Is there a way I could have myself permanently excommunicated from the Melkite Church? I understand it is possible to write a letter to the Vatican requesting such. Might there be a similar process for the Eparchy of Newton, especially if I wrote a letter stating grounds for excommunication such as being a non-theist who supports contraception, early-term abortion and gay marriage?
If so, who would I write to? Could I have my name removed from all their records?
Probably writing the parish or mission you were baptised in would be sufficient. If that community is closed or moved one could write the chancery of the bishop (Newton, MA for the USA).
But don’t expect the records to be expunged. They will probably have the dates of baptism and chrismation, and a record of your wish to be removed from the rolls of the church, the reason and the date it was done.
This information will be handy when your remote descendants want to learn more about you and start doing some geneological research.
You, of course, realize that being excommunicated does not throw someone out of the church, right? It simply bans them from all sacraments, except reconciliation, to send a public statement that they are in heresy from the church. It does not remove them from being Catholic. In fact, excommunicated Catholics (at least, Latin Rite Catholics) are still under their obligation to attend Mass on Sundays (though they must refrain from Communion). That said, it is not often the case that someone excommunicated would care about this obligation.
What you want is the “Defectio ab Ecclesia catholica actu formali” (Defection from the Catholic Church by Formal Act). Here is a link to the information:
Note that this will not remove your name from Baptismal records. There is no way to remove your name, since it is a fact that it happened and it is a historical record. However, you will no longer be counted toward figures regarding church membership, and you will no longer be considered a Catholic statistically. Keep in mind, however, that theologically, once you are baptized, the Catholic Church considers you a Catholic forever, since Baptism imparts an indelible mark on one’s soul.
Writing the parish where I was baptized will not work because I was originally baptized Protestant, then became Roman Catholic through Confirmation and profession of faith, then later obtained a canonical transfer of sui iuris Church to become Melkite.
On the Eparchy of Newton website the chancery lists several people to contact. Should I write to Protosyncellus Archimandrite Philip Raczka, Judicial Vicar Archimandrite Gerasimos Murphy, Chancellor Deacon Paul J. Leonarczyk or should I write directly to Bishop Samra?
Thanks for the link. I notice the form is worded for someone wishing to submit a, “formal notice of my defection from the Roman Catholic Church”. Since I am no longer canonically Roman Catholic, I wonder if the wording of this form can be changed to accommodate defection from the Melkite Greek-Catholic Church. I need to find out if the Eparchy of Newton uses a similar form or will simply accept a letter of defection.
As a non-believer myself I have to echo ByzCath on this. What records and documents a Church keeps doesn’t affect me. Not sure why it should affect the original poster. Just walk away and lead a happy, productive, moral life.
You can replace “Roman Catholic” with “Melkite Greek Catholic”. The wording is just a suggestion; all you have to do is express your desire to defect in writing to the appropriate authorities, which in your case would likely be the parish which handled your canonical transfer, or, if it no longer exists, the Eparchy itself.
(Do note that they will never under any circumstances willingly “expunge” any records of you. All the above will accomplish is that a new note will be added to your record, indicating that you have defected. And you will no longer be counted when the Church tries to determine how many people belong to it, which I suppose is why you’re going to all this trouble.)
Wait wait wait - all a ‘formal notice of defection’ has ever meant practically is that one is not bound by some of the marriage canons of the Church. Otherwise one is in all respects bound by all dogma and discipline as any Catholic would be.
So formal defection certainly has no effect as far as any obligations the Church imposes. :shrug: And I don’t know why you’d bother, frankly.
Yes, you can kick and scream and say ‘but I didn’t ASK to be Catholic - it’s so UNFAIR!’. But it’s true nonetheless.
Likewise I didn’t ask to be born to the biological parents I have. And may suffer for that - eg if they passed on some genetic disease to me, or if I happen to fall in love with a biological sibling and cannot marry them or something. I can pretend all I like that I’m not related to them, it won’t stop the relationship from being fact and having certain, sometimes sucky, consequences in my life.
Meh. We council people here on the correct, official way to defect from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and when one’s defection is accepted, we celebrate with them. We should extend the same charity to those who feel it is important for their spiritual well being that they defect from the Catholic Church, even if we never stop praying that they eventually find their way back home. Whatever his motivations are, he is trying to do the right thing for someone in his situation, and from the standpoint of the church it is preferable that he make the effort to formally defect rather than just drift away and stop coming to church.
Firstly it is not charity to blithely allow someone to drift away from truth into error merely because they want to, no matter how badly they want it. It is in fact the very opposite of true charity, which strives as Christ strove with all His might to avoid even a single sheep being lost.
Secondly it is especially not charity to allow someone to be given inaccurate and incorrect information about what effect a formal defection actually has (ie none). Thirdly it is not charity to act as if it was a worthwhile thing to do when it isn’t, from anyone’s point of view.
The Church has an official procedure for defection for a reason; it prefers that people in the OP’s situation defect rather than just disappear and remain on the membership rolls forever without ever coming to church. This increases the accuracy of the Church’s statistics, helps their evangelization efforts and gives peace of mind to the individual concerned. Someone who respects the Church enough to defect from it, and who is in turn treated with respect throughout the process, is more likely to eventually return.
I think the most you can hope for is just simply walk away and that is actually harder than removing all evidence if that is what you’re after?
I would actually talk to your priest and/or bishop of which the priest might need to approach the bishop anyway. Yes he may well ask you why etc and give you time to really think about it but that is good because it will mean you are sure.
As have been said before, why not just simply walk away?
It is not that the Church “prefers” formal defection. It was a concept added to the Latin Church’s law which would enable more people to be in valid marriages. The preference was for valid marriage, not formal defection. In the law of the Eastern Churches, however, there never was such a concept. The Western and Eastern Churches are now in accord on the topic.
As there are no automatic excommunications in the Eastern Churches, the OP would have to submit to a formal trial in order to be excommunicated. Since that would only happen after the commission of some crime–which, in turn, requires evil conduct–I must remain silent. I hope that I would never think to tell someone to commit a crime or carry out some evil action, no matter what his/her motives were or rationale was (cf. Romans 3:8).
This is not accurate. You can defect from any sui juris church, Western or Eastern, by virtue of written request. No trial is held, and no excommunication is proclaimed. Neither defection nor excommunication absolves an individual of their duties under canon law regarding marriage, mass attendance, or anything else, in the Western or Eastern churches.
Different Churches can have different codes of canon law. That is obvious but the fact that the Latin Church has one and the Eastern Catholic Churches have another one. I disagree with you that you can defect by virtue of written request and that you are still require to meet the obligation, that is simply a contradiction. The bottom line is that you cannot formally defect from the Latin Church (see Omnium in mentem). You can simply transfer to a different Catholic Church or go with a de facto defection by becoming a schismatic or an apostate.