Q. 1. Is it possible to quit the Catholic Church? As a child, I was baptised and confirmed in the Catholic Church. That was not my choice; it was my parent's choice. Since I left home, I have never practiced any religions. I am an atheist. I do not believe in God. I want to make sure that the Catholic Church is not counting me as one of its followers.
A. 1. Yes, it is possible to quit the Catholic Church.
Q. 2. How do I go about doing it?
A. 2. You must file a copy of the "Defectio ab Ecclesia catholica actu formali," ("Defection from the Catholic Church by a Formal Act"), with the Office of the Bishop.
An of defection includes 3 sections:
A) an internal act of will;
B) an external manifestation of that act; and
C) communication of the fact in writing to your local Bishop.
Q. 3. What does the "Defection from the Catholic Church by a Formal Act" Form look like?
A. 3. The following is a sample:
DECLARATION OF DEFECTION FROM THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
I ____________________________, do hereby give formal notice of my defection from the Roman Catholic Church. I want it to be known that I no longer wish to be regarded as a member of the Roman Catholic Church.
I further declare that I am aware of the consequences of this act regarding the reception of the sacraments of the Church, including the sacraments of the Eucharist, marriage and the sick and also with regard to burial.
I undertake to make this decision known to my next of kin and to ensure that they are aware of these circumstances in the case of my being incapacitated.
I acknowledge that I make this declaration under solemn oath, being of sound mind and body, and in the presence of a witness who can testify as to the validity of this document.
With the above Form, you should include a letter with the following PRINTED information:
Your full address,
The name under which you were baptised if married since,
The date of your baptism,
The parish Church of your baptism,
Your date of birth,
The name of your parents, and
The name of your godparents.
Q. 4. As a result of this process, will my Baptismal and Confirmation Certificates be destroyed by the Catholic Church as if they never existed?
A. 4. No. The processing of a "Declaration of Defection" means that an annotation of this declaration is made in the Baptismal register in the relevant parish and diocese. The actual data cannot be deleted from the Register as it is essential for the administration of Church affairs to maintain a register of all the people who have been baptised. Indeed it is of course a factual record of an event that happened.
Q. 5. Does the Vatican website have any information on this matter?
A. 5. Yes, you can view the document ACTUS FORMALIS DEFECTIONIS.