Wednesday, January 25, 2012

In Which the Catholic Church Refuses to let me Defect

Well, well, dear readers. If you remember a few weeks back, I posted a blog about my attempted defection from the Catholic Church. A few days ago, I got a letter from the Milwaukee diocese (where I was born/baptized) saying that since I was no longer under their jurisdiction, my letter would be forwarded to the Columbus diocese (where I live now). I didn't think that was noteworthy, so I didn't post anything about it.

Today I got a response from the Chancellor of the Columbus Diocese.

I will transcribe it for you.

Dear Sarah:
Your notice of defection from the Catholic Church was forwarded to Bishop Frederick F. Campbell, Bishop of the Diocese of Columbus of which you are now a resident, from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. I have been asked been asked by Bishop Campbell to respond to your declaration of defection on his behalf.
I wish to first express my sorrow that you have concluded that you desire to defect from the Catholic Church. It is apparent from your postal and email address that you are a student at The Ohio State University [Me: What?], and so I encourage you to seek to speak with a member of the clergy or staff at the St. Thomas More Newman Center to discuss further your concerns and resolution regarding the Catholic Church.
Regarding your notification of defection, I need to explain that it is true that with the implementation of the 1983 Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church there was a process by which a person's notification of defection from the Catholic Church could be received and that notification would have the canonical effect of recognizing and recording such a defection. With the motu proprio Omnium in mentem, dated October 26, 2009, however, this procedure was removed from the Code with the effect that a person's declared defection can no longer be recognized by the Catholic Church. Given that your declaration was made on November 7, 2011, it is not possible for you to receive confirmation that your attempted defection will have canonical effect or be recorded in your baptism record.
Because of this change in the Canon Law of the Church and the resulting lack of canonical effect, it is equally true that you are prevented from seeking reconciliation with the Church and receiving the sacraments beyond seeking reconciliation with the Church and receiving the sacraments beyond celebrating the Sacrament of Confession. That being stated, any member of the Catholic clergy would certainly respect your declared desire not to receive the ministry of the Church and so it is particularly imporatnt that you communicate your desire to whoever might otherwise contact the Church so long as you persist in the desire declared in your declaration of November 7, 2011.
Sincerely yours,
    Very Reverend Shawn D. Corcoran

So...I have to follow Catholic rules, even though I'm not Catholic? I'm at a crossroads here, dear readers. How should I proceed? I have a few ideas, but I'd like to hear yours. I am considering contacting the clergy member he recommended (or this dude himself) for a face-to-face meeting. Because that would be super fun.
I am also considering writing a letter listing all of things I have done that violate Catholic rules. I think making a comprehensive list would be super fun. If the church won't let me defect, then I will get excommunicated...which will be significantly more fun for me, and probably a lot more annoying for them.

My letter to them would look something like this.

Reasons to Excommunicate Me
  • I have had premarital sex while using a condom.
  • I use contraception on a regular basis.
  • I have acted upon homosexual desires (and will do so again).
  • I watch pornography.
  • I support same sex marriage.
  • I vote pro-choice.
  • I have assisted women in getting to a medical center where they can obtain an abortion.
  • I actively speak out against the pope's authority.
  • I refer to belief in god as "silly, superstitious magic."
  • I have not sought reconciliation for over a decade.
  • I refused to get confirmed.
  • I do not tithe.
  • I frequently give money to secular and atheist charities.
  • I work for an atheist organization.
  • I am an atheist and do not believe in any supernatural deities.
  • I organized a book tour for Richard Dawkins.
  • I think the Catholic Church is a disgusting and morally reprehensible organization that protects child rapists and has helped spread AIDS in third world countries.
  • I will publicly destroy a Bible and a magic Jesus cracker if you will not excommunicate me.
Is this enough to get me excommunicated, you think? Any other suggestions are totally welcome!

Suggestions from people:

  • I masturbate. 
  • I am engaged to a person of the same sex.
  • I deny that the holy spirit exists.
  • The bible is made up nonsense.


  1. Hmmm...what an interesting idea. You should mention Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood. Or maybe go into the absurd and claim that you tried to be exclusive with the devil, but he had commitment issues and you had to dump him.

  2. you play any D & D, or read harry potter? They seem to confuse that with witchcraft. :P

  3. Throw up at communion, If you vomit the host they freak out

  4. Here's an idea -- go to the communion rail, take the cracker, then take out the packet of peanut butter you got from the diner, spread it on the cracker. Ask for another. Variations on this theme may include fondue, sour cream & onion dip, caviar, or CheezWiz in a can. Wash it down with a swig of Manischewitz you're carrying in a paper bag, with a straw sticking of of it.

    Or you can immediately drop it into a plastic sandwich bag and leave with it. Hold it for ransom. Take a photo of you holding a gun to the cracker with a note saying "Let me defect or the cracker gets it."

    Hey, I may try that myself.

  5. Oh yeah, one more: I deny the divinity of Jesus Christ. That's important, right?

  6. Ask to meet the bishop. When you meet him, declare "you're not a real bishop - you haven't moved diagonally since I got here!" and storm out. Doing this in a church service led by said bishop could also be fun.

    Go to communion,take a sacred host. Spit it out and scream "damn it, this is Jesus wang. You're supposed to take that part out!"

  7. Also, try asking deep theological questions like

    Without god, we are left to decide our own morals. I have decided that homosexuality and abortion are ok, and that raping children is wrong. Does this make me a bad person?

  8. You could always physically attack the pope, I hear that guy is pretty important for some reason.

  9. You own cats. . . Er - wait - that doesn't go against Catholicism, I think.

  10. Don't forget to mention how delicious you think babies are!
    Nothing says atheist more than eating babies

  11. Whenever he says the words "Virgin Mary," correct him with "Hooker Mary" or something similar.

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  13. We sure will have fun in Hell, Jason. Depending on how different religions define Hell, we're likely to have most of the best musicians, most of today's great scientists, and plenty of great historical figures.

  14. I just came across your blog. I know this post is more than a year old, but I thought I would share my thoughts anyway.I am also a former Catholic, but am not atheist. I have no problems with atheism or atheist, so please don't take my personal religion as a negative thing.

    You do not need to have a formal process of defection in order to be excommunicated from the Church. As the letter states, the Catholic Church no longer has a formal process of defection, as of 2009, but that does not mean you aren't excommunicated. A total renunciation of the Catholic faith, or being an apostate, automatically makes you excommunicated. Being an apostate is one of nine ways to be automatically excommunicated. An excommunication is not a dismissal of your Baptism, that can never be undone, but it is the most serious penalty you can incur within the Catholic system. As someone that is excommunicated, you can't receive any Sacraments except penance if you choose to go back. Hope that makes you feel better.

  15. I realise this post is over a year old but I am in this same predicament and it weighs on me daily that I can still be officially called a Catholic. I live in Australia, but the rules of Churches and their "higher than the law" status is universal, and I can't help thinking that it should be ILLEGAL that my request to defect from any organisation be denied. I am going to write a letter regardless stating my wishes, even if it is ignored. I must do something!

  16. Sarah,

    I know this is old, but I stumbled upon it and found it very interesting. I find it very unfortunate that the church has made it so difficult to leave. Personally, I grew up knowing this priest and I know this is just business for him. That being said, I don't disagree with your rant. I also walked away from the Catholic Church several years ago and, while I still believe in God, I couldn't stand the hypocrisy of the religion or most of what they stand for. Congratulations on your engagement.

  17. I recommend stating "I offered my soul to the devil to become a defect of Catholicism"

  18. Tell them you have an addiction to dogs only.
    Therefore you cannot possibly be a Cat-a-holic.

  19. Tell them you have an addiction to dogs only.
    Therefore you cannot possibly be a Cat-a-holic.