How Does the Roman Catholic Church View Membership?

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Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
I am posting this question in the Church Order forum because it mainly deals with transfer of membership credentials. About a month ago, I received a call out of the blue from someone who was no longer a member of our church, but who was baptized as an infant back in the 80's. She was currently attending a RC church, and they wanted a "certificate of baptism." This sort of surprised me, since I was unsure whether a Roman church would accept a Protestant baptism. I told her I would send a letter confirming that she had been baptized, according to our church records, back in 1984, which seemed to suffice. In the letter to the RCC, however, I included a line that said if this was actually a membership request, that we be notified in writing of such. So far I haven't heard a word.

We now have a young man coming to us for membership who recently left (read: kicked out of) a RCC. I am wondering if anyone else has experience with this and knows how the RCC will view a request for membership, or if I should even ask for such a thing. He was kicked out because he embraced Reformed theology, which of course is a big no-no. If anyone else has experience along these lines, I'd appreciate your input.
From "The Catholic Knight" blog (I've put editorial comments of my own in blue):

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Reviewing a Vatican CDF statement that came out last week, I'll put the Catholic Church's view on Protestantism in a nutshell...
  1. The Catholic Church still recognizes Protestants as Christians, just as it always has. (Disingenuous statement. The RCC has not ever done that until just recently, or so it says. This is a lie.)
  2. The Catholic Church still recognizes Protestant baptisms as a valid Catholic sacrament. (Okay... I'm floored. My Presbyterian great-grandfather was baptized a Catholic while in a coma, two days before his death. I was brought up to believe that all Protestant baptisms were invalid and certainly were no sacraments.)
  3. The Catholic Church still recognizes that Protestant baptisms incorporate people into the Catholic Church, because it is a Catholic sacrament, even though full communion with the Catholic Church remains incomplete due to Protestant schism with Rome. (What?! A is not also B by "incorporation," whatever that means to the RCC. Pure doublespeak. The entire church has been taken over by Jesuit (socialist?) casuistry and sophistry.)
  4. The Catholic Church does not recognize the artificial organizations (denominations, affiliations, associations, etc.) created by Protestants as "churches" in the proper sense, because they were not founded by apostles, nor have the preserved the rest of the sacraments. Rather, the Catholic Church recognizes them as man-made Christian "communities." (Whatever, dudes.)
  5. The Catholic Church recognizes that God still uses these man-made Christian communities to teach people of Jesus Christ. (Only to their faces. Behind closed - Catholic - doors, it's another matter.)
If someone is kicked out of a Catholic church, one should probably find out why. They don't excommunicate very many people these days. One is constructively excommunicated (I was) by publicly proclaiming that one accepts the jurisdiction of a Protestant denomination. Getting into a fracas personally with a Catholic priest or parish (I did that on more than one occasion) doesn't mean you're kicked out. They don't do it that way.

I don't know if any of this helps (it probably doesn't). The National Council of Catholic Bishops website or your local diocesan website would probably be of more help.

He was "kicked out" of one RC church for saying he believed in Reformed doctrine with regard to salvation (read: Calvinism), which meant he implicitly denied Rome's teachings on justification, etc. He was not excommunicated because of his age (he is 17), the reasoning being that he was too young to be excommunicated. He began attending another RCC where the priest was a bit more lenient toward his convictions. They even let him teach a children's class (8-10 year olds I think), but he was asked to leave because he taught about total depravity in the class (the parents were outraged that anyone would say this to their children).
Okay. He was kicked out only "locally," as they say in the RCC, but no proceedings were commenced against him at the diocesan level. If you send a request to the pastor of either church for a "transfer of membership," this is likely to be forwarded to the bishop and stir up a huge hornet's nest - and a lot of trouble for the young man. I taught a catechism class in an RCC of which I had become a member and let it be known that I didn't believe in baptismal regeneration. I was asked to leave that parish; they gave the excuse that I "didn't live within the parish boundaries anyway." I could see what was happening anyway & just left. The parish AND the RCC, eventually.

All I can estimate is how I've observed the Archdioceses of Detroit and Chicago taking a request for a "transfer of membership" to a Reformed Protestant church. They would be in high dudgeon. They would view it as a supreme insult to their authority over all of confessed Christianity. It's really not something that's done, at least not in large, Midwestern dioceses.

Can the young man just leave the RCC quietly, without a flap? That's how most of us do it. It makes it easier later to attend family weddings and funerals if you just leave without fanfare and letters flying back and forth... (If one needs to, one skips the nuptial or requiem mass, but attends the receptions that follow, at which the priest will be present.)

Wow, I had not thought of the whole "bishop level" with proceedings. What a mess. I will ask him to make sure no action was taken by him on the diocese level and see how he wants to proceed (his grandmother is still a devout RC, btw, so you warnings are greatly warranted). And, of course, I will seek the Session's wisdom on this as well.
I haven't observed this in action quite the way Margaret has, at least not officially, but I've lived through some of the same inconsistencies. My wife was raised Catholic and was still practicing (sort of) when we got engaged. At the time I was "Christian" with no particular convictions. We figured we'd get married by her home parish priest, but found that we had to sign a document stating that she would raise the children Catholic. I wasn't cool on that, not for any particular theological reasons, but more out of a "you ain't the boss of me" attitude. At any rate, that launched us both down a very bumpy road to studying our real convictions. We learned that, at the very least, she really had never been taught core doctrines of the RCC and she wasn't ready to sign such a form. So we got married in a Presbyterian church instead. Although never officially excommunicated, she was told that she could no longer receive communion in the RCC until she signed the form and had the marriage "sacramentally blessed."

We've since found that (1) not all diocese require the form to be signed, or at least they don't consistently enforce it--we've met several couples who faced the same situation we did, and the priest just dropped the issue of the paper; (2) some priests will still allow her to take communion because they don't agree with that policy, and (3) not all sins count equally. About 2 years after she was essentially booted from the RCC for not signing a piece of paper, we learned that the same priest was doing the pre-marital counseling for one of my wife's old high school friends, who was openly living with her boyfriend and had no intention of stopping. The priest decided to drop that matter, because "he wanted to pick his battles."

So I would guess that your 17 year old ex-Catholic will be viewed and treated differently from one diocese to another, from one parish to another, from one country to another, etc. I'm sure glad we have an infallible magisterium to decide these matters for us. :confused:
Yep. When one leaves the RCC, whatever their age, you always want to keep it subdued, "tasteful" and very quiet. Just don't ruffle their feathers and they won't ruffle yours. Especially if you have older relatives and the rest of your family remaining in the RCC, which I also did and do. The relatives still want to be accepted and liked and trusted in their parish and in others. If you're nice to them in this manner, they're ripe for later evangelism, if the Lord so wills.

And you don't want to stir up anything that might make your name "anathema" at your (former) diocesan offices. It's not necessary. :cool: You can leave the RCC without formal proceedings.

I don't know his name, but I will pray for the young man of whom you're speaking. He's going to need a lot of help from you, Pastor, and his other brothers and sisters in Christ. But it sounds as though the Lord has already given him a full complement of the grace that he'll need to weather the storms that inevitably come with leaving the RCC. I thank the Lord, too, that he has you as his pastor!

Thanks, Margaret (I'm out of "thank yous"). I and he would appreciate your prayers. He may be considering the ministry at some point in the future as well, as he has discussed this with me.
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