How can I become excommunicated?

I was baptised in the catholic church shortly after birth, but thankfully my parents were irreligious enough to not send me to church.

How can I become excommunicated? I want to do this partly to regain my self-determination and undo the errors of the past, and partly to say to them “even if you’re right and there is a heaven, I don’t want to be there with the likes of you (you dirty child-molesting scum)”.

Posted: March 2nd 2008


There isn’t much information on this, since the church would prefer that you don’t leave the church so that they can still claim you as a believer.

The term you’re looking for is “defect” rather than “excommunicate”. There are apparently some edicts from the holy see about how you do this.

The best information I’ve found says that you need to write a letter to your local bishop telling them that you are no longer a member and ask them to remove your name from their rolls. You should probably do the same with your local church.

Posted: March 4th 2008

See all questions answered by Eric_PK

SmartLX www

No decent priest would do it to you. He wouldn’t simply give up on a potential worshipper just because you want out. You’re a lost sheep, more important than his entire docile congregation for as long as you’re on the outside.

About the only way you could manage is if you found a proper fire-and-brimstone priest (try for one who fully believes in exorcism) and convince him that the Church is better off without you. Even then he might have to go to his superiors first.

It’s enough for your stated purposes simply to become a Catholic apostate. Give them the figurative finger, sever all ties with the church and go your own way. They can’t claim you as their own except as a vague statistic.

If your primary motivation is hatred of the Catholic Church specifically (which it may be if your main beef is the child abuse), you might want to attend another church instead. That depends on what doctrines, if any, you still believe. There are plenty of reasons not to believe any at all, but it’s poor reasoning to say that there is no god simply because some priests are paedophiles.

Catholicism is an incredibly inclusive religion. Excommunication only had any power in the old days when there was only one big church and everybody wanted to be part of it. Now anybody can be “saved”. Even excommunication isn’t final; look up Mary McKillop and how she got hers reversed.

Don’t bother with excommunication. Just leave the church, deal with any efforts to reclaim you and live your life.

Posted: March 3rd 2008

See all questions answered by SmartLX

flagellant www

Resentment and anger are not productive states of mind; it is much better to be thoughtful and reasoning, a judgement, I suspect, you would get from many atheists. It is preferable to be motivated by sound reasoning rather than by hate.

You are resentful and angry about the behaviour of some Roman Catholic priests and the cover-up that inevitably takes place when (a) child-molesting episode(s) come(s) to light. However, by being excommunicated, you may assuage your immediate anger but, in the long run, you would still feel dissatisfied because you would have achieved very little. May I suggest, that for the moment you do nothing and use your energies in a different direction?

Firstly, your being excommunicated would have no effect on the Roman Catholic Church; it would carry on in the same way whether you were a member or not. I am not a Catholic but I remember having similar feelings of rage – but without your much stronger justification – when I was a teenager. I wanted to make a statement undoing all the mental harm that had been done to me by my relatively benign church. I spoke to atheist friends at the time and they pointed out something very important.

I make the same point to you: you are your own person. Having been baptised, you cannot undo it. It doesn’t make you a Catholic, though, if you don’t want to be one. The Catholic Church may still think of you as a Catholic, but so what? They have no power over you. Keep your own counsel: be your own person and work out what is possible. If you object strongly to the work of the Catholic Church, protest about it in a well-thought out way instead of giving vent to your anger. You could far better reverse your past errors by joining an atheist group e.g. The Brights or a similar secular organisation. Work towards the greater separation of Church and State; find out about the tax-breaks given to religious organisations and protest about them; and find out about the arguments against belief in God and against organised religions. The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins is a very good starting point. You would, for example, find good arguments about why there are almost certainly no 'real’ Gods among the many recognised by the religiosi, and no Heaven, either. Besides that, you would probably find it a thoroughly entertaining read. Your atheism, being based on reason and argument, would be all the stronger for it.

One final reason for abandoning this attempt to be excommunicated: although I do not know much about the ceremony, I am sure that you would find the experience traumatic, however strong you are. It has been designed that way to frighten people on the receiving end and to 'encourage’ the wavering faithful. You may feel able to take the risk but you would certainly increase your stress level and, as I suggested at the outset, getting yourself into a thoughtful, rational frame of mind would make you a more effective ally in the fight against the frequently malign forces of unreason.

I do hope that these comments have helped, even though they’re not exactly what you asked for.

Posted: March 3rd 2008

See all questions answered by flagellant


Excommunication or just the threat of it is used by the religious to force others to conform.

To the Catholic church, only the well known or important officiants are deemed worthy of excommunication, the rest of us don’t matter. Even for those officially excommunicated, they are still considered to be Catholics in the eyes of God because the mark of Baptism is indelible. You see, they got all the bases covered—shunning in place to bring you back in line and life-long non-voluntary membership since most Catholics compulsively baptize their infants.

Rejoice in the fact that you buy none of their nonsense and continue to use reason and fact in your fight against the religious.

Posted: March 3rd 2008

See all questions answered by logicel


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