Once a Catholic, Always a Catholic?

This is how I’ve always understood it. I’m particularly interested in this as it applies to converts, though it may apply somehow to cradle Catholics as well. I mean, when they are received into the Catholic Church, they receive the sacraments – possibly Baptism, certainly Confirmation and Eucharist. The Sacraments leave “indelible marks,” or so I was taught.

What I’m asking – provide references if you know of any, that’d be great – is, there’s no equivalent to an annulment for conversion and joining the Church, is there? I could think of only one possible scenarios, and again, these are my musings so don’t take them as anything authoritative.

One possibility - say the person was insane or under the influence (although it would be hard to think how they could get through an entire RCIA program without that being detected). Would their conversion be valid when they sobered up or got mental health treatment?

But say the person had an illness, and on his/her supposed deathbed he/she converted, then somehow recovered, and later didn’t even remember it and didn’t want to be Catholic.

I present these extreme scenarios in an attempt to figure out what to do, how to help, people who apparently converted for emotional reasons, or to please someone else, and then changed their mind – but who at the time thought it was what they wanted also. They couldn’t become “un-Catholic” then, the most they could do would be to be a non-practicing Catholic.

In evangelizing a person in that situation, we would want to try to get the person to see the decision as irreversible, and encourage them to re-commit to it, right? With love, of course.

I wonder about this, too. There certainly should be (IMHO) an equivalent to annulment, if a convert’s consent was somehow impaired.

An annulment does not undo a sacrament. It is a declaration that a sacrament never took place. For instance, an annulled marriage never was :(.

What matters is that at the time the sacrament was conferred, the recipient willingly accepted it, understanding that it was a sacred action from God.

It the case of “insanity” (deprived of the use of reason), temporary or otherwise, it might not be possible to confer a sacrament. At best perhaps the sacrament might be conferred conditionally “if the recipient is willing and able to consent”, and then repeated, again conditionally “if not previously baptized/confirmed”, upon recovery.

If the patient recovered and was unwilling to consent, he or she might be dispensed from the obligation to live as a Catholic, even if the sacraments were presumed valid. This is my guess based on previous reading, so someone please correct or clarify if needed!

In the case of recovery from grave injury, if the patient weren’t deprived of reason (severally mentally ill, comatose, under heavy sedation, etc), and the patient asked for the sacrament under his or her own free will, then sacrament would be considered absolutely valid, and the person would indeed be obligated to live as a Catholic!

An annulment does not undo a sacrament. It is a declaration that a sacrament never took place. For instance, an annulled marriage never was :(.

For baptism and confirmation, the threshold for consent in making the sacrament valid is much lower than the threshold for marriage. What matters is that at the time the sacrament was conferred, the recipient willingly accepted it, understanding that it was a sacred action from God; understanding the details is unnecessary.

If someone is of right mind and body, assuming valid priest/matter etc, then the sacrament is presumed valid, and the obligation to live as a Catholic exists. (For my purposes in this post, I am assuming Catholic clergy and valid form and matter)

In cases where one is “deprived of the use of reason” (ie. severely mentally ill, comatose, under heavy sedation, etc), then sacraments may only be conferred if there is a reasonable belief that the person would have consented if healthy. In such a case the sacrament may be conferred conditionally: “if the recipient is willing…”.

If recovery occurs, the sacrament might again be conditionally conferred, this time “if not previously baptized/conferred…”.

If the patient recovers, but does not express consent for the previous sacraments, then the patient might be conditionally dispensed from his or her obligation to live as a Catholic. If the sacrament did not “take”, then no obligation exists.

If the sacrament were indeed valid, “by fluke” (such as imperfect consent or duress not severe enough to block the sacrament), then the dispensation would remove the undo burden of having to fulfill ones Catholic obligation. Should that person come back to the Catholic faith, the conditional sacrament may be offered as a precaution.

The dispensation is not equivalent to an annulment, but serves a similar purpose. Baptism and Confirmation don’t quite have the same impact on a person life (on Earth!) as marriage does, so they are generally presumed valid, though possibly suspect - subject to conditional reapplication.

An annulment removes the obligations from a marriage found to be invalid. The dispensation removes the obligations imparted by sacraments, but does does so assuming the sacrament are in fact valid. However, in this kind of case, it is given under suspect circumstances where the dispensation might not even be needed!

These are mostly my own thoughts based on previous reading, so someone please correct or clarify if needed! :smiley:

On a side note, one of the neat things about the Eastern Orthodox is that they don’t worry about all the “legalese” I discussed in my above post when handling the sacraments.

They have what is known as “Divine economy”, which is a philosophy that the “authority of the Church” will correct any irregularities in the sacraments if it will aid the faithful.

The validity of this approach is of course a topic for a new thread, but its something I recently learned about in another thread. Reading my convoluted logic gives me an appreciation for why they adopted this approach, even though as a Roman Catholic, I can’t wholeheartedly endorse the approach. :slight_smile:

Just a thought!

Runningdude, that was a good explanation. I didn’t think about the “conditional” thing and the dispensation thing. That helps me target my inquiry.

Only baptism, confirmation, and Holy Orders leave “indelible marks.”

I don’t understand the question.

If someone rejects the Church and wants to leave, he is making the claim that the Church is not true. If the Church is not true, her sacraments carry no weight, and are nothing more than words, oil, and water.

Thus, there is no need to formally “leave.” It would be no more significant than quitting a bowling league. Just stop going.

“Hot new data”. I was a Catholic this Sunday. Today I’m not.

Is it good or bad? I have no idea.

=3DOCTORS;7260698]This is how I’ve always understood it. I’m particularly interested in this as it applies to converts, though it may apply somehow to cradle Catholics as well. I mean, when they are received into the Catholic Church, they receive the sacraments – possibly Baptism, certainly Confirmation and Eucharist. The Sacraments leave “indelible marks,” or so I was taught.

What I’m asking – provide references if you know of any, that’d be great – is, there’s no equivalent to an annulment for conversion and joining the Church, is there? I could think of only one possible scenarios, and again, these are my musings so don’t take them as anything authoritative.

One possibility - say the person was insane or under the influence (although it would be hard to think how they could get through an entire RCIA program without that being detected). Would their conversion be valid when they sobered up or got mental health treatment?

But say the person had an illness, and on his/her supposed deathbed he/she converted, then somehow recovered, and later didn’t even remember it and didn’t want to be Catholic.

I present these extreme scenarios in an attempt to figure out what to do, how to help, people who apparently converted for emotional reasons, or to please someone else, and then changed their mind – but who at the time thought it was what they wanted also. They couldn’t become “un-Catholic” then, the most they could do would be to be a non-practicing Catholic.

In evangelizing a person in that situation, we would want to try to get the person to see the decision as irreversible, and encourage them to re-commit to it, right? With love, of course.

The OPQ realy is a mute point. While one does always remain Catholic in the eyes of God and the CC; the sad fact is that “fallen away catholics” are now the second largest "religous body in the USA. THERE are a GREAT MANY catholics in name only.

The point I think your trying to make? is that unlike Protestants where church shoping is common; There is only One True Christian Church; that one know today as the CC.

**Acts.20:28 **“Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church [SINGULAR] of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son. “

Mt. 16: 15 He [Jesus] said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I [singular] tell you, you are Peter, [singular] and on this rock [singular] I will build my [singular] church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. [singular] 19 I [God singular] will give you [singular] the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you [singular] bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

**Eph. 4: 4 -8“**There is one body [One Church] and one Spirit, One set of beliefs] just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, [One God[/COLOR]] **one faith, **One set of doctrine and dogma] one baptism, By water in the Trinity] one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.

**AND LOOK AT WHAT GOD PROMIES THOSE WHO LEAVE HIS CC:**eek:

Heb.6 Verses 4 to 10: For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened,Baptized into the CC] who have tasted the heavenly gift,Jesus in Catholic Holy Communion] and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit,Confirmed into the CC] and have tasted the goodness of the word of God [Had the TRUTHFULtaching of God’s Word by His CC] and the powers of the age to come, if they then commit apostasy, since they crucify the Son of God on their own account and hold him up to contempt. For land which has drunk the rain that often falls upon it, and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles**, it is worthless and near to being cursed; its end is to be burned.**

Love and prayers,
Pat

Great I’m going to be burn in hell. What a loving Father. Ps. Are you happy about that?

I have no idea either. What do you think?

Canonically, the difference is very important. Formally leaving, canonically, is far more significant than just stopping going to Mass etc.

Sorry you are going to burn in hell. If it’s relevant to this thread, it would be interesting to know why you think and chose such.

No Christian is happy about anyone suffering hell.

God as a loving Father doesn’t mean Hell doesn’t exist or is contradictory to God as loving Father.

=Koko81;7270305]Great I’m going to be burn in hell. What a loving Father. Ps. Are you happy about that?

NOTE the following friend,

No neither I nor God nor any informed, Practicing Catholic is happy about what you freely decided; freelly chose! Please don’t blame God for your VERY OWN decissions.:o

TWO THINGS you NEED TO KNOW:

  1. Mark.3: 29 " but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin" – THIS IS THE ONLY UNFOGIVABLE SIN
    therefore where YOU CHOOSE to spend Eternity remains in your control

  2. ** 1John.1 Verses 8 to 10:** "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."

** 1John.5 Verses 16 to 17**"If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. ** There is sin which is mortal**; I do not say that one is to pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, ** but there is sin which is not mortal. **

** John.20 Verses 20 to 23**]" When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. ** Jesus said to them ** again, “Peace be with you. ** As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” ** And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

My friend in Christ you would be much beter of seng fogiveness rather than pity.

May God bless you, and grant you Mercy and Understanding.

Pat

For instant, back when the Catholic Church had a greater role in secular functions, remaining Catholic “on paper” could prevent you from marrying at all. When you formally renounced the faith, the Church would unbind you from the marriage laws so that you could marry validly outside the Church, even though your soul would be in grave danger.

Today, one could pursue “secular” marriage, although without the proper dispensation, it would not be truly valid. Although, without faith that the Church is true, indeed why would the renounced/lapsed Catholic care?

But so what? From the perspective of the person leaving, there is no difference. If the Church is false, leaving is no different from quitting a club. To the person leaving, there is no canon.

Formally leaving, i.e., telling the Church, “I quit,” acknowledges the authority of the Church. But if someone is leaving, doesn’t he reject the same authority? Thus, formally leaving is contradictory.

I think this may be the first time I’ve quoted my own post directly like this.:shrug: I would like to re-emphasize the part in bold. More of this to the convert having second thoughts :hug3: and less of this :slapfight: If people are mistaken, being adversarial towards them isn’t really constructive, is it? :tsktsk: Yes, the Church teaches what it teaches, I’m not suggesting watering it down, but let’s try to be patient and charitable, hm?

Koko81-too funny:D
Hum. Yeah. I found out on this forum, of all places, that I have been RC all my life because I was baptized Catholic. Who knew?
Yep. Never mind my bio mom did NOT want me baptized…since I was born in a unwed mother’s home run by the RC church, it was done anyway.
Yep.
My mother even legally changed my birth name ahem-the name I was baptized with by the good priests and nuns -but how do you undo a baptism? Guess you don’t.
So.
I am catholic. According to the rules of the RC church. I don’t pay it any mind, however. I probably should get the certificate-hey…just to have it.

Hi 3DOCTORS,

As far as the law of the Church is concerned, a person could pursue such a question by using the judicial procedures as they are given in the Code of Canon Law. Yes, these procedures would be the same as those used for so-called “annulments.”

The fundamental basis for a person to even introduce such a claim is cc. 124-126. vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__PE.HTM If, then, a person is truly insane or acts out of force or fear or ignorance or error, he might be able to claim that his baptism or profession of faith was not valid and therefore his reception into the Church was also not valid.

For someone who has gotten to the point of not caring what the Church says, such a process would never be initiated. I have never heard of it actually being done, frankly. But, it’s there and could be used.

Dan

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