A Roman Catholic Defects from the Church

Glen Retief in Lesotho

My partner Glen Retief and I were both baptized into the Roman Catholic Church, taken First Holy Communion and Confirmation. We no longer attend mass and in fact have become involved with the Religious Society of Friends (Quaker).

There are so many things I adore about Glen, but his integrity is high up on the list. He has been aware that as a baptized Roman Catholic, even though he has not worshipped in a RC church for years, he is still counted on the rolls of the church. He has decided to write a formal letter of defection to the church.  In it he outlines his reasons for this defection. These include the sexual abuse scandals which has gotten many people to question their relationship to the Church. According to the Count Me Out website:

A formal act of Defection (or “Actus formalis defectionis ab Ecclesia Catholica” in the original Latin) is a church document that registers a person’s wish to defect from the Roman Catholic Church. This instrument of defection was referenced in Canons 1086 §1, 1117 and 1124 of the Code of Canon Law 1983 but what the act constitutes was only defined in a papal edict of March 13th 2006.

For a defection to be valid, it must fulfill three conditions. The Church states that 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.

Here is the letter that Glen has sent to the local bishop:

Very Rev Chester P Snyder
Diocesan Administrator
Bishop, Office of The
4800 Union Deposit Road
Harrisburg , PA 17111-3710

Dear Father Snyder,

This letter is to inform you of my defection from the Roman Catholic Church. I was baptized at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, Nelspruit, South Africa, in 1970, and confirmed in the same parish in 1985. Here is the current contact information for this parish:

P.O. Box 620, Nelspruit 1200 Telephone: +27 (0) 13 752 2559 / facsmile: +27 13 755 2189. Web page http://nelspruitcatholic.org/

My reasons for defection are grounded in a profound disagreement with almost all the elements of Catholic faith and doctrine. I do not believe in a divine law or precepts unshaped by human culture, discourse, and power relationships. I reject papal authority and the authority of the magisterium. Above all, I recoil from the vast majority of what, in my view, the Roman Catholic Church represents in the modern world: misogyny, homophobia, tolerance of sexual abuse, and dogmatic opposition to life-saving HIV prevention, to name just a few examples. My adult view of Roman Catholicism is in fact that the church has become a rough equivalent to the Pharisees as portrayed in the New Testament—an institution that places the letter of the law above loyalty to the values of love and humanity. Thus, for me, formal rejection of Catholicism has become a moral, spiritual, and political imperative.

I therefore no longer wish to be counted among Roman Catholicism’s adherents, lapsed or otherwise, and I wish to clearly state that I have no desire for a Catholic marriage, funeral, or for Last Rites. I wish to completely and unambiguously separate from the church. I am aware of canon law in this regard and accept the consequences of my defection.

I have not attended a Catholic mass, participated in a Catholic sacrament, or given money to any Catholic parish since March 1988. This letter precedes an intended application for membership in the Religious Society of Friends (Quaker), where I have regularly been attending since 2004. I hope you will accept this defection and take appropriate steps to amend your records.


Glen Retief


This post has 7 Comments

  1. claire fauci on March 30, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! I, as well as my husband and two sons have also taken this step and feel cleansed and free from the RCC’s systematic raping of children, bashing of gay people and oppression of women, just to name a few!!! The number of Roman Catholics now defecting from this EVIL EMPIRE is growing in leaps and bounds, and that my friend, IS A WONDERFUL THING!!!! May you find enlightenment and support in your new spiritual home.

  2. GreenEyedLilo on March 30, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    I kind of like the idea of sitting down and writing a letter of intent, instead of just leaving. The only thing I regret about the way I left the Assemblies of God church was not formally telling the pastor and the youth leader why, just to let them know what they did and how they turned me against them. I wonder if the Catholic leadership actually does take people off the rolls. Anyway, I hope Glen feels good about his decision, and that the Religious Society of Friends is a far more congenial place.

  3. lowercasepaul on April 1, 2010 at 6:45 am

    Go Glen! 🙂

    My favorite part of this blog entry was your declaration of affection for Glen. “Adore.” To me there is no more legitimate example of just how blind and wrong many religions are as that of the obviously real love you display.

  4. Mackenzie on April 25, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Thanks for the reminder. Just drafted a letter of my own for when I get around to doing this (ahem, some time after the Catholic parents stop financially supporting me, just in case).

  5. p2son on April 25, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    wow, let me know how it goes and what you hear from the church.

  6. Hy Pocrite on December 16, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Why was my previous reply, which simply pointed out the total hypocrisy of the above response by Claire Fauci, removed?

    It is a fact that she and her husband willingly accepted the free high school education granted to her son by the Archdiocese of New York when he attended Regis High School for four years.

    Why, at this late date, is she so vehemently opposed to the Roman Catholic Church for their anti-gay policies? If anything, the church is more tolerant of homosexuals now than it was when her son went to high school.

  7. Peterson Toscano on December 16, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    I deleted it because I judged it too far off topic. Someone leaving the church is one thing, while securing decent education for a child is another. Lots of folks don’t have beef with their pArish priests or the local school, but those few positive connections are not enough to dislodge the deeper theological and social justice concerns that motivate people to renounce the faith.

    I see there is anger and hurt for you regarding what you judge hypocritical on the part of Claire. Perhaps it may feel like betrayal. Claire most likely sees things differently. Perhaps you are both wrong.

    Regardless, this blog is not the place to work out your differences. Please find a more appropriate venue.

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