Q. 1. What does the word "Apostasy" mean?
A. 1. The word means that a person who leaves, not just the Catholic Church, but who abandons Christ Himself, is materially an apostate. He is formally an apostate through willful, and therefore culpable, repudiation of the Christian faith.
Apostasy means to fall away from the truth. Therefore, an apostate is someone who has once believed and then rejected the truth of God. Apostasy is a rebellion against God because it is a rebellion against truth.
While dictionaries define "apostasy" as a total desertion of or departure from one's religion, this is not necessarily true. If a Protestant deserts or departs from his religion, he is not an apostale because he is not departing from the truth. The Protestant Church is a break away from the Catholic faith. But, if a Catholic deserts or departs from his religion, he is an apostalote because he is departing from the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and True faith.
Apostasy falls into 3 categories:
(1) When a baptized person totally rejects or abandons the Catholic faith while continuing to call himself a Christian. This results in an automatic penalty of excommunication.
(2) When a priest who has received the major orders and withdraws without permission, rejecting the obligations of the clerical state (priestly duties), this results in an automatic penalty of excommunication.
(3) When a religious person, a brother or a sister, with perpetual vows leaves without permission from the community (religious Order) with the intention of not returning, or actually remains outside the community for 30 days without permission, this also results in an automatic penalty of excommunication.