Are you still considered Catholic if you leave?


The title says it all. If a baptized Catholic leaves the church and doesn’t attend anymore, does the Church still consider them Catholic? Specifically if the person becomes an unbeliever and declares as such.



Yes. The CC believes once a Catholic, always a Catholic.



Yes. Baptism is permanent. You may be lapsed fallen, excommunicated, or apostasized, but you don’t stop being Catholic.



What if someone actively wanted to “leave?” Do they not have that choice?



Baptism leaves an indelible mark on the soul. You are not practicing; you might even be on the road to perdition, but you are still in some sense connected to the Church, which prays for your repenting.

But this is such an obviously “basic” teaching. Why did you waste people’s time with it? :wink:
(I’m doing an impression of someone I think you know; it is a fine question.)



There used to be a way for people to register that they were no longer Catholic officially, but this was rescinded a while back. I’ll edit this post when I find a source.

Edit: So I can find a wikipedia page about it (not the best source, I know).



You can leave the practices of the church. I did. But, you don’t stop being Catholic. And trust me, you don’t forget either. Once a catholic, always a catholic, as was said above.



Could you explain more what you mean by this?



Thanks, that’s what I had found, but wasn’t sure if it was correct.



If you no longer believe in the Church, why do you care how the Church classifies you?



I think what they mean is that being a part of the Church will not only leave a mark on your soul spiritually, but also physically. Some mannerisms or behaviors will give off that you at least used to be Catholic probably.



Not helping.

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Well, that’s pretty personal. But, I mean just that. You can go as far as you want from God, from the Church, but with one movement of grace He will bring you right back. Think of the parable of the prodigal son. He takes all his inheritance, squanders it, but he doesn’t forget where his home is. It’s kind of like that.
If you are thinking of leaving, I would suggest attending a Landings group. It’s a safe place to just listen and share your story and whatever burdens you have that are driving you away. You won’t meet judgement there and leaders are all examples of “prodigal” sons and daughters who can help you.



I’m not sure if one would, but there could be a few reasons. I will refrain for now to mention them, in respect to the forum.

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Here’s a more reliable source from the Vatican website:

The Code of Canon Law nonetheless prescribes that the faithful who have left the Church “by a formal act” are not bound by the ecclesiastical laws regarding the canonical form of marriage (cf. can. 1117), dispensation from the impediment of disparity of cult (cf. can. 1086) and the need for permission in the case of mixed marriages (cf. can. 1124).

Therefore I decree that in the same Code the following words are to be eliminated: “and has not left it by a formal act” (can. 1117); “and has not left it by means of a formal act” (can. 1086 § 1); “and has not left it by a formal act” (can. 1124).



I’m not trying to be combative, but I think it’s a fair question. If someone doesn’t believe the Church is what it says it is and thus has no authority, who cares what it says about whether you’re Catholic or not. It’s a moot point.



I think if someone absolutely didn’t care they wouldn’t even bother to ask what the Church thinks.



Yes, so as long as the church isn’t publicizing that information, which I do not think they do.

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Right. And if you care in the first place, you must think there is some reason to value the Church’s teaching. If you think it’s all nonsense anyway, you wouldn’t worry about it in the first place.



People ask for help in different ways. I wouldn’t want to shut someone someone down just for asking in a difficult way. Patience. :blush:


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