Formal act of defection from the Catholic Church

Last updated
Scale of justice, canon law.svg
Part of a series on the
Canon law of the
Catholic Church
046CupolaSPietro.jpg Catholicismportal
Logo of The Campaign for Collective Apostasy in Spain, calling for defection from the Catholic Church. Apostasialogo.jpg
Logo of The Campaign for Collective Apostasy in Spain, calling for defection from the Catholic Church.

A formal act of defection from the Catholic Church (Latin : actus formalis defectionis ab Ecclesia catholica) was an externally provable juridic act of departure from the Catholic Church, [1] which was recognized from 1983 to 2010 in the Code of Canon Law as having certain juridical effects enumerated in canons 1086, 1117, and 1124. The concept of "formal" act of defection was narrower than that of "notorious" (publicly known) defection recognized in the 1917 Code of Canon Law [2] [3] and still narrower than the concept of "de facto" defection. In 2006, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts specified in what a formal act of defection from the Catholic Church consisted. [4] In 2009, all mention of a formal act of defection from the Catholic Church and of any juridical effects deriving from it was removed from the Code. [5]

Procedure from 2006 to 2009

Between 1983 and 2006, the Catholic Church in Germany and some other countries treated as a formal act of defection from the Catholic Church the declaration that some made to the civil authorities for the purpose of avoiding the extra tax traditionally collected by the state for the benefit of whatever Church the tax-payer was a member of. The Church in those countries considered people who made this declaration as no longer entitled to the privileges of membership of the Church, such as having a wedding in church.

The 2006 notification [6] ruled that such declarations did not necessarily indicate a decision to abandon the Church in reality. It laid down that only the competent bishop or parish priest was to judge whether the person genuinely intended to leave the Church through an act of apostasy, heresy, or schism. It also pointed out that single acts of apostasy, heresy or schism (which can be repented) do not necessarily involve also a decision to leave the Church, and so "do not in themselves constitute a formal act of defection if they are not externally concretized and manifested to the ecclesiastical authority in the required manner."

The notification required therefore that the decision to leave the Church had to be manifested personally, consciously and freely, and in writing, to the competent Church authority, who was then to judge whether it was genuinely a case of "true separation from the constitutive elements of the life of the Church ... (by) an act of apostasy, heresy or schism."

If the bishop or parish priest decided that the individual had indeed made a formal act of defection from the Catholic Church making a decision on this matter would normally require a meeting with the person involved the fact of this formal act was to be noted in the register of the person's baptism. This annotation, like other annotations in the baptismal register, such as those of marriage or ordination, was unrelated to the fact of the baptism: it was not a debaptism (a term sometimes used journalistically): the fact of having been baptized remained a fact, and the Catholic Church holds that baptism marks a person with a seal or character that "is an ontological and permanent bond which is not lost by reason of any act or fact of defection".

Abrogation

The motu proprio Omnium in mentem of 26 October 2009 removed from the canons in question all reference to an act of formal defection from the Catholic Church. [5] [7] [8] Accordingly, "it is no longer appropriate to enter attempts at formal defection in the sacramental records since this juridic action is now abolished." [9]

In late August 2010, the Holy See confirmed that it was no longer possible to defect formally from the Catholic Church. [10] However, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin declared on 12 October 2010 that it intended to keep a register of those who expressed the wish to defect. [10] [11] Since this fell short of making an annotation in the baptismal register, CountMeOut (an association in the archdiocese that had been promoting formal defections from the Catholic Church) thereupon ceased to provide defection forms. [12] [13]

Although the act of "formal defection" from the Catholic Church has thus been abolished, public or "notorious" (in the canonical sense) [14] defection from the Catholic faith or from the communion of the Church is of course possible, as is expressly recognized in the Code of Canon Law. [15] Even defection that is not known publicly is subject to the automatic spiritual penalty of excommunication laid down in canon 1364 of the Code of Canon Law. However, when determining if a marriage is lawfully celebrated, Catholic baptism is now the sole determinant of public membership in the Catholic Church. [16]

See also

Related Research Articles

In law, motu proprio describes an official act taken without a formal request from another party. Some jurisdictions use the term sua sponte for the same concept.

A lapsed Catholic is a baptized Catholic who is non-practicing. Such a person may still identify as a Catholic and remains a Catholic according to canon law.

An apostolic constitution is the most solemn form of legislation issued by the Pope. The use of the term constitution comes from Latin constitutio, which referred to any important law issued by the Roman emperor, and is retained in church documents because of the inheritance that the canon law of the Roman Catholic Church received from Roman law.

Ecclesia Dei is the document Pope John Paul II issued on 2 July 1988 in reaction to the Ecône Consecrations, despite an express prohibition by the Holy See. It said that the two consecrating bishops and the four priests they consecrated were excommunicated. John Paul called for unity and established the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei to foster a dialog with those associated with the consecrations who hoped to maintain both loyalty to the papacy and their attachment to traditional liturgical forms.

An episcopal conference, sometimes called a conference of bishops, is an official assembly of the bishops of the Catholic Church in a given territory. Episcopal conferences have long existed as informal entities. The first assembly of bishops to meet regularly, with its own legal structure and ecclesial leadership function, is the Swiss Bishops' Conference, which was founded in 1863. More than forty episcopal conferences existed before the Second Vatican Council. Their status was confirmed by the Second Vatican Council and further defined by Pope Paul VI's 1966 motu proprio, Ecclesiae sanctae.

In persona Christi is a Latin phrase meaning "in the person of Christ", an important concept in Roman Catholicism and, in varying degrees, to other Christian traditions. A priest is In persona Christi, because he acts as Christ and as God. An extended term, In persona Christi capitis, “in the person of Christ the head,” was introduced in by the bishops of the Vatican Council II in the Decree on the Ministry and Live of Priests, Presbyterorum Ordinis, December 7, 1965.

In the canon law of the Catholic Church, an impediment is a legal obstacle that prevents a sacrament from being performed validly and/or licitly. The term is used most frequently in relationship to the sacraments of Marriage and Holy Orders. Some canonical impediments can be dispensed by the competent authority as defined in Canon Law.

A schism is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization, movement, or religious denomination. The word is most frequently applied to a split in what had previously been a single religious body, such as the East–West Schism or the Great Western Schism. It is also used of a split within a non-religious organization or movement or, more broadly, of a separation between two or more people, be it brothers, friends, lovers, etc.

Universal indult is a term that was used primarily by traditionalist Catholics in a very specific sense. Since an indult signifies a favour granted to an individual or limited group, a similar measure applied to every member of a particular class of persons would in reality be a change of the law, not an indult. However, in spite of its self-contradictory character, traditionalist Catholics used the term "universal indult" to refer to a general permission that they hoped the Pope would grant to all Catholic priests who celebrate Mass in the Roman Rite to do so in its Tridentine Mass form even publicly without first obtaining a specific indult or permission. Groups such as the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter have standing specific indults to say the Tridentine Mass.

In the Roman Catholic Church, a parish is a stable community of the faithful within a particular church, whose pastoral care has been entrusted to a parish priest, under the authority of the diocesan bishop. It is the lowest ecclesiastical subdivision in the Catholic episcopal polity, and the primary constituent unit of a diocese. In the 1983 Code of Canon Law, parishes are constituted under cc. 515–552, entitled "Parishes, Pastors, and Parochial Vicars."

The 1917 Code of Canon Law, also referred to as the Pio-Benedictine Code, was the first official comprehensive codification of Latin canon law. It was promulgated on 27 May 1917 and took legal effect on 19 May 1918. It was in force until the 1983 Code of Canon Law took legal effect and abrogated it on 27 November 1983. It has been described as "the greatest revolution in canon law since the time of Gratian".

The 1983 Code of Canon Law, also called the Johanno-Pauline Code, is the "fundamental body of ecclesiastical laws for the Latin Church". It is the second and current comprehensive codification of canonical legislation for the Latin Church sui iuris of the Catholic Church. It was promulgated on 25 January 1983 by John Paul II and took legal effect on the First Sunday of Advent 1983. It replaced the 1917 Code of Canon Law, promulgated by Benedict XV on 27 May 1917.

The canonical situation of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), a group founded in 1970 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, is unresolved.

Omnium in mentem is the incipit of a motu proprio of 26 October 2009, published on 15 December of the same year, by which Pope Benedict XVI modified five canons of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, two concerning the sacrament of holy orders, the other three being related to the sacrament of marriage.

Debaptism

Most Christian churches see baptism as a once-in-a-lifetime event that can be neither repeated nor undone. They hold that those who have been baptized remain baptized, even if they renounce the Christian faith by adopting a non-Christian religion or by rejecting religion entirely. But some other organizations and individuals are practicing debaptism.

The legal history of the Catholic Church is the history of the oldest continuously functioning legal system in the West, much later than Roman law but predating the evolution of modern European civil law traditions. The history of Latin canon law can be divided into four periods: the jus antiquum, the jus novum, the jus novissimum and the Code of Canon Law. In relation to the Code, history can be divided into the jus vetus and the jus novum. Eastern canon law developed separately.

The matrimonial nullity trial reforms of Pope Francis are the reforms of Catholic canon law governing such trials, made public 8 September 2015. The reforms were effected by two separate apostolic letters from Pope Francis, the motu proprio Mitis iudex dominus Iesus amending the 1983 Code of Canon Law, and the motu proprio Mitis et misericors Iesus amending the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. This was in response to the bishops who, during the Synod on the Family of 5-9 October 2014, called for simplification of the procedure whereby a legally invalid marriage is declared null.

A decree is, in a general sense, an order or law made by a superior authority for the direction of others. In the usage of the canon law of the Catholic Church, it has various meanings. Any papal Bull, Brief, or Motu Proprio is a decree inasmuch as these documents are legislative acts of the Pope. In this sense the term is quite ancient. The Roman Congregations were formerly empowered to issue decrees in matters which come under their particular jurisdiction, but were forbidden from continuing to do so under Pope Benedict XV in 1917. Each ecclesiastical province, and also each diocese may issue decrees in their periodical synods within their sphere of authority.

The jurisprudence of Catholic canon law is the complex of legal theory, traditions, and interpretative principles of Catholic canon law. In the Latin Church, the jurisprudence of canon law was founded by Gratian in the 1140s with his Decretum. In the Oriental canon law of the Eastern Catholic Churches, Photios holds a place similar to that of Gratian for the West.

Catholic canon law is the set of rules and principles (laws) by which the Catholic Church is governed, through enforcement by governmental authorities. Law is also the field which concerns the creation and administration of laws.

References

  1. New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law ed. John P. Beal, James A. Coriden, Thomas Joseph Green Canon Law Society of America 2000 "The formal act of defection from the Catholic Church is a juridic act which can be proven in the external forum and whose intended effect is to separate oneself from the Church"
  2. Adolfo N. Dacanáy Canon law on marriage: introductory notes and comments 2000 Page 45 "The formal act of defection is to be interpreted strictly. It is a concept that is certainly more restricted than a notorious defection that C.1 7 1.1 talks about."
  3. See canons 1240, 1065 and 2372 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law
  4. Prot. N. 10279/2006 Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Vatican City, 13 March 2006
  5. 1 2 Text in Latin of Omnium in mentem
  6. "Actus formalis defectionis ab Ecclesia catholica". www.vatican.va. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  7. December 15, What the new Motu Proprio really means « Anna Arco's Diary; Pm, 2009 at 8:00 (15 December 2009). "Pope issues Motu Proprio modifying Canon Law" . Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  8. "New papal decree clarifies role of deacons and result of defections on marriage". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  9. "Diocese of Lafayette, "Proper Recording and Retention of Sacramental Records"" . Retrieved 26 December 2018.[ permanent dead link ]
  10. 1 2 Statement on Formal Defections Archived February 21, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  11. Abolition of the process (access=2011-01-09)
  12. "Suspension of the Defection Process" . Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  13. Archdiocese of Dublin impeding formal defections from the Roman Catholic Church
  14. In canon law, a forbidden action is notorious if "it is publicly known and was committed under such circumstances that no maneuver can conceal nor any legal defense excuse it" (T.L. Bouscaren and A.C. Ellis, Canon Law: A Text and Commentary, cited in John P. Beal, James A. Coriden, Thomas J. Green, New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law (Paulist Press 2002 ISBN   9780809140664), p. 1269
  15. Code of Canon Law, canons 171 §1, 194 §1, 316 §1, 694 §1
  16. http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/apost_letters/documents/hf_ben-xvi_apl_20091026_codex-iuris-canonici.html

Official documents