JAMES MC CONNELL IS A PARISHIONER OF MIDDLETOWN PARISH IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF ARMAGH WHO WANTS TO END HIS MEMBERSHIP OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH WHICH HE REGARDS AS CORRUPT.
But James has a problem - nobody in Armagh archdiocese is willing to speak to him about his formal defection!
James is a young intelligent and well spoken and married father who is suffering from a disability that does not interfere with is daily activities.
His first port of call - as you would expect - was the parish priest of Middletown - Father Sean Moore.
James found Father Moore hard to contact. So he called on his house recently at 9.19 am after Father Moore had celebrated the 9 am Mass in the parish church.
Here below you will see how Father Moore did / did not receive him:
Father Moore would not meet James unless he put his phone in his car - and anyway he was busy going to have his breakfast.
Having failed to meet his own parish priest James went to talk to the administrator of the neighbouring parish - Armagh Cathedral - Father Peter Mc Anenly - who lived in the same house as Father Rory Coyle used to.
This is how he fared when he tried to talk to Father McAnenly at his car. Father McAnenly seemed to be suggesting that he was not FatherAnenly and that Father McAnenly was in fact inside the parochial house.
So, obviously, no meeting with the elusive Father McAnenly was going to be on the cards???
So James decided that he should next try and speak to his diocesan bishop Amy Martin. Here is how he got on in Amy's palace:
Here is how he got on at The Palace
Unfortunately, there was no room at Amy's Palace Inn either.
His final port of call, to get advice on his hoped-for defection was on the retired archbishop Cardinal Sean "The Wounded Healer" Brady.
There were a number of cars outside and James heard voices within the house but The Wounded Healer would not open the door either:
|ATHE WOUNDED HEALER|
Last night James had a call from the police who told me that someone had reported him to them for visiting various Catholic church properties and that he was not to do so again!
The police also told him that they had a message from Father McAnenly saying that if James phoned his secretary he would arrange a meeting with him at the Priest's House in Armagh.
James said to the police: "You have just warned me not to go to any Catholic properties and then you say I am to go to one to meet Father McAnenly"?
In the absence of any help from his own parish or diocese can anyone advise James about how to make a formal defection from The Roman Church?
Pastoral advice and guidance seem to be hard to find in Armagh!
PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR LEGISLATIVE TEXTS
ACTUS FORMALIS DEFECTIONIS
AB ECCLESIA CATHOLICA
AB ECCLESIA CATHOLICA
Vatican City, 13 March 2006Prot. N. 10279/2006
For quite some time, a considerable number of Bishops, Judicial Vicars and others working in the field of canon law have been posing to this Pontifical Council questions and requests for clarification concerning the so-called actus formalis defectionis ab Ecclesia catholica mentioned in canons 1086, § 1, 1117 and 1124 of the Code of Canon Law. The concept therein presented is new to canonical legislation and is distinct from the other – rather “virtual” (that is, deduced from behaviors) – forms of “notoriously” or “publicly” abandoning the faith (cfr. can. 171, § 1, 4°; 194, § 1, 2°; 316, § 1; 694, § 1, 1°; 1071, § 1, 4° and § 2). In the latter circumstances, those who have been baptized or received into the Catholic Church continue to be bound by merely ecclesiastical laws (cfr. can. 11).
The issue was carefully examined by the competent Dicasteries of the Holy See in order to identify, first of all, the theological and doctrinal components of an actus formalis defectionis ab Ecclesia catholica and then in turn the requirements or juridical formalities that would be necessary so that such an action would constitute a true “formal act” of defection.
After having received the decision of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith concerning the theological and doctrinal elements, and after subsequently examining the entire matter in Plenary Session, this Pontifical Council communicates the following to the Presidents of Episcopal Conferences:
1. For the abandonment of the Catholic Church to be validly configured as a true actus formalis defectionis ab Ecclesia so that the exceptions foreseen in the previously mentioned canons would apply, it is necessary that there concretely be:
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.
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, an 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 the communion of the faith.
On the other hand, heresy (whether formal 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.
4. The defection must be a valid juridical act, placed by a person who is canonically capable and in conformity with the canonical norms that regulate such matters (cfr. cann.124-126). Such an act must be taken personally, consciously and freely.
5. It is required, moreover, that the act be manifested by the interested party in written form, before the competent authority of the Catholic Church: the Ordinary or proper pastor, who is uniquely qualified to make the judgment concerning the existence or non-existence of the act of the will as described above in n. 2.
Consequently, only the convergence of the two elements – the theological content of the interior act and its manifestation in the manner defined above – constitutes the actus formalis defectionis ab Ecclesia catholica, with the corresponding canonical penalties (cfr. can. 1364, § 1).
6. In such cases, the competent ecclesiastical authority mentioned above is 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”.
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.
With the certainty that the Bishops of your Conference, conscious of the salvific dimension of ecclesiastical communion, will well understand the pastoral motivations underlying these norms, I welcome this opportunity to renew my sentiments of fraternal esteem.
Faithfully yours in the Lord,
Julián Card. Herranz
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.
Q. 1. Is it possible to quit the Catholic Church? As a child, I was baptised and confirmed in the Catholic Church. That was not my choice; it was my parent's choice. Since I left home, I have never practiced any religions. I am an atheist. I do not believe in God. I want to make sure that the Catholic Church is not counting me as one of its followers.
A. 1. Yes, it is possible to quit the Catholic Church.
Q. 2. How do I go about doing it?
A. 2. You must file a copy of the "Defectio ab Ecclesia catholica actu formali," ("Defection from the Catholic Church by a Formal Act"), with the Office of the Bishop.
An of defection includes 3 sections:
A) an internal act of will;
B) an external manifestation of that act; and
C) communication of the fact in writing to your local Bishop.
Q. 3. What does the "Defection from the Catholic Church by a Formal Act" Form look like?
A. 3. The following is a sample:
DECLARATION OF DEFECTION FROM THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
I ____________________________, do hereby give formal notice of my defection from the Roman Catholic Church. I want it to be known that I no longer wish to be regarded as a member of the Roman Catholic Church.
I further declare that I am aware of the consequences of this act regarding the reception of the sacraments of the Church, including the sacraments of the Eucharist, marriage and the sick and also with regard to burial.
I undertake to make this decision known to my next of kin and to ensure that they are aware of these circumstances in the case of my being incapacitated.
I acknowledge that I make this declaration under solemn oath, being of sound mind and body, and in the presence of a witness who can testify as to the validity of this document.
With the above Form, you should include a letter with the following PRINTED information:
Your full address,
The name under which you were baptised if married since,
The date of your baptism,
The parish Church of your baptism,
Your date of birth,
The name of your parents, and
The name of your godparents.