According to this article one is catholic if:

There are clear, classical and traditional requirements of being a Catholic, most recently expressed by Pius XII. He states that the members of the Church are those who:

  • Are baptised
  • Profess the faith
  • Have not separated themselves from the body
  • Have not been excluded by legitimate authority (viz. by a perfect excommunication by the Roman Pontiff)

Do the ones who separate themselves from the Church have to still follow the rules to exercise the validity of certain things?

For example: a "former" catholic getting married outside of the church. Is this marriage valid? As a catholic you have to get married with a catholic priest. But when you declare you aren't catholic, does this still apply to consider the marriage valid? Will the catholic church recognize this marriage as a valid marriage as it recognizes the marriages of non-Catholics?

Sub-question: How does one separate from the body of Christ(Catholic Church)?

  • I don't think Pius XII was giving you an "option" to leave the Church and be in some sort of valid state of grace. From a Catholic point of view, your apostasy puts you in a state of mortal sin, i.e. you're on the path toward eternal hell. This is not a clever loophole to try to get around Catholic rules about marriage.
    – workerjoe
    Aug 1, 2022 at 15:49
  • @workerjoe, I understand that part. I more wonder if a practicing catholic should recognize these marriages as valid.
    – Grasper
    Aug 1, 2022 at 15:54
  • +1 I think this question would benefit from narrowing the scope to the more specific one about marriage. Is there a difference between two Protestants getting married and one former Catholic turned Protestant and another Protestant getting married, according to the Catholic Church? Aug 1, 2022 at 23:42

1 Answer 1


Formal defection would allow a person to marry validly outside the Church, but that is no longer possible.


Canon 96:

Can. 96 By baptism one is incorporated into the Church of Christ and is constituted a person in it with the duties and rights which are proper to Christians in keeping with their condition, insofar as they are in ecclesiastical communion and unless a legitimately issued sanction stands in the way.


I interpret that as baptism binds a person to Canon Law in the view of the Church and therefore a person who left the Church and married would not be vaildly married in the eyes of the Church.

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