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A 1983 change in canon law made formal defection possible although that was rescinded in 2010.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.