Hold your apostasy

Hold your apostasy

Ed Peters notes a recent decision from the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts that says makes it harder to prove that someone has formally defected from the Church.

In some countries, part of your taxes goes to the support of the religious body you say you belong to. Thus if you want a tax break, you sign a form renouncing your connection to that church.

Not so fast, says the Council. That may be all well and good for Caesar, but not for the Church. That’s because if these were formal defections, i.e. schism, apostasy, and so on, it would have ramifications for matters like marriage and declarations of nullity.

My impression is that US tribunals had already adopted a narrow reading of “formal defection” to begin with, so the actual impact of this Notification on raw numbers in US marriage cases will be small, but to the degree the Notification has any effect in this area, it would be to increase, not decrease, the number of annulments.

Other interesting questions are raised as well, including the historical one of whether, under this stricter interpretation, 16th-century Protestant Reformers would have been considered to have “formally defected” from the Church. Hmm.

Technorati Tags: , ,

  • I think it has more to do with JPII and PB’s notion of Universal Salvation.  My understanding is that they decided that the “Catholic Church” is elastic, and can be stretched to encompass EVERYTHING.

    This seems in keeping with that…uh..idea.

    “Cardinal Walter Kasper, Prefect of Vatican Council for Promoting Christian Unity: “… today we no longer understand ecumenism in the sense of a return, by which the others would ‘be converted’ and return to being Catholics.  This was expressly abandoned by Vatican II.” (Adista, Feb. 26, 2001)

    Kasper was appointed specifically to this post by John Paul II to express his views on this very topic.  This is because John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who both worked closely with Kasper, held the exact same thing. 

    Benedict XVI, Address to Protestants at World Youth Day, August 19, 2005: “And we now ask: What does it mean to restore the unity of all Christians?… This unity, we are convinced, indeed subsists in the Catholic Church, without the possibility of ever being lost (Unitatis Redintegratio, nn. 2, 4, etc.); the Church in fact has not totally disappeared from the world.  Other the other hand, this unity does not mean what could be called ecumenism of the return: that is, to deny and to reject one’s own faith history.  Absolutely not!” (L’Osservatore Romano, August 24, 2005, p. 8.)”

  • I wouldn’t read more into this than is there. This is an opinion from the Council for Legislative Texts, not an authoritative document on ecumenism.

    I also don’t think Benedict’s address to the Protestants means what you think it means.

    Kasper on the other hand is notorious for his views on ecumenism, but I think he’s outside the stated norm.

  • Why would someone formally register their defection? As I said in the entry itself, quoting Ed Peters, it is prevalent in other countries where you are taxed based on your religious affiliation.

  • It depends on the person.  A few bitter ex-Catholics send snippy letters to the bishop “resigning” from the Church, hoping to get an official notice of excommunication.

  • Dom,

    I hope you’re right, but I don’t think you are.  With PB, it remains to be seen.  With JPII, (granted I’m not a theologian, nor qualified to definitively interpret his writings) I have been left with a strong impression that for hime, “unity” and “Church” were mushy concepts that resulted in UNIVERSAL SALVATION.

    And by Universal Salvation, I don’t just mean God’s intent, but in actuallity (as JPII said “all of creation”).  That is why, IMO, the push for evangelization STOPPED in the Church, and there has been such a push on the ecumenical and inter-religious front.

    Even Iesus Dominus (which I think PB pushed to have released to head off the obvious implications of JPII’s Assisi adventures, Quran kissing and other episodes) seems to say, “NO, we are still the Catholic Church, and we are special!”  At the same time, though, I am left with the impression that Iesus Dominus is saying that, “we’re all family, I’m just the big brother, and Dad told me to keep you guys in line.”

    Again, these are my impressions, and so when I read something like this (your post), if fits uncomfortably neatly with that impression.

  • Eric: Obviously the Vatican isn’t only concerned with the problems of American Catholics. These decisions apply to Catholics in many countries, including those where such laws apply.

    As both Ed and Jimmy Akin have said—being much more familiar with canon law than I am—the ruling will have a wider impact than possibly intended, but let’s give the council a little benefit of the doubt that they have thought these things through a little bit.

    Perhaps you don’t have all the information.

  • Whatever.  Huge numbers of Catholics just walk right out the front door, never to be seen again.  No matter how we’d like to classify them.  They’re now Baptists, Methodists, Secularists, New Agers and, or, and……

    This decree is management from 50,000 feet up.  It would be nice if someone would get some common sense on this topic.

    Too much care has been taken to retain people who aren’t even in the building anymore.  Hell, they’re not even listening.  They’re out shopping.