Dear Msgr. XXXXX,
I am hereby formally defecting from the Catholic Church and request an execution of the Actus Formalis Defectionis Ab Ecclesia Catholica for myself to begin this process in accordance with canons 1086, 1117 and 1174 of the Code of Canon law as well as notification Prot. N. 10279/2006 from the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts (PCLT).
This request is being made by me personally, freely and consciously in order to sever all bonds of Catholic communion—faith, sacraments, and pastoral governance. This process shall be configured as my true separation from the constitutive elements of the life of the Church as a willful act of apostasy of my part.
I am providing herein all necessary information with an explanation for my decision.
I was born on , 19 at __Hospital. I attended the following Catholic schools: __ (1972-79), _(1979-81) and St.__ (1981-84) in_. I am not in possession of any original church documents, but parish records should indicate the exact date of my sacraments: baptism (Spring 1968), first communion (Spring 1975) and confirmation (Spring 1980).
I have chosen to leave the Catholic Church for two simple reasons:
1. I am homosexual; and
2. I am an atheist.
I have not considered myself to be Catholic for over 20 years and have been an atheist for the last 10 of those years. I arrived at this conclusion after many years of study, observation, research and introspection.
This long-overdue request stems from a Catholic wedding I attended a few years ago. The priest used this private family event as a political pulpit to preach about the sin of gay marriage and divorce, which was highly upsetting to many of us. As one of the gay ‘sinners’, I declined communion, as I have done for many years at such events. When questioned about this by a church member, I defended my actions by stating that I did not want to be hypocritical. He, in turn, pointed out that I will always be a Catholic due to my baptism, regardless of my personal beliefs and choices. That did not sit well with me and I decided to formally cut all ties to the church.
I am motivated to proceed now after a year of unsettling actions and outrageous statements from the church, such as the Pope’s dangerous comments on condom use and AIDS, the church’s disgusting opposition to the New York State Child Victim legislation, or the current inquisition of American Nuns regarding their personal views on homosexuality.
The Pope offers simplistic political solutions to complex human questions and sadly, many still obey him out of fear or ignorance. He manipulates billions with his power and remains unaccountable to anyone on this planet—an imaginary divine being in the sky above it doesn’t count! To me, this is a deeply unsettling proposition because its awful consequences are very real to people around the world.
He would rather see people die of AIDS than examine his own church’s doctrine in a modern context. He would rather protect church wealth in New York State than heal the pain caused by widespread child abuse and its . He would rather invade the privacy of 59,000 Nuns than address the sex crimes of his priests.
Playing on our deepest existential fears and insecurities, the church uses faith to engage the weak across the planet, knowing that its followers are being duped. All this to maintain influence and control in a dynamic, changing world. Voltaire summed it up best when he said “those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” This is tyranny of the worst kind. How can any decent, thinking person accept such cruel intellectual and emotional domination? I cannot.
The Vatican is unstoppable in spreading fear, hatred and lies by using insidious tactics and disquieting messages. I want no part of it and now I need to ensure that I am permanently removed from any association with this church and its hateful politics, forever.
I have chosen not to believe in the unbelievable to get through my life, just as others have chosen faith to get through theirs. Faith is actually a more dangerous thing because while it may offer delusive comfort to some, it leads others to fly airplanes into buildings.
Please do not construe any part of this letter as argumentum ad hominem. You have just as much right to believe as I have not to believe. Nevertheless, I offer the following personal declarations which clarify my commitment to this liberating personal milestone, for the record:
I do not believe that any god or afterlife exists, and will not live my life as if they did.
I hereby reject all of the dogmata and official teachings of roman catholicism.
I renounce all blessings, benefits, graces, sanctifications and advantages supposedly conferred on me by the church or by any religious act done by me, to me or on my behalf with or without my informed consent, in the past, present or future.
I condemn as monstrous the idea of original sin, and renounce any and all baptismal rituals done on my behalf to wash it away.
I reject the sacramental bond of belonging to the body of Christ that is the church, conferred by the baptismal character, and I strongly refute any claim or acceptance of this as an ontological and permanent bond.
I reject as absurd the idea of an atoning sacrifice and spurn its presumed benefits.
I reject as preposterous the concept of a virgin giving birth and Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, both of which violate all laws of nature, physics, chemistry and biology as well as common sense.
I do believe that a charismatic man named Jesus could have walked the earth, and deduct that he was an enlightened, extremely empathetic figure who preached the power of love and whose message could be stated simply as “Do no harm”.
I reject any claims to his “divinity” and would wager that he either had some form of mental illness or access to powerful dissociative substances.
I do not believe in any form of anthropomorphic divinity that
a) created the world from nothing;
b) maintains a sense of responsibility to that creation; and
c) requires constant praise and adoration from that creation.
I oppose the anthropocentric view of life that religions promote. When you say “god created the universe for man”, I say “the universe created ‘god’ as a concept to help man process the terrifying truth that we just don’t matter to the universe”. The universe is as ignorant of us as any other piece of space dust and cares not whether we propagate and fill it up or extinguish in a nuclear blast. We are insignificant and that is what makes human life on earth so important.
I believe the universe is just a fascinating
yet meaningless accident with an evolving, emerging, poetic structure for us to study and enjoy. It can only be understood and accepted as such and by those who abandon the limits of faith and fear and give in to the very profound logic it embodies.
I do not believe that any book written by man can be divinely inspired or the direct word of god. The only true inspiration is imagination and the bible has plenty of that. I enjoy it as a great work of literature and is a fascinating anthology of historical fiction, nothing more. I know that such a work reflects the culture and society of its own time, in which illiterate nomadic tribes suffered under repressive and corrupt theocracies. I cannot follow such ancient rules to guide my life today.
I reject the idea of praying as a solution to real-life problems and find its use an insult to thinking, able-bodied people. I believe that prayer is used by the church as a manifestation of false hope, a means of distraction and a tool of oppression. Call it what it is: ‘meditation’. Being truly alone in the universe with my thoughts, without the clutter and confusion of an imaginary divine voice is the most liberating place to be. Perhaps this is horror to a believer, but to me, this solitude is ecstasy.
I don’t give thanks to a deity but I do thank scientists, artists, doctors, soldiers, entrepreneurs, writers, firemen and others who have made the world a better place simply because they care about humanity.
I do not believe in miracles or divine intervention.
I resent seeing a bible next to my bed in every hotel room across the country.
I believe that there is cause for concern when insurance companies refer to natural disasters with the legal term “acts of god” and yet refuse to pay up because they cannot prove god’s existence. Isn’t faith a more perverse form of insurance?
I firmly reject the church’s archaic and irrelevant teachings on
a) birth control;
b) the role of women;
c) homosexuality; and
d) priestly celibacy (we all know where that leads, regardless of sexual orientation).
I actively support organizations that promote sexual education and family planning through artificial contraception. I support the right of every woman to decide for herself what medical option is best regarding her body and pregnancy, including abortion.
I strongly support the promotion of condom use as a proven means of reducing the risk of pregnancy and sexual transmitted infections, including HIV.
I support same-gender marriage because I understand and believe that:
a) consenting adults have the inalienable right to partner as they see fit;
b) marriage is first and foremost a legal arrangement designed to protect shared interests and bonds from external forces such as the church or the state; and
c) we are supposed to love one another, even the bible tells us this.
(Note: I would like to add to Pierre Trudeau’s statements on these matters: “There’s no place for the state [or the church] in the bedrooms of the nation”, and, “what’s done in private between adults doesn’t concern the Criminal Code [or the church]”).
I believe that assisted suicide is an acceptable, feasible option for anyone of sound mind who wants to stop suffering in pain. I support organizations such as the Hemlock Society which has the courage to stand up for the rights of these individuals.
I strongly support stem cell research and I find the church’s stance to be yet another example of its irrational fear of scientific inquiry. Should a Catholic mother reject a life-saving treatment for her dying baby if that treatment came out of stem cell research? What would it mean to the church if she chose her faith over her child?
As a principled and reasonable individual, I refuse to be counted any longer as an adherent of Catholic politics and beliefs, which continue to do irreparable harm to humanity and with which I profoundly disagree. I consider these beliefs to be an irrational superstition at best, and a cruel, destructive force at worst.
For these reasons, I hereby request to be officially unbaptized and excommunicated as soon as possible, to have my name removed from all church accounts, to provide that this act be noted in the baptismal registry (cfr. can. 535, § 2) with explicit mention of the occurrence of a “defectio ab Ecclesia catholica actu formali” and to record that I am no longer a member of the Catholic church according to the PCLT. I want no association whatsoever with this church for the rest of my life and expect these wishes to be honoured.
Should you require further information to proceed, please advise accordingly.
I look forward to receiving official confirmation of this action at your earliest convenience. Should I not hear from you within 2 months, I will contact you by telephone.