According to the Roman Catholic church, what is the status of someone who was baptised as a baby and left the church as a teen? Does it matter if he had Confirmation? Does it matter if he claims no religion or if he converted to another one?

I've heard that "once a Christian always a Christian", but I've also heard that people who die not in a state of Christian grace are in trouble. What does the church teach about a person who leaves?

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  • @user4275 Are you asking if one can undo their baptism? E.g. baptized when a baby now grown and want nothing to do with the decision of those who baptized them? – user13992 Jul 24 '14 at 19:11
  • @FMShyanguya yes I would like to know that. – user13720 Jul 24 '14 at 21:05
  • @user13720 Please see the succinct answer by brasshat. The answer is one cannot undo their baptism, but one can renounce their Catholic Faith. A serious matter and the starting place would with one' parish priest/where one was baptised. – user13992 Jul 27 '14 at 22:55

Baptism leaves an indelible mark on the soul, but heresy separates one from the Church.

Canon 2314, 1917 Code of Canon Law: “All apostates from the Christian faith and each and every heretic or schismatic: 1) Incur ipso facto excommunication

Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum (# 9), June 29, 1896:  “… can it be lawful for anyone to reject any one of those truths without by that  very fact falling into heresy? – without separating himself from the Church? –  without repudiating in one sweeping act the whole of Christian teaching?  For  such is the nature of faith that nothing can be more absurd than to accept some  things and reject others.  Faith, as the Church teaches, is that supernatural virtue  by which… we believe what He has revealed to be true, not on account of the  intrinsic truth perceived by the natural light of human reason [author: that is,  not because it seems correct to us], but because of the authority of God  Himself, the Revealer, who can neither deceive nor be deceived… But he who  dissents even in one point from divinely revealed truth absolutely rejects all  faith, since he thereby refuses to honor God as the supreme truth and the formal  motive of faith.”

  • This is almost identical to Canon 1364 in the 1983 Code. – Andrew Leach Jun 18 '14 at 21:38
  • Thank you. Can you say more about how the church defines "apostate" (or heretic), or is that a book? – user13720 Jun 19 '14 at 1:25
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    @user4275 When someone denies a single Dogma they become a heretic. An apostate is someone who rejects the faith completely. – user Jun 19 '14 at 2:19
  • On the other hand Canon 1323 seems to allow for a lightening of the penalty for those who did something as a teen, or at any rate before age 16. – Matt Gutting Jun 19 '14 at 3:18
  • @Apocalypse_info_click_here technically a person is not canonically a heretic until they have been corrected and/or offered the chance to recant their scandalous error by the hierarchy of the church. Before that...they are just someone who is wrong about a doctrine...whether from presupposition or ignorance. – user5286 Jun 19 '14 at 8:12

I'll start with the "state of Christian grace" bit. The common teaching (and probably not limited to Catholics) is that people who die not in a state of grace do not go to heaven. BUT, the church also teaches that we don't know who is in a state of Christian grace, or not.

One of the teachings of the Roman Catholic church is that once a person has been baptized, he or she remains baptized for life. The church also teaches that just not going to church is not sufficient to leave the Catholic church; in order to leave, one must formally renounce one's membership in the church, but even this does not undo baptism.

The church would say that one who has renounced membership will probably not be in a state of grace at the time of death, but that there is no way for a human to know for sure whether the dying person is, or is not in a state of grace.

  • Thank you. Does "formally renounce" mean some official process, or just saying and meaning it? – user13720 Jun 19 '14 at 1:27

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