Once Catholic, always Catholic?

I always thought/was taught that once you were baptized Catholic, you couldn’t become “non-Catholic.” Rather, you’d be a fallen away Catholic. But a friend told me lately that she thought it was otherwise – that if someone renounced the Faith all together then the person was no longer Catholic.

This came up because my cousin is Catholic and getting married to a non-Catholic/Protestant outside the Church in April (any prayers would be MUCH appreciated!). She is in this situation where she does not believe in the Church or attend Mass anymore. My family and a few relatives that are Catholic are not intending to go to the “wedding” because she is getting “married” outside the Church. It sure wouldn’t matter all that much if she really wasn’t Catholic anymore. But I don’t buy that. I was wondering if there were some sources to back up my belief. I want to share them with my friend who thought otherwise. Thanks!!! :thumbsup:

Everyone can be redeemed at any time in their life.
To be redeemed you must be Baptised.
You cannot be Baptised more than once.
Therefore, Baptism has an everlasting effect.

That is established.

If you are Baptised, you are Catholic.
Fallen away Catholics are Baptised.
Baptism has everlasting effects.
Therefore, fallen away Catholics are, and will always remain, Catholic.

[quote=comgrad05]I always thought/was taught that once you were baptized Catholic, you couldn’t become “non-Catholic.” Rather, you’d be a fallen away Catholic. But a friend told me lately that she thought it was otherwise – that if someone renounced the Faith all together then the person was no longer Catholic.

This came up because my cousin is Catholic and getting married to a non-Catholic/Protestant outside the Church in April (any prayers would be MUCH appreciated!). She is in this situation where she does not believe in the Church or attend Mass anymore. My family and a few relatives that are Catholic are not intending to go to the “wedding” because she is getting “married” outside the Church. It sure wouldn’t matter all that much if she really wasn’t Catholic anymore. But I don’t buy that. I was wondering if there were some sources to back up my belief. I want to share them with my friend who thought otherwise. Thanks!!! :thumbsup:
[/quote]

When a person is Baptized they become Christian and are incorporated into Christ and the Catholic Church. They are Catholic by growing in the Catholic Faith and learning to live out the Catholic Faith in their lives. When a person no longer lives the Catholic Faith they are essentially no longer Catholic. They can leave the Catholic Church by a formal act.

Baptism leaves a permanent seal on the soul. So does Confirmation.

Whenever we rebel against our human fathers and run away from home never to return, does one cease to be the child of that father? Even if he changes his name?

After baptism, the child of our Eternal Father may change his name and identification to Protestant or another known religion, but he cannot change his baptismal DNA — ever! :nope:

Carole

How Do I Officially Leave the Catholic Church” was a topic extensively covered by the mighty Fr. Joe Horn, O.Praem. at the “100% Catholic” Forum, specifically at holyjoe.net/phpBB2_new/viewtopic.php?t=325

I once looked at a “born-again” friend who left the church and said,“Once a Catholic, always a Catholic”

She was bashing the Church in front of me. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I said the statement above.

I don’t think she appreciated it. However, I got my point across.

[quote=Br. Rich SFO]When a person is Baptized they become Christian and are incorporated into Christ and the Catholic Church. They are Catholic by growing in the Catholic Faith and learning to live out the Catholic Faith in their lives. When a person no longer lives the Catholic Faith they are essentially no longer Catholic. They can leave the Catholic Church by a formal act.
[/quote]

Please, Bro Rich,
Would you please give us Magisterial documentation (or a link to the document) for “when a person no longer lives the Catholic Faith they are essectially no longer Catholic.”?

Thank you,
Angel

It is my understanding that you can excommunicate yourself by not living the faith and holding opinions contrary to the faith. In that case, they still have the eternal mark of baptism and confirmation on themselves allowing them to confess and return at any time. However, if they have excommunicated themselves, they are not in a state of grace. So the answer is yes and no.

[quote=Angels Watchin]Please, Bro Rich,
Would you please give us Magisterial documentation (or a link to the document) for “when a person no longer lives the Catholic Faith they are essectially no longer Catholic.”?

Thank you,
Angel
[/quote]

No I can’t. That is why I worded what I said the way I did. Instead of saying that “The Church teaches that a person who no longer lives the Catholic faith is no longer a Catholic.” We do know that the Church specifically does say that a person who has left the Church by a formal act is no longer subject to the Canonical laws of the Catholic Church and that on the other hand, all Catholics ARE subject to it’s Canon laws.

I have yet for anyone to show me where the Church teaches “Once a Catholic, always a Catholic.” There is a rather poor book by the title.

“Once Baptized, always Baptized” yes I agree with that. Being Baptized makes a person a Christian! Being Baptized in the Methodist Community does not make one a Methodist forever. Nor does being Baptized in a Catholic Church make one a Catholic forever. Any more than being Baptized in a river make one a tadpole!

One quote from Fr. Joe Horn, O.Praem.:

[quote]Quote**:**

OK, my take on excommunication means that I’m no longer considered officially part of the RCC, being cut off from the Eucharist and other sacraments
AHA! As I suspected, you have misunderstood what the Church teaches about excommunication. Until your misconceptions are cleared up, all your judgments about the Church will be equally misinformed and therefore unreliable. Hopefully this discussion will take care of that.

No, excommunication does not mean no longer being a member of the Church. I thought we already covered this; was I not clear in my first reply in this thread? Membership is caused by baptism, and baptism imparts an indellible mark on the soul (called “character” in sacramental literature). From these two facts it can be clearly deduced that membership in the Church cannot be taken away, lost, revoked, abandoned, or repudiated.

Remember, we are not debating (or arguing) whether your beliefs or my beliefs are RIGHT or WRONG; we’re debating whether or not you accurately understand what the Church really does teach, and whether or not I accurately understand what you really do believe. So don’t reply, “Well, I disagree with the Church about that”. That much is obvious. It doesn’t help to point out that you do not believe in the existence of souls. What I’m trying to do here is clarify your misunderstandings about what the Church teaches, since it pains me (and should pain you) to think that you are rejecting the Church on the basis of gross misunderstandings of it. Of course, I hope you likewise clarify for me any and all misunderstandings that I have about your beliefs.

Excommunication is a punishment whereby you are STILL required (as a Catholic!) to attend Mass every Sunday, and worship God with your fellow Catholics, and adore Jesus really present in the Eucharist. You are NOT totally isolated from our Eucharistic Lord. You are not allowed to receive Holy Communion sacramentally, but that’s true of EVERYBODY who has unrepented mortal sin on their soul, not just “excommunicated” people. Finally, you CAN still receive one sacrament any time, namely the sacrament of RECONCILIATION (also known as the sacrament of Penance, also known as the sacrament of Confession). In fact, the REMOVAL of excommunication is as easy as the removal of ANY mortal sin: just hie thee to Confession (it’s free, fast, and FEELS GREAT AFTERWARDS!!! http://holyjoe.net/phpBB2_new/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif) and it’ll totally and permanently remove every mortal sin, venial sin, and excommunication that you might have, even if you’re only partially sorry about them.

[/quote]

cf. “How Do I Officially Leave the Catholic Church” was a topic extensively covered by the mighty Fr. Joe Horn, O.Praem. at the “100% Catholic” Forum, specifically at holyjoe.net/phpBB2_new/viewtopic.php?t=325

Br Rich,

Any more than being Baptized in a river make one a tadpole!

Ought not the above logic be: " anymore than being Baptized in a a river make one a river"?

But, Baptism can ONLY make one a Christian/Catholic, can it not?

What we are talking about here, I think, is whether there is perfect or imperfect “membership”.

As I’ve researched Catholicism, I have discovered it’s a lifestyle, a mindset…a heartset. I’ve yet to be confirmed, but my friends (Catholic and non) call me a Catholic. At first I corrected them, reminding them that I had not partaken in the Sacraments yet. Finally, one person said I’m a very faithful Catholic even if I haven’t partaken in the Sacraments because I so firmly believe the Truth and practice what I can.

That to say, just as there are those who practice what they can without being “officially” Catholic, there are also those who are commonly called “CINO”—Catholic in name only (that is to say, they can receive the Sacraments but aren’t practicing, or are eligible for the Sacrament of Reconciliation).

So does it depend on the intent of the question? Because when it really comes down to it, the question is whether or not one shares friendship with Christ. If I die before I’m confirmed, what will matter is not whether I was “officially” Catholic or not, but rather, whether I shared friendship with Christ. (I do not mean to say that communion with the Catholic Church should not be shared or that it is unimportant. Please don’t misunderstand that! :slight_smile: )

Am I on the right path? Please correct me if I’m wrong.

[quote=Sean O L]Br Rich,

Ought not the above logic be: " anymore than being Baptized in a a river make one a river"?

But, Baptism can ONLY make one a Christian/Catholic, can it not?

What we are talking about here, I think, is whether there is perfect or imperfect “membership”.
[/quote]

Tadpole is what came to mind.

Baptism does in fact make one a member of the Mystical Body of Christ the Church and as Vatican II says, “The Church subsists in the Catholic Church”. Externally they choose to be Catholic by the way they live out their Christianity or they choose to be some other form of Christian. If a person in my view decides not to live out the Catholic Faith any longer in their actions and they choose to instead, live as a Methodist. They are no longer Catholic but Methodist. They are not a Catholic-Baptist any more than a Methodist who becomes Catholic is a Methodist-Catholic. They have taken off the external wrapper of “Catholic” and put on Methodist. At the core they are still Christian by virtue of their Baptism. Yes they are still imperfectly attached to the Catholic Church, but are not in my view Catholic and the laws of the Catholic Church do not apply to them.

This discussion reminds me of last year, when President Reagan died. Someone made the comment that he should be considered our second Catholic President since, although he didn’t practice the Faith as an adult, he had been baptized in the Church when he was a baby.

One for the Gipper! :thumbsup:

Br Rich,

Tadpole is what came to mind.

O.K.

Baptism does in fact make one a member of the Mystical Body of Christ the Church and as Vatican II says, “The Church subsists in the Catholic Church”. Externally they choose to be Catholic by the way they live out their Christianity or they choose to be some other form of Christian.

Agreed.

If a person in my view decides not to live out the Catholic Faith any longer in their actions and they choose to instead, live as a Methodist. They are no longer Catholic but Methodist. They are not a Catholic-Baptist any more than a Methodist who becomes Catholic is a Methodist-Catholic. They have taken off the external wrapper of “Catholic” and put on Methodist. At the core they are still Christian by virtue of their Baptism.

Yet, in the (hopeful) event that these individuals attain Salvation and Heaven - then it will be because (through the Mercy of God) they have received a Grace. Inasmuch as there are no Methodists
or Baptists (as such) in Heaven - they will be Catholics: Members of the Mystical Body of Christ, which IS the Catholic Church. Is that not so?

Yes they are still imperfectly attached to the Catholic Church,

I agree! That is what I was looking for.

but are not in my view Catholic

I disagree within limits. If they DO attain Heaven - they will be Catholic prior to their deaths. A good question may be: “When does this happen?”

and the laws of the Catholic Church do not apply to them.

I respectfully disagree with this and provide the following from Dr. Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma:

It is defined Catholic Dogma that:



[font=Times New Roman]***"Membership of the Church is necessary for all men for salvation."*** (de fide)
Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma was "first published in German in 1952, under the title Grundriss der Kotholiken Dogmatik, by Verlag Herder, Freibury…(and) “first published in English in May, 1955, by The Mercier Press, Limited.” My copy in English was published by Tan Books and Publishers, Inc. 1974, page 312
[/font]
Dr. Ott, however, prefaced this Dogma on p. 311 of the cited work with:

§ 19. Membership of the: Church p. 311

  1. Inference

Among the members of the Church are not to be counted :
a) The unbaptised. Cf. I Cor. 5, 12: “What have I to do to judge them that are without (qui foris sunt)?” The so-called Baptism by blood and Baptism of desire, it is true, replace Sacramental Baptism in so far as the communication of grace is concerned, but do not effect incorporation into the Church, as they do not bestow the sacramental character by which a person becomes attached formally to the Church.

In spite of the opinion of Suarez, catechumens are not to be counted among the members of the Church. Even if they have the desire (votum) to belong to the Church, they are not really (actu) accepted into it. The Church claims no jurisdiction over them (D 895). The Fathers draw a sharp line of separation between catechumens and" the faithful." Cf. Tertullian, De praescr. 41 ; St. Augustine, In Ioan. tr. 44, 2.

b) Open apostates and heretics. Public heretics, even those who err in good faith (material heretics), do not belong to the body of the Church, that is to the legal commonwealth of the Church. However. this does not prevent them from belonging spiritually to the Church by their desire to belong to the Church (votum Ecclesiae) and through this, achieving justification and salvation.

According to the more probable opinion, represented by St. Bellarmine and most modern theologians (Palmieri, Billot, Straub, Pesch) against Suarez, Franzelin, and others, secret apostates and heretics remain members of the Church, because the loss of membership of the Church, just as much as its acquisition, on account of the visibility of the Church, can only result from external legally ascertainable facts.

cont:

cont:

c) Schismatics, as well as those who, in good faith, fundamentally reject the Church authority, or who dissociate themselves from the commonwealth of the faithful subject to her. Schismatics in good faith (material) like heretics in good faith, can, by a desire to belong to the Church (votum Ecclesiae), belong spiritually to the Church, and through this achieve justification and salvation.

d) Excommunicati vitandi (CIC 2258). Excommunicati tolerati, according to the opinion almost generally held today, which is confirmed by CIC 2266, remain members of the Church, even after the promulgation of the juridical judgment and even if they are deprived of many spiritual benefits. The view adopted by individual theologians (Suarez, Dieckmann) that excommunicati vitandi, also remain members of the Church, is not compatible with the teaching of the Encyclical" Mystici Corporis," for the latter speaks expressly of such who, for very grave crimes, have been severed by the legitimate authority from the body of the Church. By these, in consonance with the almost universal teaching of the theologians, excommunicati vitandi, and only these, are to be understood.

Although public apostates and heretics, schismatics and excommunicati vitandi are outside the legal organisation of the Church, still their relationship to the church is essentially different from that of the unbaptised.

As the baptismal character which effects incorporation in the Church is indestrustable, the baptized person, in spite of his ceasing to be a member of the Church, cannot cut himself off so completely from the Church, that every bond with the Church is dissolved. The obligations arising from the reception of Baptism remain, even if the use of the rights connected with it are withdrawn by way of punishment. Thus the Church claims jurisdiction over baptized persons who are separated from her.

Perhaps the following may also be of interest:

“A Catholic Dictionary,” by William E. Addis and Thomas Arnold. M.A., Third Edition, Revised, London, Kegan Paul, Trench, & Co., 1 Paternoster Square, 1885 states in its article on “Baptism” (p. 62) that: “It imprints a ‘character’ or indelible mark on the soul, whence it cannot be reiterated. [See under CHARACTER] It makes the recipient a member of Christ and of the Church, and makes it possible for him to receive the other sacraments.” So! Christian Baptism (using the correct form and matter and done by a person who has the intention required by the Church) - even if done by an Anglican, Methodist, Seventh Day Adventist, Jew or athiest makes the recipient a member of Christ and of the Church - that is, the Catholic Church! The same source (p.144) on the subject of “CHARACTER” includes the following::

"…Thus baptism stamps a man indelibly as a Christian and enables him to receive the other sacraments…

“… What can this language mean, if considered in connection with the fact that baptism, confirmation and order were never reiterated, except this, that these sacraments set a seal on the soul which could never be blotted out, by sin or even by apostacy?

Bro. Rich,

Yes they are still imperfectly attached to the Catholic Church, but are not in my view Catholic and the laws of the Catholic Church do not apply to them.

and

We do know that the Church specifically does say that a person who has left the Church by a formal act is no longer subject to the Canonical laws of the Catholic Church and that on the other hand, all Catholics ARE subject to it’s Canon laws.

Could you please explain why?

Below is a pre-1983 Code of Canon Law commentary as to why the laws did (at least up to the time of writing) apply:

**[font=‘MS Mincho’]

[font=Courier New][font=‘MS Mincho’]49. - II. Subjects of Law. 1. The natural law

obliges all men.[/font]

[font=Courier New] [/font]

[font=Courier New]Whoever has not the use of reason does not sin formally by transgressing the moral law because of ignorance; but another sins who induces him to do so. The same holds for an unlettered person who has the use of reason, but is ignorant of the precepts of right reason or conclusions Rowing from the first principles.[/font]

[font=Courier New]This seldom occurs in regard to the primary or general conclusions, but more often in the case of secondary precepts of the natural law.[/font]

[font=Courier New] [/font]

[font=‘MS Mincho’]50. - 2. The positive divine law of the New Testament obliges al1 men first of all to receive Baptism and thereby become members of the Church.[/font]

[font=Courier New] [/font]

[font=Courier New]Haying been made a Christian through Baptism, a person is then obliged to observe the other positive laws of the New Testament but only those that pertain to the reception of the Sacraments.[/font]

[font=Courier New] [/font]

[font=Courier New]The ceremonial and judicial laws of the Mosaic Code have been abrogated. Its moral enactments that are in harmony with the natural law continue and oblige in virtue of the natural law.[/font]

[font=Courier New] [/font]

[font=‘MS Mincho’]51. - 3. Ecclesiastical law obliges all baptized persons who have attained the use of reason and are seven years of age, and also children under seven years of age when the Church explicitly so rules.[/font]

[font=Courier New] [/font]

[font=Courier New]Therefore, even the excommunicated as well as heretics and schismatics are obliged by the laws of the Church. Generally, however, they do not sin by transgressing them because of inculpable ignorance.[/font]

[font=Courier New] [/font]

[font=Courier New]Some divines believe the Church does not intend to impose heretics who are in good faith those of her laws that are primarily ordained for personal sanctification (e.g., observance of Holv-days and days of fasting and abstinence); but that it is always forbidden to induce them to transgress such laws. Other laws (e.g., matrimonial impediments) enacted for the common good of Church oblige heretics, unless they are exempt as in C. 1070, 1099.[/font]

[font=Courier New] [/font]

[font=Courier New]…[/font]

[/font]**[/font][font=Courier New] [/font]

[font=Courier New]MORAL THEOLOGY, BY Fr. Heribert Jone, Translated and adapted by Fr. Urban Adelman, O.F.M. Cap., J.C.D. Imprimatur 1961. [/font]

[font=Courier New]Tan Books and Publishers, INC., 1993.[/font]

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