Monday, May 17, 2010

Finally got around to it

So I posted a while ago (a looong while ago) that I was planning on requesting a formal act of defection from the Catholic church.  I described my reasoning behind doing this, rather than just walking away and not worrying about the church's recording in my previous post, I won't go over it all again.  Being the procrastinator that I am, I didn't get around to finishing my letter at the time.

I finally got around to writing it today (Wi-Fi was crappy on the train).  And so as I promised in my earlier post, I'm posting the letter I will be sending to the diocese.  I'll also post any response I get from the diocese.  I'm leaving out one paragraph which contains some personal information about my parents and where I was baptized.  Other than that, I'll be sending the letter as it is here.  If you have any comments or suggestions on the letter, I'd love to hear them.

I mentioned that I got the idea to do this from Jim Gardner and his blog How Good is That?  If you read his letter, you'll probably notice that the structure of our letters is similar.  I modeled my letter after Jim's, because he was in contact with his diocese about the requirements for a formal act of defection when he wrote his letter.  I wanted to make sure I included the same information, to improve the chances of the church accepting my request.

Here is my letter:

Dear Bishop Murphy,

I was born into a Catholic family, but have not associated with the church since I was eight years old, and have been an atheist since fourteen. Until recently, I have been content to simply be informally defected from the church. However, recent Vatican policies no longer allow me to keep quiet my moral objections to the church. Therefore, I am requesting a formal act of defection be entered into the church records, to accompany documentation of my baptism, and any other events recorded, as specified in the Code of Canon Law.
Through a significant portion of my childhood, I attended mass and religion classes weekly. However, I have since come to the conclusion that the hypothesis that god exists is almost certainly false, and that the Catholic Church has not provided nearly enough evidence to support its claims about the supernatural and its privileged position. In addition, I find many of the teachings, beliefs and actions of the church morally reprehensible. I feel morally obligated to speak out against them whenever I can.
The most obvious offense is the sexual abuse of children, which has been a problem for the Catholic Church for decades, and has recently become an extremely public affair. I understand that the majority of priests in the church are good men. However, it is now clear that senior officials of the church, including then Cardinal Ratzinger, were complacent when these horrible offenses were brought to their attention. Rather than cooperate with authorities to ensure these abusive members of the church were justly punished, church officials covered for the abusers, moving many of them to different parishes, where they could continue to abuse more children. The church has shown again and again it is motivated by self-interest rather than compassion toward others, even innocent children.

The Catholic Church's willingness to lie about the effectiveness of condom use to millions of Africans currently dealing with an AIDS epidemic is also deeply unethical. The position of the church is clearly and demonstrably false, leading to one of only two conclusions: either church leaders are incapable of understanding the basic scientific facts about the effectiveness of condoms, or what I believe is more more likely, they are actively subverting the truth in order to perpetuate an archaic and irrational dogma. In either case, I have no interest in being associated with the resulting church. Catholics often boast about the humanitarian work done in Africa, including all of the AIDS treatment facilities run by the church. But their unwillingness to provide accurate medical advice is not real treatment; it is a power play used to subjugate a group of people in desperate need of help and compassion.

Again and again, Pope Benedict, like popes before him, has preached beliefs and attitudes which are hypocritical and antiquated. His attitudes toward women and homosexuals, along with the church's official policies, are demeaning, hateful and bigoted. In Mark 10:25, Jesus says: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God,” and yet the Vatican's treasure of gold has been estimated by United Nations World Magazine to be worth several billion dollars.. The pope protects priests and bishops involved in the rape of innocent children, yet approves of the ex-communication of the mother and doctors who performed an abortion on a nine-year-old girl, who was raped and impregnated by her stepfather. Note that the stepfather is still able to attend mass as he wishes. How can anyone honestly defend this mockery of morality?

All of these offenses, and many others I have neglected to list, would not matter if not for the fact that the very basis on which the church relies is obviously false. If the church were truly serving a god, I could rely on this god to take care of justly dealing with these issues. However, the evidence clearly shows that there is almost certainly no god, especially not the jealous, sadistic god of the Bible, or his somewhat more peaceful, but obviously deluded son Jesus.

The atrocities committed by this church makes staying a part of it, even as just a formality, something I can no longer tolerate. Thus, I formally request that the Church officially recognize that I am no longer a member of the Catholic Church. I would appreciate confirmation of this request when you are able to provide it. If there is anything else required of me to carry out my act of defection, please let me know what I must do.


Jeffrey Lawrence Satterley
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