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I was a Catholic. I did my sacraments according to the Catholic lifestyle. When I was born, I was baptized. Around age of 8 years, I got my First Holy Communion, and around 14 years of age, I went to confirmation classes and got confirmed.

Most of these things were done to live up to my parents expectations. I did not pay attention or go to church so when I was 20, I got myself excluded from the church by sending a formal letter to my parish. I think I filled in the form "Defectio ab Ecclesia catholica actu formali," or "Defection from the Catholic Church by a Formal Act" (the information can be found here).

I remember filling in the following information:

  1. Name
  2. Full address
  3. Where I was baptised
  4. Date of my baptism
  5. Parish Church of my baptism
  6. Date of birth

I did not fill in:

  1. The name of my parents
  2. The name of my godparents.

I got a confirmation letter back stating I had officially left the Roman Catholic church.

I have recently found peace with myself. In my search for meaning with life, I found myself back in the church. My questions are:

  • Can I re-join the catholic church after leaving it? I guess I got wiped-out from the registers. I believe I have the confirmation letter stating that I left the church, send by my parish when I wanted out.
  • Do I still have the right to a Catholic wedding & funeral in the future?
  • How does God see me after leaving the Catholic church?

I agree that my first thing would be to talk to my local priest. I do not have good relationship with my current priest. I find it somewhat embarrassing and am afraid of being judged for my previous actions by leaving the church. Should I bring the letter stating that I have left the church? Or do I need some other documentation with me?

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    Welcome to the site. We're glad you're here. – 3961 Apr 11 '15 at 0:11
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    You excommunicated yourself simply "by sending a formal letter to [your] parish"‽ And the parish sent you a letter confirming your excommunication? Talk to a priest or bishop about lifting your excommunication; this will probably require going to confession and receiving absolution. – Geremia Apr 11 '15 at 2:46
  • Hi Jayarathina, Thank you. That is correct. I guess i am excommunicated by filling out a formal paper stating my leave of the catholic church. I agree that i should talk to my priest about it. But i guess i am afraid of being judged and not being permitted... That is why i'm posting the question here. Thank you for your understanding – Petar Apr 12 '15 at 15:42
  • @Petar If you have just sent that letter and did nothing else, then technically, you are not excommunicated. I promise you, priests have seen and heard more worse things then your case. You will not be judged. And there is no way a priest will reject your application to re-enter the church. What is the worse that could happen? You can always stand up and leave. If you are still worried, meet a different parish priest and talk to him about you fears of being judged etc... He probably might suggest a different solution. Do it for God, don't mind the little inconveniences. – Jayarathina Madharasan Apr 13 '15 at 7:30
  • AFAIK CC considers baptism to be irreversible. You can not "quit CC". Excommunication is just a punishment - you are suspended in your member rights, but you are still a member. @JayarathinaMadharasan according to CIC (1364:1) an act of apostasy automatically results in an excommunication punishment (it does not matter if anybody knows about the act). I have been excommunicated too. Twice - both times automatically as I failed to comply with the formal procedure, which was then very comlicated in my country. – abukaj Apr 15 '18 at 21:19
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I believe I have the confirmation letter stating that I left the church....

This is a serious issue. From what you say, I am assuming that you have formally defected from the Catholic Church. By law, this act would have been entered in your baptismal register.Actus formalis defectionis ab Ecclesia catholica If this is true, then just going to confession would not be sufficient.

I guess I got wiped-out from the registers.

This is impossible. They will still have your records. Please check with them. The actual details cannot be deleted from the Register. (Remembering the date of your baptism will help you a lot in rejoining the church)

Can I re-join the catholic church after leaving it?

Yes you can. But to know how to do this you have to contact your parish priest. Preferably the one at the parish where you got baptized. The rules change from diocese to diocese.

If you meet the conditions of excommunication (automatic or otherwise - ie., apostasy, heresy, or schism, or some combination of those), then you would also need to have the excommunication remitted. But remember that even an excommunicated Catholic is still a Catholic. You really need to talk to your parish priest about this.

But you don't have to go thru RCIA and you don't have to be baptized again.

Do I still have the right to a catholic wedding & funeral in the future?

If you re-join, you will have those rights. But make sure that you have set the records straight and "regularize" your status with the Church. The records in your baptismal register should be amended to note your return.

How does God see me after leaving the catholic church?

You are still a child of God. God still loves you and wants to have a relationship with you. Never forget the Father figure in the parable of prodigal son:

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. - Luke 15:20

It is the father who saw the son first. Son was just walking, but the father ran towards his son with compassion for him.


[P.S: By the changes which came into effect by the motu proprio Omnium in mentem dated 26 October 2009, it is no longer possible to attempt a formal defection. But public defection (defected notoriously) is still possible]

  • What is the difference between a formal defection and public defection? And in my case i guess i left the church after 2009 – Petar Apr 12 '15 at 15:57
  • Formal defection releases a person from certain canon law obligations related to marriage. Notorious defection -- different from formal defection -- makes one an apostate, heretic, or schismatic. Also after 2009 is not helpful because even though the motu proprio was issued in 2009, episcopal conferences would have taken couple of years to implement it. Talk to your priest. – Jayarathina Madharasan Apr 12 '15 at 17:19
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You can certainly re-join the Catholic Church. Your baptismal record should not have been wiped out; I believe parishes are required to keep records of all baptisms that were ever performed there. I wouldn't be surprised if the same goes for confirmations, but I'm not sure. To the best of my knowledge, all you need to do is to go to confession, confess all your sins since your last confession, and you're all set.

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    In case you're scared by "confess all your sins since your last confession," don't be. I once had to begin a confession with "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned; my last confession was 25 years ago." I was scared going into the confessional, but the priest handled it very well, and I was overjoyed when I emerged from the confessional. – Andreas Blass Apr 10 '15 at 21:48
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    Baptismal records (and those of confirmations and other ecclesial events) are never expunged. It's a historical record of an actual fact. – Andrew Leach Apr 12 '15 at 21:09
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I recently learned that if someone is excommunicated from the church it does not mean that they are condemned but rather holds a view that is contrary to what the Catholic Church teaches. Once the person has come to a point of reconciliation with the church the excommunication is lifted and the person will be in full communion once again. Find a Priest that you trust, and sit down and talk to him.

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