A little Sunday Schadenfreude


You would think that this was from the in the Vatican’s underground newspaper, La Cipolla.

Instead it is from thejournal.ie (.ie… Irish, of course):

Website that helps people leave the Catholic Church to cease operations

ONE OF THE founders of a website that provided information and assistance to people who wished to officially [split an infinitive] leave the Catholic Church has said that the site will close, because formal rules for leaving the church are so hard to navigate.
Countmeout.ie was established in 2009, offering visitors a Declaration of Defection form that could be mailed to a local parish priest. An annotation would then be added to a person’s baptismal certificate, thereby formally severing a persons ties with Catholicism. [Maybe it would and maybe it wouldn’t.]
Over 12,000 of the forms were downloaded from the site, but an official [official again!] change to canon law in 2009 has made it impossible to formally [split an infinitive] defect from the church. The Archdiocese of Dublin said that it will maintain a register of those who have expressed an interest in defecting.
However, without the baptismal certificate [register] annotation, the group says that the register is irrelevant.
Paul Dunbar, one of three people who had founded the CountMeOut website, said that trying to find ways around the 2009 decision by Pope Benedict XVI to abolish formal defection was like “repeatedly hitting our head against a brick wall”. [HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!]
We can’t get a meaningful answer from anyone in the Catholic Church, so we’ve decided to cease operations.”  [They aren’t alone.]
Dunbar says that even since defection was abolished, many people have visited the website, mailed the owners and “reflected on their own relationship with the Catholic Church.”
“The campaign proved very successful [Oooo… not just successful but very successful.] in the early stages and generated a lot of debate.
As a group, we felt it was important for people to reflect on their relationship with the church and decide whether they could remain as a member.
“The website will remain live for a number of months as we feel the information available on the site may prove useful to some.”

Fine.  Maybe one of the necessary parts of renewal of the Church is the clearing out of this flotsam.

In the meantime, this is amusing.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Lighter fare, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, The future and our choices and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Trisagion says:

    Ha! Ha! Ha!

  2. Supertradmum says:

    Ireland is the only country where in law one must legally make a statement to leave the Church. I looked this up last year when the question of formal declaration of apostasy came up. It is the law of the land, but obviously not enforceable. The Diocese of Dublin website had something on this last year after the Canon Law change, but I cannot find it.

    So, although the motu proprio of 2009 changed the ruling on formal apostasy in Canon Law, according to someone I checked with here, it is still on the books in Irish law. I have another legal eagle friend here who is a lawyer, and I shall check this out with her today as well.

  3. StWinefride says:

    Oh Father! Please try and have some compassion for these poor people! :)

  4. There is one way for sure; but I do not recommend it.

  5. Supertradmum – I would be interested in seeing a reference to any such law. Since the Irish State does not keep records of religious affiliation and does not ask about it at any point (I have filled out countless forms of various kinds and apart from the Census religion never features) I find it difficult to believe it exists. I hope your lawyer friends know about Irish law. If such a law exists it may be a leftover from British rule and would rate the same as the laws that once required the owners of horses to shovel up the dung dropped by their animals or classed the wearing of a religious habit as transvestitism.

    This site failed because people prefer to be ‘non-practicing’ rather than totally abandon the faith. They like having some connection for weddings, naming babies and burying the dead but lack any deeper conviction that would either bring them back into the Church or drive them away from it. The site has died from indifference.

  6. DavidJ says:

    Father, with all due respect, their failure is enough and there is no need to be petty about their grammatical errors. There’s no need to descend into that level of criticism, as that pettiness does nothing to bolster the main thrust of your point.

  7. Supertradmum says:

    Br. Tom Forde OFM Cap No, the law was from the Republic. I am not referring to Northern Ireland. I am waiting to hear back, but a priest told me this fact, who seemed to know his Irish, not British law. However, he may be wrong.

  8. Supertradmum says:

    Br. Tom Forde, maybe it has to do with the special position the Catholic Church had in Ireland before 1972. The entire section referring to that special position, written in the 1937 Constitution, (as many thought the 1922 one was too secular), was deleted from the on line Constitution presentation, and I assume deleted on all official documents. I am guessing that there could be a connection for determination of membership, rights to Catholic education, etc. I do not know.

  9. Fr Jackson says:

    I’ll admit there’s part of me that likes the clarity that results from people formally declaring themselves to be non-Catholics. Here’s an idea, dear Father Z: let’s get a bunch of people to download these forms and send them to Nancy Pelosi! ;) [Tempting!]
    On the other hand, I think the Countmeout people might be more upset if they realized the intent of the 2009 change (which, if I remember right, reverts to Pius XII’s own change from the rules of Pius X, more or less). One of its reasons was to allow baptized Catholics to leave behind a non-Catholic or non-practicing spouse and to re-marry if the original wedding had not taken place according to Church law. This was / is meant to favor the practice of religion on the part of the more devout partner.

  10. Kathleen10 says:

    Well, I just love this, and enjoyed reading it Fr. Z., many thanks for sharing this.
    Our battle is with Satan and his minions. Daily we feel the tiny pokes from that cattle prod he carries, the one with the forks. In a zillion ways we endure the relentless nonsense of atheists, haters, secularists, humanists, feminists, and every other annoying ist out there. We are clearly in a battle, and I love the high road, but can’t always take it. Thank GOD Almighty we have a friend such as Fr. Z., who leads and shares, leads and shares. I thank him for his leadership, and I thank him for his sharing, when he shares as he would with a friend, in person. What an honor and privilege, and I am grateful for it. When he rejoices, I rejoice!
    We have misplaced compassion so often in our times. We are confused! We see a terrible “effort” such as the one mentioned here, with people intentionally trying to draw poor souls away from God, and they do harm to people. Why shouldn’t we rejoice their effort has failed! Answer: we should! It is misplaced compassion to feel sorry for perpetrators of evil and forget about the evil they do. God will have mercy on them, if they ask for it. Until then, I pray they fail, as they did here, and I rejoice.

  11. The Sicilian Woman says:

    I thought I was the last person in the US, if not the world, who knew what a split infinitive was. Drives me crazy to see them constantly in “professional” media and writings. That, and more and more people do not know the difference between “it’s” and “its.” /rant. Carry on.

  12. StWinefride says:

    Kathleen10: Why shouldn’t we rejoice their effort has failed! Answer: we should!

    But Proverbs 24: 17-20 says:

    17 Do not rejoice when your enemies fall,
    and do not let your heart be glad when they stumble,
    18 or else the Lord will see it and be displeased,
    and turn away his anger from them.

    19 Do not fret because of evildoers.
    Do not envy the wicked;
    20 for the evil have no future;
    the lamp of the wicked will go out.

  13. PostCatholic says:

    I have seen many things like this; most ridiculously once I watched a guy with a hair dryer “de-baptize” young atheists professing their non-belief. I didn’t join in: What is the point, other than to insult someone who does care?

    Look, if one does not believe in the Catholic church’s ecclesiology, sacraments, doctrines, etc, then what is the the residual psychic hold of the fact that somewhere in a dusty book are recorded the goofy events of a day? It happened. The meaning it has is for others, not for you; why lodge protest if you’re free from those beliefs now? I suspect it’s because these people aren’t free from them, really.

    Ever watch a Joss Whedon flick and wondering why crosses and holy water should have any impact on his vampires? Same thing.

  14. cothrige says:

    As an aside, splitting an infinitive is not, in fact, a grammar error. There is actually nothing wrong with it. It is a myth. It was invented in the nineteenth century by the Dean of Canterbury, and noted Latinist, Henry Alford. It is just as erroneous to try to force rules of Latin onto English as would be the reverse. English has a long history of using split infinitives, reaching back to before the development of Modern English itself, and there is simply nothing wrong with the practice. BTW, it is also fine to end a sentence in a preposition, given that the preposition is necessary in the first place, as well as to begin a sentence with ‘however,’ ‘and’ or ‘but.’

  15. CharlesG says:

    This is all so silly. If someone no longer believes what the Catholic Church teaches, then if the Catholic Church were to still view someone as baptised, that is the Catholic Church’s business, and the baptised individual is free to ignore or disregard that teaching just as he ignores any other teaching of the Church. It is a matter of the Church’s religious freedom. The intent here is simply to cause spiteful harm to the Church and express the apostate’s hatred. The apostate doesn’t recognize their baptism as meaning anything to begin with, so from their perspective, there is no purpose in having it “revoked.” (Of course it can’t be revoked from the Church’s perpective anyway.)

    Similarly, I never understood why people get upset at Mormons’ baptism of dead people by proxy. If you’re not Mormon, then what does it matter? We don’t believe anything the Mormons teach or recognize the validity of any “baptism” they carry out, so why should it matter that they purport to baptise dead non-Mormons? It is their business and it simply should not matter to the rest of us. Similarly with Protestants who insist that Catholic communion must be open to them. The Catholic Church has its own beliefs, and if you don’t share them, what does it matter to you what rules we have? The bottom line is, if you don’t believe in a religion, then you don’t have any right to dictate its beliefs or practices (unless where there is clearly some material harm to the human life, like human sacrifice…).

  16. Andy Lucy says:

    @The Sicilian Woman- Their, they’re, there… its going to be alright, its nothing to be getting excited over. You shouldn’t let it effect you; don’t loose control. Any one could make a mistake. There’s always going to be some body making grammatical mistakes… they should of taken more care. I think I need a brake, I am more tired then I thought.

    It was harder than I thought, writing that many grammatical errors. LOL

  17. Mariana2 says:

    I love it!
    And I abhor split infinitives.
    I even prefer not to end sentences (at least when writing) with a pronoun, even though Churchill said that was nonsense up with which he would not put.
    (And I’m not a native English speaker.)

  18. cl00bie says:

    I scrub and scrub and scrub, but this writing : “this heart is the property of Jesus Christ” won’t come off of my heart!

  19. RuariJM says:

    Cothrige is correct.

    The split-infinitive stuff came about because of a snobbish attempt to classify English as a Latinic language – and, of course, it is impossible to split an infinitive in Latin, as eny fule kno.

    Latin was somehow seen as ‘superior’ to German, Norse, Welsh, Gaelic, Norman French, Anglo-Saxon, Medieval French, classical French, Greek, Urdu (and other Indian languages), Arabic, Chinese or any of the other languages it borrowed, hijacked, joyously stole and otherwise ‘democratically shopped’ from!

  20. jaykay says:

    “However, without the baptismal certificate [register] annotation, the group says that the register is irrelevant.”

    It’s irrelevant full-stop, baptismal certificate register annotation or not. How confused these people are. Can you “de-baptise” yourself? No. So why are they so hung up about an entry in the register of baptisms in particular? That is purely a record of something that happened in the past and is just not the appropriate place for an action like this to be recorded. It’s not as if the register of baptisms is used as some sort of census of membership or whatever, in which case such an annotation might have some meaning. Is the register of marriages similarly annotated when someone divorces? No, and nor should it be, it’s not appropriate.

    In any event I can’t see any very busy priest having the time to search registers and carry out this sort of self-congratulatory nonsense, which is all it is at bottom.

    Supertradmum, I can’t think why there should be, or should have been, any law in Ireland to cover such an eventuality. There has been no established Church since 1870 (and that was the Anglican Church). Perhaps some such provision existed prior to then? The abolished provision in the Constitution in regard to the “special position” of the Catholic Church was just that, a statement that it was regarded to have had a special position (for historical reasons), nothing else. It certainly never covered rights to Catholic education or such.

  21. acricketchirps says:

    DavidJ :Funny, I was going to say with all due respect, their grammar is egregious enough and there is no need to be petty about their failure.

    As far as I’m concerned Cothrige and RuariJM have succeeded in excommunicating and incurring anathema upon themselves.

  22. Penny says:

    I tried not to but I can’t help it ….. The split infinitives “rule” just won’t go away even if the story behind the “rule” is revealed, as mentioned by cotherige and RuariJM. People tend to cling tenaciously to what they were taught. We see it with respect to grammar as well as religion or almost any other field/topic. Try to persuade professors who insist their students adhere to certain style guides such as Chicago Manual of Style or Turabian (which follows Chicago) but who then throw those same style guides under the bus when it comes to split infinitives. Heels are dug in, peace is disturbed, etc. Other than in-house style guides, I’ve not found a single widely-distributed guide that still promotes the rule. Many are simply silent on it. Chicago, which hasn’t required the total avoidance of split infinitives since the 1980’s, explains their appropriate use in sections 5.106 and 5.168 of Chicago 16.

  23. cothrige says:

    I can understand how, as some here have mentioned, it might be hard for people to stop doing something they have made a habit, but we certainly cannot pretend that when others do the correct thing they are actually wrong. It is simply unnatural to force Latin rules of grammar onto a Germanic language. This is basic sensibility. And we can see how inappropriate it is when we consider the awkward and ugly creations which people come up with in order to avoid these so-called errors. Consider this: “Which car is my wife in?” That is a perfectly acceptable sentence. Anyone who has an ear for English would find nothing wrong with it. And yet we are told it is incorrect. However, one can easily see how acceptable and even proper it is by considering the alternatives which people actually come up with to “correct” it. “In which car is my wife?” Great googly moogly, that is just awful. The original outshines that awkward sentence in every possible way, except that it does not follow a rule made up by pedants who thought language was either Latin or it was wrong.

  24. Panterina says:


    “Ireland is the only country where in law one must legally make a statement to leave the Church. ” If I’m not mistaken, Germany is another one, where Catholics can renounce their religious affiliation officially, for tax purposes.

  25. Norah says:

    Sicilian Woman, I wouldn’t know a split infinitive if it came up and hit me in the face. The examples fr pointed out looked perfectly ok to me! lol You might enjoy “Eats Shoots and Leaves” the zero tolerance approach to punctuation by Lynne Truss. My pet peeves are “your” for “you’re” possessive apostrophes used incorrectly especially on websites (so unprofessional) and in shopfront sites. Off topic – my butcher used to sell “beef slithers” instead of “beef slivers”.

    “Germany is another one, where Catholics can renounce their religious affiliation officially, for tax purposes.”
    That is correct and, as an expat friend of mine told me, when the person dies it is the relatives who tearfully ask that he/she receive a Catholic burial despite f the fact that they hadn’t paid any money for the upkeep of the Church in donkey’s years.

    Fr Fox, what is the one sure way?

  26. Supertradmum says:

    on the split infinitive rabbit hole-of course, the most famous one in the world is

    ” to boldly go where no man has gone before.” and here, for nostalgia


  27. Supertradmum – I return to this topic after a transfer to Cork from Dublin. Irish civil and criminal law is essentially British law with a European twist (since we are now in the EU). I have never heard of any one ever having to register with the Irish State that they have changed religion and I know a few who have, some repeatedly. The State does not keep such records so it cannot require one to give notice of a change. I think you’re source may have been referring to some provision of the laws which applied until the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland in the Nineteenth Century.

    As Pnaterina points out Germany, and perhaps within the European Union only Germany, keeps such records of religious affiliation.

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