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.

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