Most of my family, father, sister, aunts and Uncles have denounced the church I guess all they would have to do is go to confession but it seems confusing since they are professing new religions such as new age or Unitarian
By virtue of their baptism, they are members of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church.
Sometimes one must remember that the Church is more than just a religious institution.
They are committing heresy. The Catholic Church is the One, True Church, and by professing a new religion they are turning their back on Christ and committing heresy. The punishment for heresy is automatic excommunication.
Encourage them to repent. I’ll pray for you.
While it is possible to renounce your history. I don’t think it is possible to completely erase your history. Catholicism has in many ways formed your family, whether they like it or not.
It is the difference between a post-Christian society, and a pre-Christian society. One only need to look at how ancient pagans of the Roman pre-Christian era regarded the poor as less than human, and the post-Christians tend to reject Christians as not caring enough about the poor and dispossessed, not as much as they should, at any rate, if they were “real” Christians.
Two thousand years of Catholic teaching has changed society, and individuals simply do not exist independently from the social milieu in which they were formed. Not just in some mystical sense, but in a very real and tangible sense, your ex-pat family are still very much Catholic, although that too will be erased as subsequent generations are more and more removed from the Catholic roots.
And if they aren’t Catholic in any sense now, that likely means that they never were in the first place.
Yes, heresy is automatic excommunication
I will pray for them as well.
Just because someone is sanctified into the grace of His Church, does not mean they are saved. Yet, doesnt the Church receive them, not substituting herself as judge of their souls?
If grave sins are evident, it is the Church’s duty to encourage their repentance. This sometimes leads to the most drastic measure of excommunication. I dont believe the Church Teaches excommunicants are going to hell.
I guess your question is more related to self excommunication. Same view of their salvation is believed. No one knows who the Lord judges unworthy of being Catholic.
That’s my understanding,
Many of my family and old friends are just the same as yours, what they call themselves is also the same. For a variety of reasons they left the Church. Over the last several years I have wondered about what will happen to them after they die, what does God think about their choices, etc. Finally I came to the conclusion that if I spent more time praying for them to come back I would be spending my time more wisely. I had an uncle who was married to a woman who was a member of the Eastern Star and for some reason hated the Catholic Church. They were married for almost 60 years and had one child. After my aunt died my uncle went to confession and back to church after a 60 year absence. There is always hope!
They are not committing heresy, they are committing apostasy. They are not heretics, they are apostates.
The second article has a section that denotes the difference.
Oh, my bad. :o
But it is my understanding that anyone who commits apostasy incurs automatic excommunication.
Praying for your family!!
Yes. The only reason I pointed this out is that a lot of people on CAF seem to use the terms heretic and heresy incorrectly, and this happens frequently. They seem to be rather popular words. So I though I’d post some references to help people use the proper terms.
I would consider your family lapsed Catholics.
Heresy and apostacy are very serious crimes. Like all crimes they involve knowledge, wilfullness and consent - anything mitigating these three criteria reduces and can possibly eliminate culpability.
Consent: E.g., someone doing something they know is wrong (knowledge) and doing it deliberately (wilfullness) but is doing so under some or any kind of pressure, threat or duress would mitigate their consent and reduce their culpability. Someone holding my family hostage could possibly demand I perform some crime that I know is wrong but I deliberately do anyways; notwithstanding, my culpability is limited (though not necessarily entirely removed) because I am not acting freely.
A heretic substitutes, replaces and/or perverts Catholic dogma. They do this by changing or denying some dogma or dogmas. However, it requires the criteria to be met. Often people act in ignorance and do not realize the full gravity or consequences of their beliefs, actions or behaviour. This reduces their culpability because it mitigates the above-given criteria. The Church is in part here to help us and prevent this from happening: i.e. she faithfully guards and teaches the faith in its integrity and maintains that integrity from corruption. Saint Thomas Aquinas is no heretic but he would be today if he insisted in his opinion against the teaching and authority of the Church against the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Of course, Saint Thomas submitted and entrusted all of his work to the care and judgement of the Church.
Again, heresy and apostacy are crimes (and so is schism). They involve grave subject matter.
In practice, most peope I think would consider your family as lapsed Catholics. Heretics are much more dangerous because they at least sound like Christians. No one is going to confuse or mistake your family’s rather colourful bouqet of beliefs with the Catholic faith or religion or as the “true” Christianity.
The Church is like an organism. Heresies are like infectious diseases that spread through the body. The Church, over time, becomes innoculated against certain heresies - the antibodies are already there to prevent the disease from taking serious hold again. Heresies tend to be novelties and as such aren’t immediately recognized - at least at first - as something deadly to faith. Catholics aren’t likely to confuse Lutheranism, for example, with Catholicism: they were liable to, however, when Martin Luther first appeared.
The sacraments are like marks on your soul. They cannot be erased. I think it problematic when we try to determine who remains Catholic. While on the one side, I fully agree that a lot of people who profess to be Catholic should just stop doing so and stop dragging the rest of us into their heresy and sin. But on the other hand, they are still Catholic souls who have destroyed their relationship with Christ. They need only the sacrament of reconciliation to recover that relationship and their Catholic identity.
So it doesn’t seem right to me to place lapsed or heretical Catholics in the same group as true non-Catholics. The sacraments are what make you Catholic, while your relationship with Christ determines the direction of your final end. Thus I would say those members of your family are still Catholics, but they are in danger.
Is someone really still catholic if they have denounced the church?
Ultimately, the answer to this question will depend on what dictionary you’re using. However, I think the best terminology to use (speaking in general, not of the specific family members that Adamski mentioned) is that someone who has left Catholicism is an “ex-Catholic” – thus distinguishing them both from Catholics and from people who have never been Catholic.
Likewise, in terms of discussing e.g. Eastern Orthodoxy, I would regard myself as a “never-been-Orthodox”, thus distinguishing from both Orthodox and ex-Orthodox.
Once a Catholic, always a Catholic has little to do me. It has more to do with God and His patience and mercy.