I’m in the UK, so the process might conceivably be different in Australia, but I’m in the process of having my formal renunciation of faith accepted.
All you do is find the diocese of the parish you were baptised in, contact the Chancellor of the Diocese, and explain that you’re not Catholic and wish to make a formal renunciation. A note is then made in the baptismal register that you have formally renounced the faith. No excommunication necessary, and very simple.
All the best
August 5, 2008
Msgr. John H. O’Brien
St. Benedict Joseph Labre 94-40 118th Street Richmond Hill, NY 11419
Dear Msgr. O’Brien,
Enclosed please find a copy of my Baptismal Certificate dated 12/26/1954. I am returning it to the parish where this occurred because I am requesting an actus formalis defectionis ab Ecclesia catholica 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”). I am also enclosing an executed form as stipulated by the PCL T. Although the form is in Italian I can read and comprehend the language. Also please note that I am making this request personally, consciously and freely. A copy of this letter is also being sent to the Immaculate Conception Church on Edgerton Boulevard, Jamaica Estates where I attended school and where my confirmation was held c.1967.
I have not considered myself to be Catholic for some time and reached this conclusion after much study and introspection. The genesis for this request stems from events leading up to the recent passing of my mother. 1 respectfully declined to take part in a bedside Eucharistic Ceremony and I was chided for that afterwards by my brothers and sister. When I defended my action by stating that 1 was not a hypocrite my sister’s response was “you were baptized therefore you will always be a Catholic.” That did not sit well with me and I sought ways to formally cut all ties to the Church.
I am an agnostic. This means that I have the intellectual courage to say “I don’t know” and believe that anyone claiming to know the unknowable is either lying or relying on conjecture and mythology. The argument that the concept of God implies the existence of God, i.e., if we can conceive of God therefore he (she, it) must exist is simply a bare assertion fallacy, as it offers no supportive premise other than qualities inherent to the unproven statement. We can conceive of Santa Claus but that doesn’t mean he exists. I stand in awe of creation and acknowledge that there is a greater mystery beyond our puny attempts at comprehension. To define the mystery within dogma cheapens the experience. In the words of Carl Jung: “Religion is a defense against the experience of God.” In the absence of proof I will not blindly accept explanations based on ignorance and hope, i.e., Faith. I believe that Faith is actually a dangerous thing because while it may offer delusive comfort to some it also leads others to fly airplane into buildings.
With this in mind please note the following statements:
I hereby reject all of the dogmas and teachings of Roman Catholicism.
I renounce all blessings, benefits, graces, sanctifications, and advantages supposedly conferred on me by any religion or by any religious act done by me or on my behalf in the past, present or future.
I condemn as monstrous the idea of original sin, and renounce any baptism done on my behalf to wash it away.
I reject as ridiculous the idea of an atoning sacrifice and spurn its presumed benefits.
I reject as preposterous the concept of the Virgin 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 believe that Jesus was an enlightened individual who preached the power of love and whose message could be boiled down to “Do no harm.” I reject any claims to his “divinity”.
I do not believe in an anthropomorphic divinity that a) created the world de novo, b) maintains a sense of responsibility to that creation and c) requires constant praise and adoration from that creation.
I firmly reject the church’s archaic teachings on a) the role of women, b) homosexuality and c) priestly celibacy (we’ve seen how well that one has worked out).
I support same-sex marriage because a) people have the inalienable right to pursue happiness (see: Declaration of Independence) and b) we are supposed to love one another (see: The Bible). Worry more about keeping people together rather than spending time keeping them apart.
I do not believe that any book written by man is divinely inspired or the direct word of God. I do believe that such a work reflects the culture and society of its time whether it is an illiterate nomadic tribe or a repressive and corrupt theocracy. I also believe that, most of the time, passages from “holy” texts from the Bible to the Quran are selectively plucked and then twisted and contorted to fit agendas and pre-conceived notions.
I reject the idea of the power of prayer and believe that it is used as a manifestation of hope that distracts the individual from dealing with and overcoming the problems man himselfhas created. Going back to Santa Claus for a moment, people have been praying for world peace and the Cubs in the World Series for a long, long time and we see how well that has worked. I pray to Santa Claus because I love what he stands for and every Christmas I pray for presents and I get them. Or another way of putting it: I’ll pray for a destructive hurricane to hit the coast of Florida this season- and you pray it doesn’t. I’ll bet you who’s prayers get answered.
I believe that there is cause for concern when my insurance company refers to natural disasters as “Acts of God”.
I don’t believe in miracles or divine intervention. I don’t give thanks to a deity but I thank surgeons, firemen, cops, artists, plumbers or anyone who has made the world a better place.
I actively support organizations that promote family planning through artificial contraception. I am conflicted with regard to abortion but I do support the right of a woman to seek that option.
I would actively seek out remedies to take my own life if I suffered from a degenerative disease such as aggressive cancer, Alzheimer’s or ALS. I support organizations such as the Hemlock Society which has the courage to stand up for the rights of the individual.
I strongly support stem cell research. I find the Church’s stance to be yet another example of its fear of both science and enquiry.
I consider such a statement as “then why would people continue to believe for 2,000 years?” to be a specious argument. We have also been killing each other for far longer than that – mostly in the name of religion and we keep doing it. Just because we do something over any length of time doesn’t make it right. Read “Extraordinary Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.”
Please do not construe any part of this letter or my request as argumentum ad hominem. You have just as much right to believe, as I have not to believe.
As a principled and rational person, it pains me that someone, somewhere may be counting me as an adherent of what I consider to be an irrational superstition. Please remove my name from the records of the church, and record that I am no longer a Roman Catholic. Please send me confirmation of this action at your earliest convenience.
cc: Rev. Jed Sumapong,
Pastor, Immaculate Conception Church
Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn
Office of the Chancellor
August 21, 2008
Your letter of August 5, 2008 to Monsignor John H. O’Brien was forwarded to this office by him. In your letter, you present a formal act of defection from the Catholic Church.
From reading your letter, it is clear to me that your decision is freely made and is without reservation or equivocation.
B, consider this letter as an acknowledgement of your formal departure from the Roman Catholic Church.
The parish of your baptism is being notified of your departure and will annotate its records to show that you have left the Roman Catholic Church.
Deacon Edward F. O’Connell