Should I “formally leave” the Church? #integrity


I’m weeks away from retirement in the US Navy. If there’s one thing I’d say I’ve learned, it’s my sense of integrity. I don’t believe certain Church teachings (i.e. can’t make myself believe something I find unconvincing). I should formally request to leave…or defect, right? I understand this would result in a note in my baptismal record. What practical effects would this actually have? Thanks for your understanding.


Once you are baptized Catholic you are always Catholic or at least as I understand it. You can stop going to church or deny certain dogma or doctrines, but you will always be Catholic. How you live or don’t live your faith is a free choice but the Holy Spirit is etched within you.I find your post hard to understand as you were not specific in your disagreement with the church. I read and reread your posts and still didn’t understand. And I never knew or heard of putting a note on their baptismal record. I wonder if that is factual. You know who can answer this? Your confessor or a priest.


No, faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit.


The only effect it would have is that you’d presumably fall into a state of sin from being away from Jesus and the sacraments.

Priests aren’t going to go put a little note in your records like they do with kids at school. The Catholic Church is huge and they do not track everybody who leaves, whether or not the person announces their departure.

Once you are baptized Catholic, you’re always a Catholic in the eyes of the church. If you quit practicing, you’re just a fallen-away Catholic and you could just as easily come back one day, go to Confession and be Catholic again.


Hotel California. You cannot leave.

You cannot believe something ‘unconvincing’. Have you researched those things? Thoroughly? Once you retire and have some time, why don’t you do that? Talk to God. Ask Him to help. Find some trusted priests. Ask for a Spiritual Director. Check out some apologists like Scott Hahn. Pray some more. Play Devil’s Advocate and try to argue ‘the other side’ and see if approaching the teachings with the idea that they are RIGHT might start to make sense. Pray some more. Try going to daily Mass. Think long and hard about some of the teachings you DO believe in. Why do you believe them? What gives the Church ‘authority’ to you there, but not elsewhere? Pray to your guardian angel. Let yourself have also time to just sit and love and glorify God without thinking about ‘do I believe this or that’ and just “I love you, Lord, help me to serve You best”. Pray the rosary. Know that you are loved.




Hey all, thanks for the replies. I should have clarified that yes, I understand the “hotel California” teaching regarding baptism (#youcantleave).

My question relates to defection…which as I mentioned, I feel obligated to pursue (#integrity). See number 6 on this list stating “this act be noted in the baptismal registry“.


You’ve only been a member of CAF for one day , @WillPhillips .

Why not stay around and ask some questions about the teachings you don’t believe ?

Whatever you decide may you be blessed with love and peace .


Or as they say in the Navy: “Don’t give up the ship!”


Haha. Well in a sense that’s what I’d consider this is…getting my ship in order.


For sure. Not going anywhere just starting off on the right foot.

The questioning is actually what led me to this. I hope to never stop questioning. #openmindedness

I’m a source document guy and my questions that led to Canon 750-752 is some motivation for my post. These state I “must believe” and that a “submission of the intellect and will must be given“. As I mentioned above, believing something I’m not convinced of, is something I simply cannot do. I don’t see this as a choice…and hence my uncomfortableness with my current standing with the Church.


Yes, but… if you saw a part of the ship that you didn’t understand, you wouldn’t just throw it out. Imagine a guy who thought the ballast was just dead weight, or who thought the lifeboats were for fishing expeditions. :rofl:

It’s good that you are thinking about these things.


Ah, nice one. How about, being qualified, then realizing I’m missing some pages…and that my qual card isn’t actually completed.


This was overturned by a Moto Proprio about a decade ago.

No more formal defection.


You are required to believe everything that the Church teaches. If you learn that the Church teaches that the Virgin Mary was conceived without sin, you are required to believe it, even if you don’t know why the Church teaches that. Of course you are encouraged to do your own thinking and research, and to learn the reasons behind different Church teachings, but you must accept that the Church is right.

Think of it like this. If you place some water in the freezer it will eventually become ice. This is true, and everyone knows it, but how does it happen? To know that you need to have some knowledge in physics, but you don’t doubt that water will become ice when cold even without that knowledge.

Consider the teaching of the Church as undeniable evidence in the same way. Thus, when you encounter a confusing teaching, do not think that the Church must be wrong, but that you do not yet understand.


Thanks for the response. I think you’ve articulated quite precisely why I can no longer consider myself Catholic.

And Canon 750 further states, “therefore, one who rejects those propositions which are to be held definitively is opposed to the doctrine of the Catholic Church.” So, not only am I not fulfilling my requirements, but I’m considered opposed to the Church.


I don’t know what to tell you.

If you don’t believe that God has instituted the Catholic Church and given authority to teach the Faith, why not simply say so? If you do believe God instituted the Catholic Church, then you would have to accept what is taught, like the Canon you object to says. If you don’t believe God instituted the Church, why does it take a specific Canon you disagree with to make you leave?


So this goes back to my original post. The more I look into things honestly/with integrity, the more I’m conflicted with my standing. In sum:

  • I can’t make myself believe something I find unconvincing…a specific church doctrine for example (i.e. it’s not like I can choose to lie to myself)
  • I am required to believe all Church doctrines definitively (per Canon, and as you state)
  • If not I am considered opposed to the Church

…therefore my original question, should I just be honest and leave.

(perhaps I should just admit to the rhetorical question I asked in the first place, lol)


I’m not familiar with qual card, but I guess you mean that if you discovered that you were not qualified (because something was missing), you would be required to disclose it to the appropriate authority.


This is the part we are having such a hard time understanding. If you are having doubts or are misunderstanding something, then why not research and learn more until you do understand why the Church teaches it.

Having doubts is not a sin…but abandoning the Church over it would be, especially if you haven’t researched and read and talked to many priests about it.

You are unconvinced now, but who knows if digging a little deeper would help explain it to you. You haven’t even clarified for us what exactly it is that you are having problems with. Are you just looking for a Get Out of Jail Free card?

You say there are things you agree with the Church about. Why not cling to those and keep asking questions about the difficult issues?

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