispensation is necessary for marriage or whether a previous marriage is valid in the eyes of the Church. The Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts has recently provided specific guidelines for assessing such situations. The requirements that are necessary in order that the defection from the Catholic Church be validly configured as a true formal act are the following: a) the internal decision to leave the Catholic Church;
b) the realization and external manifestation of that decision; and,
c) the reception of that decision by the competent ecclesiastical authority.
Therefore, as indicated in c) above, it is required that the formal act of defection be manifested by the interested party in written form before the Ordinary or Proper Pastor who are considered uniquely qualified to make the judgment concerning the existence or non-existence of a valid juridical act of apostasy, heresy, or schism. If such a determination is made, it must be noted in the baptismal registry with the explicit mention of the occurrence of a “defection ab Ecclesia catholica actu formali” (a defection from the Catholic Church by a formal act). Please contact the Diocesan Tribunal if you desire a copy of the full text of this “Notification” or if you have any questions.
--

From my diocesan administrative weekly (May 9, 2006):
--
FROM THE CANON LAW DEPARTMENT
Regarding an "act of formal defection from the Church"
In our ministry to those who are preparing for marriage or annulments, we occasionally encounter situations where the “Catholicity” of one or both parties may be in doubt, i.e., whether or not a person has defected from the Catholic Church by a formal act (canons 1086, 1117 and 1124). In such cases, there may be a question whether a dispensation is necessary for marriage or whether a previous marriage is valid in the eyes of the Church. The Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts has recently provided specific guidelines for assessing such situations. The requirements that are necessary in order that the defection from the Catholic Church be validly configured as a true formal act are the following: a) the internal decision to leave the Catholic Church;
b) the realization and external manifestation of that decision; and,
c) the reception of that decision by the competent ecclesiastical authority.
Therefore, as indicated in c) above, it is required that the formal act of defection be manifested by the interested party in written form before the Ordinary or Proper Pastor who are considered uniquely qualified to make the judgment concerning the existence or non-existence of a valid juridical act of apostasy, heresy, or schism. If such a determination is made, it must be noted in the baptismal registry with the explicit mention of the occurrence of a “defection ab Ecclesia catholica actu formali” (a defection from the Catholic Church by a formal act). Please contact the Diocesan Tribunal if you desire a copy of the full text of this “Notification” or if you have any questions.
--

It looks like the Diocese of Oakland is trying to say, "This clarificiation is now in effect."

FG

You can download an English language version of the actus defectionis at the website of the Freedom From Religion Party Australia www.freedomparty.org.au

Robert B

Hello. I was baptized in the RCC and I made my first communion in the RCC. That's as far as I got. Later in life I became a Lutheran. So, I had given a formal written statement of my wanting to have my name removed from the RCC since now I am a Lutheran. I have a letter staing my name has been removed/deleted from the RCC. This latter is from the Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y. Now, much later in life I am neither a Lutheran or a Roman catholic. Now, What I want to know am I still of the list of the RCC? Or am I now back on the list? I want to know because I want my name off the list of the RCC. I am never going back to any church. Believe me there is no spark or wish to go back to any church. I am done. Consider me a non-believer or whatever else term you got. I just don't believe anymore. I have felt this way for over 10 years and I AM NOT, I REPEAT, I AM NOT GOING BACK TO THE RCC OR ANY OTHER CHURCH THERE IS! Please don't think I am angry with the church or anything like that. I just don't believe anymore, that's all. Just let me know if my letter from the diocese dated Nov. 30, 1999 is still a valid removal from the church. And yes I am married happily for over 10 years and we didn't get married at the RCC. By the Justice of the Peace. And believe me it's valid ask the the state and the IRS! They count as to what's valid not a church. What the church says is meaningless. As you have posted yourself the rules change often in churches. With the new law the 1983 law is null and void. so, there you have it the church changes rules to fit their needs. be it the RCC or a Protestant church. The rules change only to have as many names of the rolls of the RCC to boast and boost their numbers. I have many friends who were baptized as infants at the local RCC and never went back there again! I'm sure they are still counted as members. It's just a numbers game, that's all. That's why they are now making it more difficult to defect or leave the RCC. So, their numbers stay up. That's all. Come on! Wake up and smell the coffee! So, in conclusion of all this I still want to know if my letter from the Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y. is still valid. Also, if my name is on a baptism and first communion lists can I get my name off those lists as well? If so, please let me know, so I can get that done as well. Thanks for your time. Regards, Robert B.

Memphis Aggie

If you really have "no spark" left then why a) read this site at all and b) care what the RCC thinks? Seriously, the fact that you still care enough to read this and to fret over it demonstrates that a "spark" of some kind still lives.

Vesa

If I left the Church, I could care less about what the RCC was doing, much less write about it on an RCC blog.

Such that it is, there must be some nagging of conscience that tugs on one's mind -- of course, that is certainly understandable since I, too, would be concerned about having, basically, turned my back on the one saviour who gave His life for me and would actually carry my burden rather than add to it.

Robert B

The reason. I looked into this is I like clean breaks. I would like my name removed from kind of list the RCC has my name on. That's all I'm interested in. For me personally it gives me a clear conscience when I know that whatever I left behind has no connection to me ever again. Just like it irks me to no end that knowing that even though my first wife whom I divorced still gets a piece of my social security how little it me be when I kick the bucket. To me that is not a clean break. Even though I have no contact with my ex wife, there is still a connection with the social security. Do you get what I mean? I looked here because I want to make certain, that there is no connection between me and what I left behind. Call it burning bridges or what have you. I just don't like connections. I have no arguments with the RCC or it's people. I just don't believe anymore. It's really that simple. No hidden agenda's or anything like that. Look I was baptized as an infant because thats what was done. I made my first communion because my Aunt bullied my mother into it. But I never went to church any other time. I just don't believe. I know there are people that do and I don't have anything against them. They live their lives and I'll live mine. So, that's it in a nutshell. And if anyone out there still thinks I have some kind of spark or belief in god or the church, I would have to say they have to look at themselves. Because I guess they cannot not believe that someone don't believe. Anyway, that's it. All I was looking for was a way to get my name off any and all lists the RCC has my name on. Nothing more, nothing less. Just plain and simple. Anyway, if anyone out there knows how to do this. Let me know. Thanks in advance to anyone who has any info on this. Regards, Rob.

Esquire

Robert B,

Believe it or not, there's really no effective way to get your name off of the list until you're dead. All the Persons who really matter have copies of it, so even if you think you're name has been taken off, it'll keep popping up again.

I hope you find that clear conscience you're looking for.

Regards.

Vesa

I have no arguments with the RCC or it's people. I just don't believe anymore. It's really that simple.


No -- for some reason you still give a damn about the RCC.

Indeed, it's really that simple.

Do yourself a favor -- PRAY!

Memphis Aggie

The clean break you're looking for Robert is forgiveness. If you could forgive the Church you would worry less about the connection , just like if you could forgive your ex you would not begrudge her a little money after you die.

That said, I fully understand the lack of faith; I was an atheist/agnostic for 37 years. I understand that the outside pressuring may be a big part of why you left. Worship should be sincere or it's not really worship. I suggest you try to detach your self from any lingering resentment for your childhood experiences in the Church. Your Aunt and zealots like us may come on too strong but we really do mean well.

Robert B

Ok I guess no one understands what I'm trying to say. I don't own any papers from the rcc so, I have to assume that those papers don't exist and since I never was a member of any church, I again would have to assume there is no list with my name on it and just forget it. You see this started a while ago when I found out that my ex wife will get some kind of cut from social security when I die. And that really bothered me. Then I started thinking about where else am I linked to that I am not involved with anymore and I thought about the rcc. So, again it's about clean breaks. I love 'em they are so final. It's kind of a thing with me I guess you guys won't understand that. And to think that my ex wife and the rcc are still connected t me even in a small way irks me. Why can't anything be final? To me things being final are like neat little packages. that you can just drop off and lose. Does anybody out there get that? Well, Like when you leave a job, you don't want anything to do with your old job at your new job, right. I don't know if my analogies are working here. So, I guess I have to just live out my life and forget about these things. I'm just a kind of neat freak and I like things that I'm done with to be gone. I've done it with other aspects of my life. I guess it's all "paper trails" as some say. I would just not like to have paper trails with anything I'm done with. So, I guess I just have to end this idea of having my name removed from things I'm not part of anymore. Thanks for your time.

bill912

As Esquire correctly put it: "All the Persons who really matter have copies of it..."

I think the capital P was intentional.

Vesa also got it right: "PRAY!"

Esquire

Robert B,

Your analogies are working just fine. And I think Pascal answers most of your questions in the Pensees. If anyone gets what you're saying, it's probably him.

Memphis Aggie

Robert B,

I think I get it, you like the neat and tidy unambiguous break. Hot or cold, not at all lukewarm. Sounds great, but nothing in this life is that clean or perfect, the baggage of the past is carried on no matter what you do. You can seek to reduce the effects of the past, forget about it, or move on, but that's it. The only clean break in this life is for the faithful, i.e. Baptism. Even reconciliation has links to the past through penance and reparation.

Or another way of putting my long winded spiel is: "that'd be nice but it doesn't work that way".

Vesa

The only clean break in this life...

Robert B,

Continue the path you are on and I can assure you that the "clean break" you are after will inevitably happen -- although it will not be realized in this life, but in the one to come.

The "clean break" will be one that you will wish did not occur; for when that event ultimately happens, the eternity afforded by this "clean break" in the life to come cannot be undone.

Memphis Aggie

Vesa,

I avoided that argument because, although I believe it, I'm sure Robert B does not - so it carries little weight with him and may be the kind of argument that causes him to disengage entirely. That said, your statement may be more correct one Biblically because to warn another of the danger preserves yourself from sin (I think that's explicitly in Jeremiah).
What I am hoping to encourage is what I view as the first crucial step toward any conversion which is simply the lack of active resentment toward the Church or God or in other words an open mind, characterized by a lack of hostility. It might not sound like much but that's where I started. In fact I was in the second stage, in that I had an outsiders appreciation of the value of faith, for years before I had any faith myself.

Robert B

Memphis Aggie is right. What Vesa said carries no weight. I don't believe nor do I care what happens when I die. When I'm dead I'll be totally free from all this nonsense that goes on in life. There is no need for the church or a god. Just like I have no need for an ex wife but unfortunatly there will always be a connection there. Through the social security. I just wanna know why can't there be clean breaks? I see it as really simple, but everyone has to put more on it than there really is. I have seen a lot in my life and after a lot of thought I don't believe. It's really that simple. Therefore it makes sense to me that if I don't believe, I should have my nice neat package of cutting ties. And I would think that the rcc would agree with me. I'm sure they wouldn't want to have a bunch of non believers counted as believers. Unless they are just going for numbers. Just counting everyone who was baptized or what have you and never went to church again. Does anyone get what I mean. I know if I ran some sort of organization and someone who was in it, then decided not to be in it. I would let them go in a moments notice. Why have dead wood lying around? I guess I have my quirks. I like things neat and tidy. You should see how neat and organized my apartment is. If I had to move I could pack up my things in a moments notice and be on my way. and doing it all by myself to boot! But funny enough getting back to organization and having all the right papers as someone had just posted. I do not own my baptism or first communion papers. I would definitly know if I had them. Anyway, I guess this is fruitless, just like the social security thing. I can't change that either. I wish I could. Just for the record I am NOT mad at the rcc or it's people or god for that matter. How can I be mad at a church I know nothing about and how can I be mad at people I never met and how can I be mad at a god/spiritual being that doesn't exist? If any of you on this blog think so, then you have read FAR too much into what I'm trying to do. I know I have made mistakes in life. Now, I'm just trying to fix them. Again, it's just that simple. So, I have come to the conclusion that none of you guys on this blog know how to get my name off baptism, first communion lists. I know these lists are out there. Just getting off them is the problem. Just like a "roach motel" I guess. You can check in but you can't check out. Maybe that will get someone off their fanny and give me the correct info. Thanks anyway. Rob.

Not listed

I know these lists are out there. Just getting off them is the problem.

There are names on lists, but unless you are a name, you are not on any list.

Robert B

There are names on lists, but unless you are a name, you are not on any list.

WHAT IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN????? I bet you, you cannot explain what you just said.

bill912

That is a troll, trying to get your goat, Robert B. Ignore the jerk.

Not listed

I don't want anyone's goat. I maintain all the lists and you've never been on any list. Some name you might think to be you may be on a list, but that's not you.

Memphis Aggie

Hi Robert,

Think of it this way. Have you ever had an old girlfriend whose memory makes you say if only ...? Or imagine a lonely mother who has lost contact with a grown son. The Church longs for you like that, so it remembers you and keeps the light on, just in case.

Robert B

Hi Memphis Aggie

You see that's the point there never will be "a just in case." As for old girl friends, they are forgotten. The "only ifs" I've ever had were only if I didn't get married. I'm not much into sentimentals. So, you're telling me that some one the rcc excommunicates can get back in? If they chose to. There are only things I'm sorry about. I'm sorry my parents baptized me. Then get me to make my communion. They should have left me alone. I'm sorry I got married. That's the biggest mistake! Not because of the big, bad, mighty rcc. No for me I found out that I'm better off alone. and just getting off these lists will make me feel better as I have said numerous times I am not a catholic or a christian. I'm a guy with a quirky idea of getting rid of garbage. Getting rid of things I don't need. The extent of my catholic/christian life was being baptized at a church my parents didn't attend nor did they ever attend church not even christmas or easter. Then I made my first communion I just had it done. Didn't attend church, neither did my parents. My parents never gave weekly contributions to any church. The only time my family was in a church was for a wedding or a funeral. So, if you count being baptized and having your first communion without going to church a catholic then I guess there are gazillions of catholics out there. That's why I want to get my name off the baptism and first communion lists. Because those have to be the only lists I'm on. I never went to a catholic church. Except for weddings, funerals and baptisms. I never went to the rcc for like a regular sunday church thing. I never got up early on a sunday morning got my suit on and went to church. It's not my upbringing. So anyway is there still anybody out there who knows anything about these lists and how to get off them? Please let me know. Regards, Rob.

Robert B

Hi again everyone.

I was thinking about what I have said and I thought I went off track. So, now I'm gonna get back on track and ask what I want to know. After all this thing is called "Formal Defection". I will stick to the facts. The facts are: The number one fact is, I do not consider myself a catholic and or a christian. Now, to the other fatcs. I was baptized as an infant in some church in Brooklyn, N.Y. Later I had my first communion (by the pestering of my Aunt to my mother.) in some church in Queens, N.Y. I never had my confirmation. (matter of fact I found out about such a thing from my ex wife when I was in my mid-20's.) So, I'm guessing that my name is on the baptism list of that church or the "HQ" of the rcc and my name must be on the first communion list of that church or the "HQ" of the rcc. Am I right? Or am I wrong? I don't know these answers. Inbetween these times I never went to church, nor did my family. Let me rephrase that. My family did go to church for weddings, funerals, baptisms and first communions. But never, never, ever! Did my parents go to church on a regular sunday that did not involve weddings, funerals, baptisms and first communions. I got married by the justice of the peace. Then later divorced by a bunch of lawyers and a judge. Anyway, in all this time I have never went to any rcc. Nor, am I a member of any rcc. So, does the rcc still count me as a member? If yes, how do I formally defect? Like I said before I like clean breaks. Again unfortunatly I am stuck with my ex wife through the stupid social security law. If nothing can be done about getiing off these lists, then I guess I'm gonna have to live with it begrudgingly though. And the on the other side of the coin is that if there are such lists and it's impoosible to get your name off them then the rcc misleads people as to how many people are really in the rcc. But, that's another topic. This is just my pet peeve I guess. But as I have said I like clean breaks. Anyway, thanks for your time. Regards, Robert B.

Tim J.

Robert -

I *believe* that what you would need to do is to contact the diocese in which you were last registered (probably the one in which you were baptized) and write a letter to the bishop making a formal declaration that you are no longer a Catholic.

If you have already done that, then you have nothing more you need to do.

BTW, nobody is handing out awards to the religion with the most adherents, so your thinking there is just - in all charity - somewhat bizarre.

Robert B

Hi Tim J.

Guess what you are right I just wrote a letter to the diocese of brooklyn. To tell them to get my nameoff the list. The only thing is, I don't know the church where I was baptized. All I know it was in brooklyn. My parents couldn't remember when I asked them years ago and my sister can't remember either. So, I guess they have to hunt it down or they should have a big general list of allthe names and just type it in the computer and it should pop up and that should be the end of that. BTW Tim the numbers thing is just something I thought about. Because I know lots of people who were baptized and don't ever go to church and I'm sure they are counted as members. Again that me. I like logical and correct things it's one of my quirks you can say. If things ain't correct in my life it just irks me ya know? And if they are not correct I like to get them that way. If I could. That's why I divorced my wife. Just fixing a mistake. Anyway, thanks again, regards, Robert B.

Robert B

Hey thanks everyone. I just typed up my letter to ( third revision) the brooklyn diocese. Even though I don't know the church i was baptized in, I'm sure they will find it. I'll mail this out tomorrow. Again thanks for trying to help. Regards, Robert B

Tim J.

Robert, you strike me as a very straightforward man, and I appreciate that. There are a lot of people who call themselves Catholic who believe almost nothing of what the Church really teaches, and that is very hypocritical, in my view. Either be a Catholic or don't, but don't play games.

Logic is a great thing. You have said a bit about what you don't believe, may I ask what you DO believe?

Karl

As another person who wanted to formally defect from the Catholic Church, and did just that, I remain heartbroken that I felt that I was compelled to do it because it was the right thing to do.

I still believe that but I remain heartbroken.

This is just my two cents and needs no reply Robert and is written without any judgement.

Thanks.

By the way, I have never actually seen what is noted on my Baptismal Certificate. For that I am glad, although I hope it does say that I have so defected.

My one hope is that God forgives me in my desperate weakness.

As a university trained twice-degreed Chemistry major and Doctor of Chiropractic I see no "proof" that God
does not exist. Either way, I see it as a matter of faith. I like logic too, but still get lost when things are convoluted. I like simplicity.

Robert B

Hi Tim J. I will tell you what I do believe. I believe in just living this life as best we can. Without influences of someone else telling us what to do, what is right and wrong. I have had christian friends and I didn't see anything different in their lives as compared to mine.

As an answer to Karl. I can see that you were some sort of catholic or christian or at least had some kind of christian education. Or you believe in god. That's why you feel heartbroken. I had no christian education or do I believe in a god. I feel nothing I am not heartbroken about leaving a church I had no ties to, to begin with. I really don't have time to waste on things I don't believe. Some people believe that Elvis is still alive and put all their energy into that. I have my life and I enjoy it. It's just finding out all these little things that I'm still attached to after my divorce. That had me thinking what else am I attached to without knowing it. That's how I came across the rcc and how to get rid of them. I do not have any contact with my ex wife, nor do I want to. Anyway, that's it in the smallest reponse I could get. Regards, Robert B.

bill912

"I believe in just living life as best we can. Without influences of someone else telling us what to do, what is right and wrong."

That's not much to aim for. Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, the Marquis de Sade, and any other monster of history you can name would have agreed with that.

bill912

"Without influences of someone else telling us what to do, what is right and wrong", how do you determine what "best" is?

Robert B

Bill, who said I was aiming for something? I just live my life,make my plans and just go with it. Naming Hitler and those guys is what? Supposed to scare me? I couldn't care less. I have no aim. I just live life. Go to work, eat, sleep, play. What more is there once you really think about it.

Regards, Robert B.

Robert B

Bill, I should have said what's best for me. What's best for me not may be best for you. It's that simple. Yes, I know we can get into a whole debate as to what's best who decides what is best yada, yada, yada. On my off time I'm gonna do whats fun for me. And it may involve things that may not be fun for other people. But, as the saying goes "To each, their own." We can get into a debate as to what fun is too! I suppose? What I love? I love a good laugh, a good drink, a good time and fun women. As I said whats fun for me may not be fun for you. It's that simple. I do what I want and I've had for lots of years. So, Bill it's that simple. Regards, Robert B.

bill912

I'm disappointed in you, Robert B. You walked right into an obvious trap. The last sentence of my first post still applies.

Robert B

Well, whatever Bill. What I'm trying to say or get across is I'm just living a lifestyle that I like. This is me. How do I determine what best is. Is this your question? Because Bill I puzzled by your last post. This is how I determine whats best or what I like for me. If I try something and I like it. I say yeah this is for me. Here's an example. I got married because I thought that was the "best" thing to do and the "best" for me. I found out though living my life that the "best" thing for me is to get a divorce. No one influenced me. I thought about it one day then called a divorce lawyer. What I found out is "Best" for me is being single. So in a nutshell how I found out whats "best" for me is to experience them through life. As they say "Life's the best teacher". And again I say I am not aiming for anything. I have no aims or "goals". I just live my life. I hope you can see that now. Again regards, Robert B.

Not listed

I'm just living a lifestyle that I like. This is me... No one influenced me.

He's loved, he's laughed and cried. He's had his fill; his share of losing. And now, as tears subside, he finds it all so amusing.

To think he did all that; And may he say - not in a shy way, no, oh no not him, he did it his way.

For what is a man, what has he got? If not himself, then he has naught. To say the things he truly feels; and not the words of one who kneels. The record shows he took the blows - and did it his way!

Tim J.

"I Did It My Way" - Hell's theme song.

Robert B

The difference is you guys are christians/catholics whatever. I am not so whats the point? All I was asking for was a way to defect from a place I am not a physical member or a believing member. Well, after a few days I found my answer and I sent a letter to the diocese of brooklyn yesterday. I live mine and you live yours. There's no point to debate.

Yes, Tim J I do it my way. Whats your point? Oh yeah, I do find it all amusing! I like the Sid Vicious version better than Franks. Cheers, Rob.

Janelle

I converted to the RCC in the 1970s, then married, had children, they were also baptized, etc....then I left when the kids were very little...the only one who has any memory of being Catholic is my oldest.

I just found out about this defection thing, where the church still counts you as one of theirs until you send a letter.

I want to send a letter on behalf of my kids too (all are still under 18)...I just don't want the church artificially inflating their numbers using me and my kids...when we have been long gone.

The thing is, I don't think me or most of my kids are even listed on the rolls of the RCC, since all of us (except my youngest) were baptized in the SSPX! My youngest was baptized in an Eastern Rite, to which we'd started attending when the SSPX left our area.

Robert B

YES! This is exactly what I'm talking about!!!!!! Even though you leave the Catholic Church and send a letter. The RCC WILL still count you was one of theirs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You never really get totally free from THEM! I would like to know how does one break totally free from the RCC with out leaving a paper trail?!?!?!?!

JoAnna

Robert -

No matter how hard you try to run from God, he's there nonetheless. :)

CT

Ed Peters wrote:

Would most (indeed, would any?) of the 16th-century Reformers have been considered to have "formally defected" from the Church under this interpretation?

To which SDG responded:

Dang! Good question! Go Ed!

IMHO, it is also a dang good question to ask if Adolf Hitler would have been considered to have "formally defected" under this new authentic, authoritative interpretation of "formal defection." I remember a previous discussion here were someone tried to tell me that the mere fact that Adolf Hitler did not seek to get any excommunication he may have incurred lifted constitutes "formal defection." Clearly it does not (neither under the non-authentic prior interpretation of canonists nor under this newer authentic and binding interpretation). I don't see why asking the question of the Reformers is "dang good" but asking it of Adolf Hitler is something that would not be of historical, ecclesial, theological, or human interest.

I actually think I read this authentic interpretation but I had forgotten it.

Having been reminded of it again, it actually sounds eminently reasonable itself. I don't think anything "new" is created in the interpretation; rather something implicit in the law is now made explicit. Since that which was implicit was uncertain, I do agree with the conclusion that JA makes as to retroactivity. I think the authentic interpretation has a subtle theology that underlies it.

I also believe that the notion of "formal defection" whatever the history or lack thereof of the term, as a concept, is something of theological significance as opposed to mere arbitrary or utilitarian legal creation.

To formally defect (in the sense coinciding with this authentic interpretation) I would argue (given the truth of Catholicism), is something of metaphysical significance -- it changes the way the formal defector is or is related to others prescinding from its legal effects. So even if the legal introduction had never taken place, I would argue, formal defection (coinciding again with the concept in the authentic interpretation), would entail a change in the state of being or state of relatedness of a person.

In terms of secular law, this interpretation given by the Vatican, may be problematic. Unlike, Ed Peters, I am not a lawyer, but as I understand it -- I don't recall if this is federally or in other jursidictions -- some courts have ruled that a church cannot do certain things with respect to someone who has communicated to the church his wish to be no part of it that the church could ordinarily do with respect to ordinary members. So if a Catholic bishop decides to not receive and recognize the formal defection of someone who has communicated it to him and proceeds to engage in problematic actions that wouldn't be with respect to members, the church could face legal jeopardy. One particular court case I recall along these lines involved the Mormon church IIRC ... in any case it involved some issue of discipline. I wonder how a secular court would rule on a case should one ever be considered apt for adjudication, of a Catholic bishop who imposes a canonical penalty on someone who has already expressed his wish to no longer be Catholic but who is not recognized as having formally defected.

In theory, I believe the church reserves the right to enact legislation affecting not only Catholics but any baptized person. This exemption did not even exist previously. Ex-Catholics were still subject to the marriage requirement IIRC.

There are other potential collisions between canon law and secular law. Even Ed Peters in one of his old blog posts acknowledged it. This was a post IIRC dealing with an issue related to the child abuse crisis and some legal clarification of Ed Peters made of a church law or legal document. Some European clergymen have asserted a bishop-priest privilege, that bishops should not be forced by secular authorities to reveal confidential communications between them and their priests. One social threat of Catholicism lies in its claim to be an authority, including a legal authority, on par with the State, albeit with different orientations. In the Catholic Encyclopedia, it even states that in cases of true conflict where things cannot be worked out, the authority of the Church must override that of the State. That is a dangerous religious ideology; it is the setting up of a parallel govt. It is sociologically analagous to militias.

Sleeping Beastly

I'm bummed that I missed a chance to respond to Robert B sooner. Rob, if you're still reading:

You ask two questions:
Why can't everything be final?
Why can't there be clean breaks?

The reason there can be no clean breaks is because every moment is final. You can defect, but you can't get unbaptized. You can get divorced, but you can't get unmarried. Every day you get older. Every time you cut yourself, you can heal, but you will scar. Everything you touch has its course altered by that touch, and everything that touches you alters your course in some way as well. That's what it is to live. You dance with all of creation, and you will never, ever dance alone or be able to recapture or erase any of your old steps, either from your life, or from the lives of others, or from the world itself.

If you do try to erase your past, there are two possibilities:

-A false record will be blank, just as you wish, but it will be false.
-A true record will show the initial event, as well as your subsequent attempt to erase that event.

Sleeping Beastly

CT,
You wrote:
In the Catholic Encyclopedia, it even states that in cases of true conflict where things cannot be worked out, the authority of the Church must override that of the State. That is a dangerous religious ideology; it is the setting up of a parallel govt. It is sociologically analagous to militias.

That's more or less correct. It's one of the reasons Protestant America used to be so wary of Catholics. (JFK did a lot to change that.)

For the record, if the Church's claims are true, and a human government is in conflict with those claims, then the human government is wrong, and it is appropriate to resist that government in a reasonable and proportionate manner. I don't find that ideology dangerous at all. What I would find more dangerous is an ideology that insisted on obedience to human authority, whether that authority was objectively right or wrong.

Also, I think we all owe a lot to the militias of this country. I think they have served, and continue to serve, as a check against tyranny. I think they're part of the reason no foreign power has attempted to land troops on our soil, and part of the reason our own government is hesitant to tick us off too much.

The Masked Chicken

Ed can correct me if I am wrong in my analysis, but there are a few points I would like to make about the application of this interpretation of formal defection to historical matters.

1. According to both the 1983 and 1917 CIC:

Can. 9 Laws regard the future, not the past, unless they expressly provide for the past. [1983]

Can.10. Leges respiciunt futura, non praeterita, nisi nominatim in eis de praeteritis caveatur. [1917]

Thus, neither the 1917 code or the 1983 code are germane to the issue of how the original Protestant Reformers would have been judged, regarding formal defection. Each generation of law has the right to interpret itself, historical interpretations being taken into consideration.

Since the issue of the norms for formal defection have only been specified recently (2006), taking can. 9 and can. 16 §2 into account, this matter of the Reformers is moot. They were not bound to follow a future code of canon law. They were bound to the laws of their times (which, in practice, contained many of the same principles, in nascent form), those being the post-Decretal/Tridentine period of law.

During those periods, no such written notification of defection was required. The canons of Trent do not mention anything having been to be made in writing to require that someone had formally defected. I don't know the entire history of canon law, but certainly, a trial of some sort to ascertain the facts before canonical action with regards to formal defection could be imposed seems likely, even if a formal notification in writing by the individual were not give, so there would have been at least some attempt to get at the mind of the person, both by statement and actions in an open forum.

Thus, I would suspect that the canonical status of the original Reformers would not be changed by this clarification, since Trent certainly had them in mind when they stated their anathemas. Later Protestants, who had an additional debt of culture, history, and education to overcome, would have probably been less likely to have been considered formally defecting, since their faith formation was, itself, defective (defectus contra defectio, if you will).

As to Hitler, he was under the 1917 Code. He did not get his excommunication lift, therefore, he died outside of the Church. This is a de facto defection even if it is not a formal defection, since the effect is the same - to remove someone from communion with the Church.

As to the metaphysical change in status, a clarifying document,

Actus Formalis Defectionis ab Ecclesia Catholica
Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts
Vatican City, 13 March 2006

Prot. N. 10279/2006,

states:

7. It remains clear, in any event, that the sacramental bond of belonging to the Body of Christ that is the Church, conferred by the baptismal character, is an ontological and permanent bond which is not lost by reason of any act or fact of defection.

As to the matter of Church/state standings - they involve different domains of authority, which happen to coincide within the sphere of actions. Simply put: render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar's; render unto God what is God's. No time to explain more. Must go.


The Chicken


Tim J.

CT, your dogged attempts to try and retro-fit Hitler as a card-carrying Catholic are disgusting, and very telling.

When it comes to your own beliefs, you seem very comfortable with being only reasonably certain, but when it comes to the claims of religion (and Christianity in particular) you become a logical positivist.

So, you (somewhat triumphantly) assert that it can't be logically *proven* that Hitler WASN'T a Catholic... though to any reasonable person he clearly wasn't.

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