A Simple Guide to Renouncing Your Catholic Faith

In nomine coincidentia: Lightning strikes as Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger quits the papacy
In nomine coincidentia: Lightning strikes as Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger quits the papacy

N.B. To clarify, this isn’t just an over the top case of sour grapes – I went to a Catholic school. Yes, some children were abused; yes, it was covered up.

Two of my recent squeezes have been Catholic. The first because she was a cretin and the second because she couldn’t be arsed with the rigmarole involved with formally breaking away from the church – despite being agnostic most of her adult life.

The latest reliable Vatican figures put the total number of Catholics worldwide at 1.2 billion, and this figure is rising. Not surprising considering the rate we’re pumping out new humans and – not wanting the helpless bundles of excretions to face purgatory should they cry themselves to death – baptising them without consent. I would argue that the other matter fluffing up the figures is the difficulty with which you are taken off the books.

Call me cynical, but if Catholics are anything like the Danish Lutherans, Confirmation has less to do with sincere belief than an excuse for a knees-up with your schoolmates and a few bags of presents. I do wonder how many of that worldwide figure have either lost their faith or were never particularly bothered to begin with.

I’m not going to argue the toss for the probability of a divine creator or the inherent evils of faith, that will come later; for now I want to offer any Catholics reading who no longer want to be associated with the Church this cut-out-and-keep guide to scraping the proverbial off of their boots.

Call me naive, but if numbers are seen to fall instead of rise, perhaps ‘proper’ Catholics will feel the need to start treating others with the tolerance, moral empathy and human decency their Jesus once taught – Lavender Mafia notwithstanding – if they’re to retain any influence in the future.

A 1983 change in canon law made formal defection possible although that was rescinded in 2010. But don’t be down though, apostate swine – let’s get you excommunicated!

Join such notables as Napoleon Bonaparte, Joan of Arc and Robert the Bruce, but by way of a far simpler way of freeing yourself of your churchly bonds. Papal Law lists several ways that call for instant excommunication; just be aware that it doesn’t count if you undertake them through fear, coercion or ignorance – which admittedly may be hard after a lifetime as a Catholic – it must be through a conscious and very deliberate act.

For starters, you could perform an abortion or assault the Pope. Not got the right tools? Well a person can also be excommunicated for abusing a position of authority within the church.

Just not for abusing children.

A simple renunciation of your faith or general act of heresy will also suffice, but it doesn’t take your name off the LIST, and that’s the bones of it right there, really. Desecration of the sacred host is a no-no, so my suggestion is fairly straightforward, though not without its drama; simply take Holy Communion then spit the Eucharist back at the Priest.

You might like to practise your aim prior to the big day using small bits of lavash bread, although if transubstantiation does actually occur you may have to think on your feet so also pieces of bacon until you’re confident you can hit your target. If you have one, let your dog stand-in as the priest; remember that it’s man’s best friend who loves you unconditionally – not that arsehole God.

It’s probably a good idea to get a video of the act to send on to the local Bishop; be sure to give your reasons and ask that he sees your Confirmation Certificate torn up and burnt. Because if we can get the numbers down to a truer expression then we might be a tiny bit closer to living free of the superstition and criminal nonsense that – in a world which increasingly values blind faith over insurmountable evidence – blight our every innovation, discovery and human right.



If you need further convincing, give my interview with Pope Benedict XVI on the sickness of homosexuals a listen.

7 thoughts on “A Simple Guide to Renouncing Your Catholic Faith

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  1. Semel catholicus, semper catholicus – you can never stop being a Catholic if you’ve been christened; it can’t be undone. Not by apostasy, not by excommunication. Excommunication simply means that you are banned from the community, but not that you stop being part of it. You can repent and come back to the Church and be a good Catholic again, cause God is forgiving.

    Official statistics take into account the number of people christened, not necessary SANS apostates. The Church is as likely to admit the actual number of apostates as it is to admit the number of paedophile priests, or gay priests, or priests who have lovers and kids.

    There’s millions of people christened in Africa, who in fact are believers in indigenous animistic faiths and only get christened cause they believe it will keep them safe from demons (believe it or not, but I know this from a missionary who worked in Africa).

    Also: before you start judging your friends about not being arsed to renounce the faith that’s not theirs anymore you should try to understand the personal implications of being born and raised in a largely Catholic country in a more or less Catholic family. It probably depends on the country, but to formally break away from the Church you need – among other things – two witnesses, and one of them should be your (most likely Catholic) parent or God parent.

    Renouncing your faith happens in your head not on paper, anyway.
    Philip Pullman would be the required reading here. Forgotten gods die.

    Even though I love the idea of spitting the Eucharist back at the priest even more than trying it on your dog – it makes no fucking difference to the statistics, and it’ll clearly do nothing to bringing down the church.

  2. Being excommunicated may only ban you from the community in this world, but it also condemns your soul to hell.

    Although I was writing tongue-in-cheek you do raise some interesting points that it’s my own fault for not making sure were addressed.

    This wasn’t so much about ‘bringing down the church’ but a silly way to bring down the numbers with a mind to lessen the vast influence organised religion has on societies.

    It was never going to be as funny as Minchin or as well crafted as Hitchens, but I was hoping to raise a few sniggers while I write the play that is the real dark – and hopefully hilarious – attack on the Vatican.

    If I’d thought about all this a bit more I probably wouldn’t have written this blog, but as I mentioned, I’m naive and cynical, and sometimes it’s better to try to be funny, than try to be right.

    Thanks for commenting, and God Bless.

    1. Dearest Mr Parlett – thank you for your reply to my comment. No, of course, you’re right, your post is light-hearted and funny. The only reason for my serious comment was to use the opportunity and discuss some of the aspects of the topic.
      By the way – mortal sin such as blasphemy or adultery also condemns your soul to hell, if you don’t confess, repent and are given absolution. Being an agnostic itself is a blasphemy – so there you go, no need to do anything else. Eternal condemnation granted without the need of going through the paperwork.

      Can I also take the opportunity to mention that I really enjoy reading your blog? Keep up the good work. I’d love you to post more often!

  3. Christians are few in number, true christians perhaps fewer. Always was; always will be. The church is for sinners . . . so you’re always welcome back.

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