De-Baptism Trend in Europe

In what I find truly strange, a number of European countries are now experiencing what the press is calling a “de-baptism” trend. People are paying money to have a company print them a certificate showing they have officially revoked their baptism.

This is certainly a sad and theologically fraudulent trend. But I wonder, what is its deeper significance?

What I found most interesting that one of the founders of the movement attributed the trend partially to the growing political involvement of the Catholic Church. While I understand that she meant this as a criticism, it strikes me as a positive sign that the Catholic Church has had an awakening and its critics seem to fear the attempt of the Church to assert its moral authority. Just as disobedient children despise the correcting parent, the materialistic and self focused world seem to have a special disdain for the Church.

Recently I have seen a greater willingness among many of the Catholics I know to try to inform their political views by their faith and have wondered if my perspective is colored by my own experiences. What do others find in their part of the world? Is the Church, including the Magesterium, the clergy and the laity, beginning to speak with great clarity and confidence?

I hope and pray that is the case, but often wonder if it is true, or merely hopeful thinking.
Thanks and advance for sharing your experiences.
Prof. K

Thanks for posting this. I found it fascinating on various levels.

Finally people are being forced to make a choice between Christianity and the ways of the world. That’s what I see in this story. For too long the church allowed people to be extremely wishy-washy and still call themselves Christian.

More reasons to pray for these lost sheep. But be forewarned, the good Shepherd leaves the 99 behind and goes out and always looks for the lost.

So matter what we do to move away from Him, He is very close.

More reasons to pray for Europe and the rest of the world for that matter.

Consider the Church considers among Her members those who were Baptized into it unless they formally go to the Bishop to resign. Now if we are politically counting heads we count all those people as potentially part of the voting bloc even if they never walked into the church under their own power. The other side through a de-baptism is saying not so fast, they may count us in order to seem stronger then they actually are.

Being willing to pay for the ceremony and probably a party which goes with it just emphasizes how much they are not a part of the church even if their parents did a small part to make them part of it.

I copied this Archbishop Fulton Sheen quote from a different thread, but thought it was worth sharing here:

"If I were not a Catholic and were looking for the true Church in the world today, I would look for the one Church which did not get along well with the world; in other words, I would look for the Church which the world hates. My reason for doing this would be that if Christ is in any one of the churches of the world today, he must still be hated as he was when he was on earth in the flesh. If you would find Christ today, then find the Church that does not get along with the world.

Look for the Church that is hated by the world as Christ was hated by the world. Look for the Church which is accused of being behind the times as our Lord was accused of being ignorant and never having learned. Look for the Church which men sneer at as socially inferior as they sneered at our Lord because he came from Nazareth. Look for the Church which is accused of having a devil as our Lord was accused of being possessed by Beelzebub, the prince of devils. Look for the Church which, in seasons of bigotry, men say must be destroyed in the name of God as men crucified Christ and thought they had done a service to God. Look for the Church which the world rejects because it claims it is infallible as Pilate rejected Christ because he called himself the Truth. Look for the Church which is rejected by the world as our Lord was rejected by men.

Look for the Church which amid the confusion of conflicting opinions its members love as they love Christ and respect its voice as the very voice of its founder, and the suspicion will grow that if the Church is unpopular with the spirit of the world then it is unworldly, and if it is unworldly it is other-worldly. Since it is other-worldly it is infinitely loved and infinitely hated as was Christ himself. But only that which is divine can be infinitely hated and infinitely loved. Therefore the Church is divine (Radio Replies, preface, p. ix, source, slightly edited for readability)."

Well, with this current Notre Dame/ Obama debacle, to me, the Church, in the persons of the Bishops, seems to be discomfortingly quiet… An objective and detached observer might almost conclude that Jenkins has their tactic approval. (Perhaps Jenkins does also.) Yes, there have been some very courageous and forthright Bishops who have spoken up; but, how many Bishops are there out there and how many have not spoken out regarding, from a Catholic standpoint any way, this critical moral issue? As with many deviations of the past, they remain strangely silent. What are they AFRAID of? This does not portend well for the future of the Church in the United States. After all, if they’re not supplying clear moral leadership on obvious issues, then what is their responsibility?

Blessings and thanks to those of courage. Prayers to the others. Or, maybe it’s just me. But I just don’t get it!

Would some theologian explain whether the sacrament of baptism can be reversed? I don’t see how a sacrament once given can be taken back.

Well, attacking the president’s invitation right now is very sensitive. This is a difficult political matter that doesn’t have an easy answer.

I wonder if the animosity has anything to do with the changing of the popes. Pope John Paul II was so photogenic and so vibrant that he really popularized the papacy and endeared himself to the media.

Pope Benedict XVII now enters a papacy that is very much in the media spotlight due to Pope John Paul’s legacy, but the words of a Catholic intellect have become the main focus rather than the bright personality of a saint.

His words cut like a knife when it comes to sin. His personality is not sunny enough to soften the blow.

Sanderson meanwhile remains resolute. “The fact that people are willing to pay for the parchments shows how seriously they are taking them,” he said.

Exactly. In some countries, the Church or Catholic private initiatives pay for billboards explaining the meaning of Christmas and Easter to a secular society. Here their work is being done for them when it comes to the meaing of baptism: it makes one a Christian, represents a commitment to live as a Christian, and is irrevocable in the eyes of Christians everywhere. It is not a dress-up party for newborns; it changes a person’s identity. What is sad is not that the atheists publicly acknowledge that they know this, but that so many of the baptized need reminding of it.

Canon Lawyer Ed Peters says that there is no such thing as de-baptism.

Britons, we are told, have downloaded some 100,000 “de-baptism” forms, and another 1,500 blokes have paid $ 5 each for a “de-baptism” parchment. Presumably, people sign these forms and what, we’re not sure, hang them up on the wall or something.

A few thoughts, beginning with: there’s no such thing as “de-baptism”.

Once you are baptized, you are baptized. It’s not just a “church rule” that one can’t cancel a baptism, it’s divine law. I can no more cancel my baptism than I can cancel having been born in Missouri. Admittedly, folks who deny there is a God will also deny that ‘divine law’ makes impossible de-baptism, but that’s a problem for apologetics, not canon law. Anyway, as cheesy as internet “de-baptism” certificates might be, at least they provide the inimitable Jeff Miller over at Curt Jester with fodder for humor: Says Miller, Julian the Apostate, when he wanted to renounce his baptism, had himself drenched in bull’s blood. Such a stunt, quips Miller, is “just as ineffective as an internet certificate, but it at least shows commitment.” LOL!

Second, the “de-baptism” fad does occasion (or, re-occasion, as the case may be) some questions about whether, notwithstanding the indelible character of baptism, one might be able to renounce one’s Catholicism, indeed, one’s Christianity. There are good arguments for and against the possibility that one can cancel one’s membership in the Catholic Church or even abrogate one’s identity as Christian (without “voiding” one’s baptism, which is impossible). I mention this only to caution against overly-hasty resort to pithy expressions like Semel Catholicus semper Catholicus or Semel Christianus semper Christianus when what might have been meant was only Semel baptizatus semper baptizatus and what exactly that means.

Third, signing these “de-baptism” forms does not, of itself, suffice for a “formal act of defection” under canon law (for an excellent article on this complex area of the 1983 Code, see J. Huels, “Defection from the Catholic Church by a formal act and the Circular Letter of 13 March 2006”, Studia Canonica 41 (2007) 515-549), but signing such a form is certainly at least a step toward, indeed, objectively speaking, a sinful step toward, such defection. Moreover, the proliferation of these documents (not just in Britain, but around the world) is going to force some closer attention to several related issues in canon law, e.g., in criminal and matrimonial law, to say nothing of its serving as an topic for evangelization and catechesis focus.

Finally, recognizing that the folks using such forms need our prayers (even if they don’t recognize it), we might encourage the hundreds of thousands of persons coming into the Church this Easter to pray especially for those who wish to leave her. The newly baptized, and the newly received, flush with great graces, would make powerful prayer allies in this matter!

Since Baptism leaves an indellible mark on the soul, no piece of paper is going to “de-baptize” anyone - which leads me to a question:

If those who desire to leave the Church are so ignorant of the most basic teachings of the faith, what are we really losing (i.e. don’t let the narthex door hit you in the *** on the way out?

I know what “they” are losing, but what are we? I am really trying not to judge but I am about up to here with Catholics who critize the faith and don’t have the simplist idea what the faith really teaches.

Yet another reason why Atheism is a religion. Now they have RITUALS just like theistic religions do.

Is that quacking I’m hearing?

On one hand, as atheists, they claim that God and the supernatrual don’t even exist - and so baptism should be nothing but a meaningless ritual that holds no power over them.

On the other hand, they try go out of their way and even spend money in an attempt to undo this allegedly “meaningless” ritual. Just what do they think this is going to accomplish?

Don’t they even see the inconsistency in this?

I think that really is the heart of the story, which wasn’t explored deeply enough. Why do so many Britons resent their baptism strongly enough to send for a meaningless piece of paper? Why the need for outside recognition of their rejection of baptism?

The news article mentions the president of the National Secular Society speculating that the trend is fueled by hostility of the political activity of the Catholic Church. But is this true? The guy continues his speculation by saying that in Catholic countries exists a strong attitude of wanting to punish the Catholic Church by leaving it. But the UK isn’t a Catholic country, and no evidence is offered that the bulk of those filing for de-baptism certificates were baptized as Catholic.

I dunno…the article raises an interesting phenomenon, but it doesn’t really explain it.

why would you need a de-baptism certificate anyway? simply by stop professing your faith should be enough.

i think it is silly if they are paying money for a certificate to show they are de-baptized.

that can’t erase the years they spent practicing their faith. just like divorce cannot change the fact that you were married to your ex-spouse.

even with their certificate, they could still have seeds of doubt.

i have never heard of this trend until reading this thread.

In Spain we have some of them, in decadent societies like Europe or US now, this is a huge symbol, the horror of their christian roots. If we don´t change a lot, soon we will be a muslim country or something worst. It´s horrible but the birth rate is the key. And too many catholic bishops are so bad and weak,

God have mercy on them. They are taking the greatest gift they have ever been given and flushing it down the toilet.

Jesus is always standing there with open arms waiting to bring them back. It is our duty as their Christian brothers and sisters to pray for them and try to bring them back.

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