If you’re (literally) an Irish Catholic, and you want to leave the Roman Catholic Church, you now have an easy way out.
Hundreds of like-minded people have completed an “actus defectionis” or “declaration of defection” on the site since it went live last Wednesday.
They have completed a three-step process that enables users to get the formal letter required by church officials to change baptism records and allow former followers officially to leave the faith. The document needs to be signed, witnessed and sent to the parish where the person was baptised.
Cormac Flynn, a 29-year-old website designer who describes himself as agnostic, linked up last month with Grainne O’Sullivan and Paul Dunbar to create the online campaign, which also runs on Facebook and Twitter.
While this is a way to show your disapproval for the Church’s abuse/child-rape scandals, it may seem silly and frivolous to go through these motions. It’s not.
Why is this important to do if you no longer consider yourself a Catholic?
Formally defecting from the Catholic church also sends an “unambiguous message” that people with changed beliefs no longer wish to be included in head counts used to justify the church’s role in the state’s services, the campaigners say.
“There are many so-called lapsed Catholics as well as agnostics and atheists in Ireland but the church continues to count them as members,” said Dunbar. “Formally defecting will mean the church can no longer use their large membership to justify continued involvement in the provision of education and health services.”
If you do formally leave, you can’t get married in the church or have your funeral there… but there are plenty of secular alternatives for both.
There’s no minimum age requirement to do this, but the website suggests you be 18 before filling this out.
So far, 664 people have left the Church.
Will you be number 666?