When does a person stop being a Catholic?


When does a person stop being a Catholic?

I guess a person starts being a Catholic when they are baptised. But when does he/she stop being one.

Do they have to make a formal declaration?

Can a person who basically does nothing to support the Catholic Church or to uphold his faith, like going to Mass on Sunday, still claim to be Catholic?

Should that person be entitled to the benefits of the Catholic Church?

What if that person ignores the commandments and makes up their own rules for living their lives?


When the vanity of religious groups become more important than the safety of the world.


What kind of idiotic response is that?


Michelle Arnold, a staff apologist for Catholic Answers, wonders why anyone would care to formally leave the Catholic Church. If someone no longer respects its authority, whats the point of a formal announcement?

Jimmy Akin, independent apologist (but famous around these parts), mentions that the 1983 Code of Canon Law is vague about the requirements of a formal declaration. A common interpretation of it used to be:

The following may be considered to have defected from the Catholic Church by a formal act: those who have made a public declaration of their abandonment of the Catholic faith, either in writing or orally before two witnesses, and those who have formally enrolled by some external sign in another Christian church or another religion

But Akin notes that a recent document clarifies the Code and makes the requirements of a formal defection much, much harder.

The upshot is that in order to formally defect one must:

1) Decide to leave the Church (which supposes an act of heresy, apostasy, or schism),
2) Put this decision into effect ("realize" it),
3) Manifest this decision externally by submitting it in writing to the Ordinary (normally the bishop) or one's pastor, and
4) Get the Ordinary or pastor to agree that you really have performed the act of will to leave the Church described above and thus committed heresy, apostasy, or schism.

It is then to be noted in the parish baptismal register that you have so defected.


As for myself, I agree with Michelle. I realized I no longer believed in the authority of the Catholic Church in August of last year and left the Church, but didn’t see the point of a formal declaration.

Sure, if s/he still identifies as Catholic. But s/he is doing a poor job, and is in a state of mortal sin.


I will keep you in my prayers…teachccd


A person can never cease being a Catholic. It is not ontologically possible.

Formal defection releases a person from certain canon law obligations related to marriage. It does not make one “not Catholic.”

Notorious defection-- different from formal defection-- makes one an apostate, heretic, or schismatic. However, that still does not make one “not Catholic.” It merely makes one a Catholic who is in error, and one who is barred from the Sacraments until one is reconciled.


Define benefits.

Then they are a Catholic who is in error, possibly in mortal sin, and certainly in jeopardy regarding their eternal destination. However they are still very much a Catholic by virtue of their baptism.


:smiley: :cool:

Let me see if I understand Catholic teaching correctly: If you were baptized as a Catholic (as an infant, without your consent), you are considered a Catholic forever. You can become a Catholic without your choice or consent, and are destined to be a Catholic forever.

Do I understand correctly?


Thanks for the information.

I was kind of wondering about the average person’s right to call himself Catholic and actually be correct in that statement. I know there are lapsed Catholics or other fill in the blank Catholics, but I thought there might be an actual point where you can no longer consider yourself a Catholic due to neglect.

Also, what if you just totally try to justify things like using fake IDs to gain services you’re not entitled to, and other forms of fraud.


Do you imagine that one must be sinless to be Catholic?




Yes. Your soul is indelibly marked. You can be a non-practicing Catholic or an apostate Catholic, but you’ll always be Catholic. It’s not that you’re “considered” a Catholic. You are a Catholic.

I hope that helps. :smiley:


So one is Catholic because of baptism, even if this is done without belief or consent? That doesn’t sound like Christianity…it sounds more like branding cattle!


This definition is pretty meaningless. And it is why the inflated statistics of Catholic ‘membership’ are equally meaningless.

Many Catholics don’t go to church; don’t believe; don’t support the church in any way; AND are members of another church or religion, card-carrying, converted, attending, contributing, tithe-paying members of *another *church or religion–and you call them ‘Catholic’.


A person stops being a Catholic when, all of a sudden, they wake up. (This is from personal experience, so no disrespect intended.) Sometimes, it’s a devastating transition; other times, it is a slow and painless one.

Whether formal declarations are made or not, it varies from person to person.

Even without going to church or supporting it, someone can, of course, claim to be Catholic, especially if they believe in the same things a church-going Catholic does.

As for your third question, you’d have to elaborate on these “benefits.”

If the person lives and learns without the help of the Commandments, then, perhaps we can call them “lapsed Catholic.”

Ironically Yours, Blade and Blood


Th Catholic Church is not like a club. Your baptism makes an indelible mark on your soul. As for lapsed Catholics, I have met many in the course of my time in the Legion of Mary, and I can’t think of one who would not be welcomed back into practising their faith again. I’m talking about all kinds of people - living in sin, criminals, if they would only go to confession, they would be welcomed. There is always a road back to the Church.

As for people who call themselves Catholic but do not seem to conform to what you or I would call Catholicism, I could not judge them - we are all sinners and it is not our place to condemn others, just to pray for them.


:smiley: lol I would have to say I can BACK to the faith when 'all of a sudden", I woke up! Well, I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t just “wake up” on my own but certainly feel that God 'woke me up". Praise the Lord for not giving up on His wayward daughter!

The 30 odd years I was a “non-practicing” Catholic and/or a nominal Methodist I didn’t consider myself a Catholic. I didn’t do anything to formally leave the Church…just quit going to mass.


No, you are not “considered” a Catholic forever. You **are **a Catholic forever. As I said, ontologically baptism imparts a character to your soul.

So, yes, if you are baptized a Catholic you are always Catholic.


I guess a person starts being a Catholic when they are baptised. But when does he/she stop being one.

That is an easy one. You stop being Catholic when you start to disbelieve her teachings. I should say you stop ACTING Catholic for once you are Baptized Catholic you are Catholic for ever. But acting unCatholic is when you act uncatholic. Voting for politicians that agree with or abide in vote for immoral things. And me not being a Bishop or Priest I can say it and since the Clergy is to afraid to say it. Any Catholic who voted for Obama Biden Kennedy and the rest of those demonic voting politicians IS NOT ACTING CATHOLIC!!! How could the most Catholic states like Rhode Island the most Catholic by the way Massachusetts New York voted more in Obination’s favor ( who is for baby murder) than the right to life candidate. For the Clergy that reads this, IT IS ABOUT TIME TO GET SOME COURAGE AND SPEAK OUT AGAINST THIS APOSTASY. Scoob


I am also taking this another step further. I have not heard many priests ever speak out against voting for these apostates like Joe Biden Nancy pelosi Ted heelllleelllppp Kennedy and so forth. IT IS A SIN A SIN A MORTAL SIN!!! ANY OF YOU CATHOLICS TO VOTE FOR PRO DEATH CANDIDATES!!! I am so disgusted with the Bishops in the northeast and any highly Catholic state that won’t give up pomp and circumstance to teach our faith. It is time that priests start talking about things of today. Scoob.


Or if you care to adjust your thinking, it sounds like parents’ decisions to have their babies vaccinated. The parents are acting in a way they firmly believe to be the very best and safest course for their children. Once vaccinated, those children cannot be considered “un-vaccinated” even if they wish it to be so.

Similarly the Church is able to recognize/accept some forms of baptism received by other Christians, depending on the circumstances. (In a similar way, perhaps a baby vaccinated in Canada with parental proof of that fact, would not be re-vaccinated in the USA.)

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