Saturday, 25 March 2017


Formal act of defection from the Catholic Church
formal act of defection from the Catholic Church (Latin actus formalis defectionis ab Ecclesia catholica) was an externally provable juridic act of departure from the Catholic Church, which was recognized from 1983 to 2010 in the Code of Canon Law as having certain juridical effects enumerated in canons 1086, 1117 and 1124. The concept of "formal" act of defection was narrower than that of "notorious" (publicly known) defection recognized in the 1917 Code of Canon Law[ and still narrower than the concept of "de facto" defection. In 2006, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts specified in what a formal act of defection from the Catholic Church consisted. In 2009, all mention of a formal act of defection from the Catholic Church and of any juridical effects deriving from it was removed from the Code.
Procedure from 2006 to 2009
Between 1983 and 2006, the Catholic Church in Germany and some other countries treated as a formal act of defection from the Catholic Church the declaration that some made to the civil authorities for the purpose of avoiding the extra tax traditionally collected by the state for the benefit of whatever Church the tax-payer was a member of. The Church in those countries considered people who made this declaration as no longer entitled to the privileges of membership of the Church, such as having a wedding in church.
The 2006 notification ruled that such declarations did not necessarily indicate a decision to abandon the Church in reality. It laid down that only the competent bishop or parish priest was to judge whether the person genuinely intended to leave the Church through an act of apostasyheresy, or schism. It also pointed out that single acts of apostasy, heresy or schism (which can be repented) do not necessarily involve also a decision to leave the Church, and so "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."
The notification required therefore that the decision to leave the Church had to be manifested personally, consciously and freely, and in writing, to the competent Church authority, who was then to judge whether it was genuinely a case of "true separation from the constitutive elements of the life of the Church ... (by) an act of apostasy, heresy or schism."
If the bishop or parish priest decided that the individual had indeed made a formal act of defection from the Catholic Church – making a decision on this matter would normally require a meeting with the person involved – the fact of this formal act was to be noted in the register of the person's baptism. This annotation, like other annotations in the baptismal register, such as those of marriage or ordination, was unrelated to the fact of the baptism: it was not a "debaptism" (a term sometimes used journalistically): the fact of having been baptized remained a fact, and the Catholic Church holds that baptism marks a person with a seal or character that "is an ontological and permanent bond which is not lost by reason of any act or fact of defection".
The motu proprio Omnium in mentem of 26 October 2009 removed from the canons in question all reference to an act of formal defection from the Catholic Church. Accordingly, "it is no longer appropriate to enter attempts at formal defection in the sacramental records since this juridic action is now abolished. 
In late August 2010, the Holy See confirmed that it was no longer possible to defect formally from the Catholic Church. However, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin declared on 12 October 2010 that it intended to keep a register of those who expressed the wish to defect. Since this fell short of making an annotation in the baptismal register, CountMeOut (an association in the archdiocese that had been promoting formal defections from the Catholic Church) thereupon ceased to provide defection forms.

Although the act of "formal defection" from the Catholic Church has thus been abolished, public or "notorious" (in the canonical sense) defection from the Catholic faith or from the communion of the Church is of course possible, as is expressly recognized in the Code of Canon Law. Even defection that is not known publicly is subject to the automatic spiritual penalty of excommunication laid down in canon 1364 of the Code of Canon Law.

The Vatican Blocks the Exit
Reader Eoin recently commented on an Ask Richard post from last February dealing with a question about officially leaving the Catholic Church. Eoin brings to our attention the fact that the Vatican has suspended all processing of individual acts of formal defection from the RCC.
The Irish website Count Me Out has been providing information, guidance and access to the forms needed for people wanting to file a “Declaration of Defection.” They report:
In April of this year, the Catholic Church modified the Code of Canon Law to remove all references to the act of formal defection, the process used by those who wish to formally renounce their membership of the Church.
This resolution, dubbed “Omnium in Mentem” apparently puts all applicants who have filed but have been waiting a long time for any response, into church bureaucratic limbo. Because there are many questions left unanswered, Count Me Out has temporarily suspended all further creation of Declarations of Defection via their website, starting October 12, 2010.
Assuming that “Omnium in Mentem” invalidates the concept of formal defection, the Church no longer deems that an act of defection changes a person’s relationship with the Catholic Church; instead the annotation of the baptismal register becomes merely an administrative task.
Whatever the hell “an administrative task” means.
Count Me Out offers some insight about the backqround of this action by the RCC, and some advice concerning the possible ramifications. They speculate on the reasons why the Vatican has done this, focusing on the confusion caused by making certain exceptions to canon law regarding defections pertaining to marriage. It’s confusing to even read their explanation.
I have three simpler and perhaps more cynical ideas about the Vatican’s motives, but I don’t pretend to know for certain. I’m offering them here to stimulate a discussion, and I ask readers who have more experience and insight about this to correct me and/or add their own ideas:
1.       It will save them a lot of embarrassment. Having this official procedure forces them to individually acknowledge each one of the growing numbers of people who are dissatisfied, disappointed or even disgusted with the Church, and each Declaration of Defection is a powerful public demonstration of both their failure as an institution and the power of their members to defy them.
2.      It will save them a lot of work. People are informally leaving the Church in stampedes lately. If more and more of them want to have official documents to formally and finally signify and certify that, the Vatican will need a new clerical staff as big as the Internal Revenue Service.
3.      Most importantly, it will save them a lot of money. In several countries, the Catholic Church gets government subsidies for various activities and services. The amount of taxpayer money they get depends on their claim of how many people are Catholics in those countries. Unless I’m wrong, I think they use Baptismal records rather than church attendance census, since the numbers will always be larger. Without the Declarations of Defection, there won’t be documents that can be used to discredit their claims of having large numbers of adherents.
So if you want to leave the Roman Catholic Church, you can no longer get them to officially acknowledge and document your exit out the door. You can go, but you’ll have to climb out the window. They don’t want to know about it.


Most Catholics had no say in their becoming members of the Catholic Church. They were brought to be baptised as babies.

Then they were confirmed as school children and again they had no say.

Of course this is no problem if you are happy about being a Roman Catholic.

But if you are NOT HAPPY there should be a formal WAY OUT for you.

To refuse to let people is to behave like a CULT. Cults never let people leave voluntarily.

For a number of years the Vatican did allow people to register defection. But then they found it lost them money and they stopped it.

Now they want to trap you for life - and indeed eternity!

What do readers think about this?


  1. @Pat is there no news from Maynooth or Rome? No gay clergy stories anymore? Have they all been silenced? Wither the deacons?

    1. We're gagging for more.

  2. MourneManMichael25 March 2017 at 01:25

    This is very interesting, and revealing!
    From having been a cleric within a year of ordination in 1969, I've 'drifted' in the 1970's initially into non attendance/involvement in the RC church, and subsequently simply ignored the attendance, ritual and observances of the RC church. Perhaps then being outside of the tribal/cultural demands of remaining in Ireland was a factor in this. So I remained in this 'non-aligned' position for some considerable time.
    Over the last 10+ years, and more so since returning home, I've thought a lot and read copiously about the RC church, its 'modus operandi', the origins of christianity and how its biblical dependence simply does not "stand up" to any analytical independent objective analysis.
    In consequence, especially since starting to understand a humanist perspective and coming to understand that the reality of continuing belief in the mythology of much of christianity is just so incomprehensible, ludicrous and ridiculous that it defies any logical, intelligent or sensible analysis or explanation.
    Having said that, I do acknowledge that the basic 'message' of christianity is indeed valid inasmuch as it's aspirations are derived from much older core belief systems of how we should relate to each other. This is the Golden Rule, and is enunciated in the Christian New Testament as "Do as you would be done by".
    So, having 'departed' any affiliation or involvement with the RC church very many years ago, I read this blog with a certain amusement. I view it as yet another attempted "control-measure" so pervasive in the thinking of of those in the RC hierarchy and its canon lawyers who are so unbelieveably out of touch as to still believe they can still exert control over an obedient laity.
    The 'game is up' chaps. Most of us have 'taken our ball home' and simply won't play by your rules anymore.

    1. MMM I can only comment that Jesus is a human God. His "management committees" through the ages,well that's another story

    2. Though it is true other religions teach the golden rule, as Christians hold all authority must come from God, Christians are to follow the rule because God says so. It is about the motivation to obey God.

    3. MMM, was there anything in particular that made you lose your faith? I dare to ask since you, on at least one occasion, asked me to justify my faith in God.

      I know that my relationship with Christ has sometimes, for fairly long periods, been extremely difficult. There were times when I thought the very idea of a loving, caring God a big fat crock of brown stuff. And I didn't just think it; I felt it. But I always, eventually, gravitated back to relationship with him, not because I feared his wrath, but because beyond and deeper than my anger (at times, rage) at him, there was the inexplicable, seemingly irrational assurance that all really was well and that he, God, was intimately involved in my life.

  3. It is likely that 'Actus Formalis', previously permitted in the Code of Canon Law as a purely juridic (or administrative) act, was abolished in 2009 by Pope Benedict because the act may not always have betokened a genuine defection from the Church on theological and/or doctrinal grounds. German Catholics, for instance, to avoid paying statutory Church tax (8 or 9% of their income AFTER state-deducted tax) could, under public law, renounce their membership of the Church purely to avoid paying the tax and not necessarily because they had rejected Church teachings. However, until Benedict abolished 'Actus Formalis' motu propio ('on his own initiative') in 2009, the Church had always accepted such renunciation as de facto 'Actus Formalis' when, indeed, it might have been nothing of the kind.

    There is, therefore, prima facie reason to give benefit of doubt, on this occasion at least, to Pope Benedict that he acted justly (with regard to his fellow countrymen, at any rate) and not to inflate membership figures of the Church, either to maintain its income, or (cult-like) to prevent Catholics from formally leaving it as before.

    1. MC - I believe German church tax is 8 or 9% of INCOME TAX, not of INCOME. So, in reality, a lot less (more like 1-2% of income)
      Cheap at the price!

    2. 12:38, you may be right about the base sum from which Church tax is calculated, but my source differs. According to 'The Telegraph', the 8 or 9% is calculated on the basis of income, not income tax. Either way, the payment is morally wrong, because it should be voluntary, not compulsory.

      Germans, if they object in principle just to the tax, are forced into the public charade (lie) of renouncing membership of the Church, in order to avoid paying the tax. But the pastoral consequence of this could be very serious: denial of admission to the sacraments, including the Eucharist.

      As for your plaudit ('cheap at the price!'), the only thing cheap here is your flippancy. The 8 or 9% rate of Church tax is to be (perhaps already has been) extended to profit from capital gains. Many Germans, especially the elderly, are worried about the impact this may have on their savings.

      Personally, I think the price for this ecclesiastical mercinariness is a cost no one should have to pay.

  4. Wow Pat. You really are leading souls into the fires of hell.

    1. No he's not he is only enlightening the stupid sheep in the flock that they have man made rites. The church is full of man's law but God's Love, it goes without saying however that the man side of the relationship has gone out of its way to be self centred on it's own earthly power base than that of the relationship with the almighty.

      The sheep need to know.

  5. The church is different to a club or organization in that it has one foot in the physical and one foot in the spiritual. The spiritual can not be controlled by legislation. Laws keep people on a leash at times and have their place. Church law looses its purpose when people are stunted by it's curtailing genuine personal and spiritual growth and expressions. Many churches treated people like slaves in the past. Some have learned to let go. Some are still learning and some will never learn. A church should be a servant of the love of God not an enforcer. Think of all the blog contributors Pat. Would you class them as servants enforcers or something else. As tomorrow is mother's day Prayers and good wishes to mums everywhere

    1. Yes Sean a a foot in the spiritual but never let the physical get near the spiritual.
      I think we can all agree that there needs to be guide lines, laws, rules etc but when it blatantly sets out a mans devined inspiration of rules the NOPE NADDA ,don't get that other that it smacking of dictatorship.


  6. More anti-Catholic blogs. You really love us really! Get a life of your own. I am a very happy Catholic.

    1. We exactly is it anti catholic it is more like anti repression that these Irish Religious Dictatorships that call themselves Catholic and Roman Catholic have went out of the way to ignore the teachings of any Pope never mind to subdue the implementation of the Vatican II council which leaves this green sod in the dark ages.
      To the likes of you who say this is anti catholic would rather bow and kiss the arse of all Irish clergy formats that see the truth in the repressive nature of the irish church so named roman Catholic. As Francis said recently is better to be an athiest than a bad Catholic and I personally believe him to be right no matter what Catholic family you belong too.
      By the way I feel this blog has similarities to a family and families corect each other hopefully out of LOVE.

    2. There is good and bad in the church. Our priest is excellent. Some suffer from creeping infallibility and are fond of mental reservation. Some laity think all priests and bishops are saints. They are a mixed bunch....much like the rest of us.

    3. Big Hank, when I say that this blog is anti-Catholic I mean that it presents nothing but the negative side of my Church. There is a positive side to. In fact it is so positive that the author has refused to move out of our properties (how many years have you refused to move put of our Church property now?)

      Again you quote Pope Francis in a 'fake news' story - fits this blog all the same, 'fake news'!

      If tomorrow the blog is about something in the Protestant Church then I stand corrected that this blog is anti-Christian, but I stand by my comment, it is anti-Catholic!

    4. Just to add a bit of balance, the Anglican church in our village has had it's problems. If you google "Freckleton vicar" you will see what I mean.

  7. It is so very sad to see this once interesting and challenging blog now taken over by opinionated and imbecilic individuals. This morning 90 percent of the posts are from Sean Page (whoever the hell he is); Magna Carta [sic] and Big Hank (is he for real?). Whatsmore they are not posting comments congratulating one another for their moronic musings. Bishop Pat I have pleaded with you on several occasions about allowing comments from these low life to appear on your blog - to no avail. It seems that your admirable desire to allow free speech has clouded your judgement. Now this has become their blog, not yours. Who knows, they may well even be priests who have decided to destroy your blog, internally, if you like, by posting in such a way that totally alienates your core group of followers. They could be double agents in that sense. So, with a very heavy heart Bishop Pat, this is my last contribution to your excellent Blog. I have followed you from the very start and I write to tell you that I will be following you no more. They have taken it over. You have allowed them too - leave the dead to bury their dead. I can well imagine that the day is not to far away when the only comments will be from them. Good work, i'd say. What totally dreadful people they are. Destroyers.

    1. I know Sean Page for years. He was a priest in Sligo, is now left and is married and is preparing for a non paying role as an Anglican priest.

      Big Hank is not a priest but a lay member of a Down and Connor parish.

      Magna Carta I do not think I have met? I thought his comment today was rational and good?

      Mournemanmichael was a seminarian in Maynooth in the 1960s and is now a humanist and talks a lot of sense.

    2. Is thur sumthin' wrong w' you? Yer an obsessive! Lave ma wane aloan!! Get over yerself, y' whining, self-absorbed jerk. Yer makin' a laughin'-stock o' yerself! Ha ha ha

      Magna Carta's Oul Da

      P.S. Ma wane's not sick. He's in the rudest of rude health. So thur!

    3. Magna Carta,
      Difficult as I find your various musings, the most annoyinng is the Ha, Ha, Ha stuff. You did promise to cease this donkey Ha, Ha, hawing - please do!!!

    4. Excuuuuse me,14:19! Don't blame me for that; blame my oul da.

    5. 14:19, just had a 'l'esprit de l'escalier' moment, but it's now gone. Er, you find my musings 'difficult'? How?

    6. 11.34 I'm sure you're a lovely person in real life whoever the hell you are and when the time comes may you be in heaven half an hour before the 😈 knows you're dead.

    7. P S Pat you do not have to justify any of your posters. Your wise judgement tells you what to allow or disallow. If people can not accept this.....

    8. I cannot find Sean Page (of manchester) in crockfords. Are you sure he's an authorised Church of England minister?

  8. Thanks pat this is exactly what I've been looking for :-)

  9. Is it truly amazing that people believe me to be something that I'm not.

    If something is wrong you have to say it and not just accept it. I'm glad that people attack me though its always good to know your place in society.

    It would have beem so easy to put up anonymous as a posting name but that is too cowardly.

    +Pat did you get that Facebook song about Jesus being a Nigger?

  10. I'd have to correct though +Bishop Patrick for the record I am not a Lay member of a Down and Connor parish, might use the facilities for occasion to pray but I'm afraid being or having membership of anything to do with Down & Conor is not going to happen or be returned to anytime soon.

  11. I think the N word used by Big Hank at 15.19 is deeply offensive and could constitute a race crime. We don't want the PSNI involved again, I'm only kindly advising.

    1. I agree but ministers in America beg to differ. They sing about Jesus being their Nigger. I too might find it very offensive if you knew the color of my skin. As for PSNI yoyr having a laugh considering the racial hatred that goes on in this country between professing Christians.

  12. 14 out of 23 comments from these morons. What more needs to be said!

    1. I'm not being facetious when I say this, but you need to speak to someone, because you have issues.

  13. So Hank you would use membership of the dioceses for sacraments for your children
    funerals of relatives
    But not to participate In the church weekly services , or give financial

  14. "Gorgeous" in Belfast today shopping...

    1. ... buying a extra large tube of KY presumably. He loves it.

    2. He can’t help having sensitive parts.

    3. 23:00, can't you be serious, even for a fleeting moment?

  15. My children's faith is a matter for them, as for funerals and payment to the up keep of the Roman Catholic church I believe that is a matter for my conscience and nothing to do with the likes of you, My children make thier own contributions without any interference from me or the likes of you.

    I believe I have paid enough and more than some. But if you cannot be Christian enough to me then make no comment personnally about me. But just like I wouldn't go into any restaurant and ask for water without paying, I certainly wouldnt go into and church catholic or otherwise and not pay for services rendered. After all the labourers deserve their just reward. Now if you want to know about contributions to funerals well I'm not embarassed to say I paid each Minister for their time.

    You are of course welcome to make as many general comments as you like about people like me but you do not have the right to make personal crictism to me. As for funerals even the bad popes bishops (Casey) Priests (Smith) and the likes of the late Martin all got Christian burials and rightly so.

    Another point to make to such an obnoxious person such as your self, is I may be the father of these Catholic children but they also have a wonderful mother as mentioned earlier and I never interfere with her wishes for her children and before you as she gives more than her fare share to the Roman church.

    If your trying to say thst I shouldn't dawn any church door to pray to God then you are truly the evil one.

    1. Shouldn't you have written "If you're trying to say..."

      Why can people still not distinguish between the ownership "your" and "you're" which is the shortened form of "you are". It's not that difficult surely!

  16. It seems the church tax is 8-9% of income tax and there are historic reasons for its existence in Germany.
    My source for this is which is also the source for this quote:
    'More than 181,000 German Catholics left the Church in 2010 and a further 126,000 the following year, reducing the total number to 24.47 million in a total population of 82 million. The declining congregations have alarmed German bishops since the tax brings in billions for the Roman Catholic Church each year.'

    It is a pity there is no canonical way of renouncing the RC Church with its corruption and greed, although of course these days anyone can publish anything they like on the internet.

    Speaking of which, criticising people for frequent posting here and calling them names such as 'lowlife' remains bullying pure and simple. Pat I am pleased you have finally made an answer to this.

    Now wait for someone to swear at me.

    Magna Carta, would you mind if I came out in sympathy by signing all my comments, 'Magna Carta? ' confusing, I know, but that's the point.

  17. Hank, I don't know why you replied like that to me.
    I was just asking you a question in response to what you told Pat on the post at 15 29
    I had understood that anyone could comment to any post on here.
    I've been posting on forums for 15 years and never ever got a response like that before.
    As a 78 year old widow and being there and wore the tee seems I'm still learning much about people on the net.

  18. Pat , Hank at 19.51 has been extremely rude to me in his reply, I know you know him as you have posted
    What I want to know it permissible for posters to be so rude to others, even if we post most do...I only posed a question to his post about using church facilities,
    I'm not really into religion or church going as in feeling I must go , but I'm truly shocked by the way Hank typed to me.
    Do you allow and approve. ?????? Or do u not really care how posters are replied to here.
    I do follow you and read most days and post far too often....but Tbh I haven't a clue what today's blog is about...I didn't bother to read it as it way beyond what I've an interest in

  19. Pat, why are you hounding and harassing these men? Is what you are alleging they are doing much different from what you yourself have done and are? You made a commitment to celibacy before diaconate. Give them time and they may hit on your 'solution.' Do you not see how hypocritical it is for you to be hounding these people?

  20. How arrogant of the church to more or less feel they "own" people.

    But it does show the core truth of oncr a catholic always a catholic.

    But I reject that

    In 2006, I left. Period. And I am vocal about it and will continue to be.

    I AM an irish polytheistic pagan. I have irish deities. Many of whom the church tried to make saints���� because the people would not leave them. Such as Brighid. Goddess of fire, healing, inspiration.

    Abd I embrace that I am a witch.

    So just try to keep me. Excommunicate me. I DO NOT CARE