Is a Catholic who converts excommunicated?

I’ve been wondering about this. If a Catholic decides to convert and be baptized in another faith, are they automatically excommunicated?

Are they apostates? Heretics?

Thanks and God bless.

[quote=SalesianSDB] I’ve been wondering about this. If a Catholic decides to convert and be baptized in another faith, are they automatically excommunicated?

Are they apostates? Heretics?

Thanks and God bless.

Not to be smart…but would they really care?

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Under the circumstances you give they would be rejecting their very Baptism. But I think it all depends on the knowledge one has of their faith. If they have been taught the truth of the Catholic faith and then reject that faith, they would be apostates. Trading the truth for a lie is never a good thing, especially when one’s salvation depends upon it. Of course they are excommunicated, by the very act itself.

Probably not, but they will someday. :wink:

Do you understand what “excommunication” is? It means to be out of communion, i.e., with Peter, the Church. If you leave communion with Peter, then yes, you are out of communion with Peter. That’s just what it means to leave the Church.

I am pretty sure that would be the case since they rejected their faith and, by definition, they removed themselves from communion. When (if) they come to their senses, they can go to confession and return into communion.

APOSTASY (ecclesiastical)One of the three kinds of desertion recognized by the laws of the Roman Catholic Church; from Christianity, when a baptized person entirely gives up his Christian faith; from orders, when a cleric abandons the ecclesiastical state; and from religion, when a man or woman leaves the religious life without dispensation from public vows.

If a Catholic gives up the Catholic faith, he is excommunicated and he is a schismatic.

Is it possible that it would be excommunication latae sentitiae?


From the same link that I posted earlier

The code of canon law of 1918 declared that apostates from the faith (as also heretics and schismatics) incur ipso facto excommunication, are deprived, after warning, of any benefice, dignity, pension, office, or any position they may have in the Church, and are declared under infamy. After a second warning, clerics are to be deposed, and members of a religious community automatically dismissed.

I don’t know if the present canon law is the same.


I guess it does Heresy, Schism and Apostasy

  1. With due regard for can. 194, part 1, n. 2, an apostate from the faith, a heretic or a schismatic incurs automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication and if a cleric, he can also be punished by the penalties mentioned in can. 1336, part 1, nn. 1, 2, and 3.

Which is what I thought.


Not if they convert from Cafeteria Catholic to Obedient Catholic. :smiley:

Then they are re-communicated. Though without formal ceremony. :highprayer:

On a more serious note, jumping off Noah’s Ark to a dugout canoe you think will be adequate
can be a terminal mistake. Is “Eterminal” a word? :hmmm:

Then too, is coming back to the Church as easy as confessing: I missed mass for the last two years? :shrug:

Thanks for the correction. Conclusion the same. He is excommunicated.

:frowning: sadly that is true.


This is a good question. And though it must vary tremendously with each individual because of the reason and as SteveVH pointed out, to what extent is their knowledge of the faith they are turning from, there is damage done to the Body of Christ.

This can be very complicated to understand, because one may have certain areas of their life prosper. In this way, i dont doubt goodness from our Lord still may come to the person who has not abandoned the whole Catholic faith, even through the good faith they do excersize. They have rejected some hard things to understand in their relationship with Him. And they have compromised their God given consciences. But the foundation of faith in Jesus is still held in their hearts. They are running from what they believe to be from men. Therefore, their reasoning is dominating their faith, but they are not completely abandoning their faith, nor love for neighbor.

In my conversations with Christians who left the Catholic parish, for a denomination, their understanding of the teachings which turned them away is very twisted. We all know this, but it is important to consider with grace and acknowledge the “Catholic” faith which they held on to. Appeal to their genuine faith, and you will find much communion with them. Not the complete communion of Christ’s un-adultered self which we hold so dear. But the reality is that many of us Catholics are receiving Communion with degrees of compromise in our hearts too! But that is what His grace is hopefully working out in us…the worldliness that is at war with our complete perfection in Jesus our Lord.

So, i agree. Excommunicated voluntarily, but not apostacy.


The more I think about this, I’m not sure that it is not apostasy. Apostasy is a renunciation and rejection of ones beliefs. We consider the EO to be in schism, but we do not claim that they have apostatized because they have not renounced the faith. One who leaves their faith, to the extent that they even reject their Baptism, is probably in apostasy.

And what if that Catholic rejects even his Baptism and joins the LDS Church, for instance? I think the term “apostasy” applies. The OP wasn’t clear as to what faith tradition was replacing the Catholic faith. It is the rejection of his/her Baptism that is the clue for me.


I see. Perhaps you may be right. The issue with re-baptizing on the premis that it was not valid because it was performed by the Catholic Church…:eek: That would be a hard situation to defend against apostasy. But the rejection of a certain interpretation of Catholic baptism? Like if one was baptized as an infant and never really accepted the practice, then in their adult age of responsibility decides to receive a baptism in an evangelical church…? Because their (evangelical) belief (as misunderstood as it may be) is not a point of saving grace, but a dedication someone makes to the Lord.

And yes, LDS is perhaps a situation in its self, considering their Baptism is invalid according to the Church. Right?

Trust me, I cringe at the thought of re-baptizing, considering the first was done in the name of the Trinity and using water. But I try to stay away from throwing the term apostasy towards anyone who still holds to a genuine faith in the gospel.

Usually, like I mentioned before, the person who leaves the Catholic parish, leaves with alot of assumed accusations against the Church, which dont equate to true understanding of actual teaching from the Church. I have discussed doctrines in great detail to non Cat christians, and they reply with accussations completely different than what I just explained to them!!! Totally frustrating! Some have a spirit of oppositionalism, I think. They are going to have us Catholics worshipping Mary and trying to earn our way into heaven no matter what we tell them otherwise! Oh well.

Yes, the OP was very general in his statements. One leaving the Catholic faith for the Anglican or Lutheran faith tradition would not be considered an apostate. One leaving the Church for the LDS or JW’s, on the other hand, could easily be considered apostasy.

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