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Thomas Hillman wrote:

Hi, guys —

Good Morning.

I am a former Catholic. I was baptized in 1960 shortly after I was born and confirmed in 1971.

In 1995, I converted to Unitarian Universalism, a religious faith I greatly respect. I stopped practicing Catholicism while I was in high school in the mid-70's.

  • I would like to renounce my Baptism and Confirmation.

I'm not a fan of infant baptism as I feel the infant does not have the choice to pick for [him/herself] and my Confirmation was more under duress as my parents were forcing me to go through that ceremony.

I fully understand that my conversion to Unitarian Universalism constitutes an act of apostasy and is considered an automatic excommunication.

Thank you!

Thomas Hillman

  { What is the process for renouncing my Baptism and Confirmation? }

Eric replied:

Thomas —

  • Do you have any particular goal in mind in doing this?

Theologically, you are eternally marked with the seal of Baptism and Confirmation and there is no way to erase that.

Canonically (i.e. according to Church law) there is no way to leave the Catholic church; once a Catholic, always a Catholic. It's like a family; the bonds are always there.

The only possible gain you could have is emotional catharsis. I can't rule out that they might be kind enough to note your protest on your baptismal record if you wrote the parish where you were baptized but, again this wouldn't, from the Church's standpoint, mean anything to anyone but you.

Eric

Thomas replied:

Thank you for responding.

I basically have long since converted to another faith and have absolutely no desire to return to the Church — therefore I want closure to that part of my past.

I realize that I have been basically excommunicated since I no longer recognize the Church as a position of authority and belong to another faith.

Thomas

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Thomas,

There is a process for renouncing one's faith. It does not erase your Baptism because it is a historical fact and we Catholics believe that Baptism forever changes you. For example, if you decide to renounce your faith and then some day regret that and come back, we would not Baptize you again, we would accept you back as a family member. Family is a good analogy actually, one could renounce one's family but they are still your family.

So with that in mind, it is a threefold process:

  1. It has to be evident that it is your choice and no one else's.
  2. You commit an act of heresy, schism, or apostasy (i.e. join another Church with the thought that you are leaving the Catholic Church, or write a letter that expresses your denial of an essential truth of the faith)
  3. This must be accepted by a competent authority in the Catholic Church. This would be either your Bishop or your territorial pastor.

Once these three things happen, a note is placed in your Baptism record that says that you renounced your faith.

These notes are written in pencil usually, because, as I said you can come back, when you are ready, to full Communion and we will accept you.

Fr. Jonathan
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