HOME  Why its a mistake to give the Catholic Church support via membership or donations



Some people say once a Catholic always a Catholic.

What can they mean?

Are they referring to a label? But too often a label is just a word.  A label may not convey the full truth or the real truth and in that case it amounts to a lie and a social construct and an excuse for an "Us not them, they are not us" kind of structure or thinking.  It is bigoted to just say call somebody of a Catholic background a Catholic if the label is virtually just a word for why that word and not another?

Individuals are labelled and a collection of individuals gets a label too.  Either way the label must be the truth.  If the whole Catholic Church turns to Krishna and not Jesus what then? It would be stupid to call it Catholic.

Giving somebody a label such as a surname means they have the right to change it.  John Jones may become John Brixton when he marries Mable Brixton.  To persist in sticking a label on a person that they don't relate to, don't feel says anything about them and don't think belongs to them is bigotry.

Catholics label people and are notorious for it so it is really about the name.  We may have racists but its a sort of racism to treat perceived label-bearers as having this label when they either reject it or think its invalid.

The Church says it is not just a community set up by God but a faith and worship community.  A label has to be descriptive which means a Catholic is a person who signs up to believing certain things and being part of a community that at least in principle signs up to the beliefs too.

People do see that there is a contradiction between being a Catholic once and always being one. Usually what people mean by the expression is that you can indeed cease to be a Catholic but you are always Catholic in the sense that some of the religious brainwashing will stay with you. An atheist who was Catholic might feel that her reluctance to have sex with her boyfriend is down to her Catholic upbringing so her reluctance is Catholic in a sense.

The Church answers..

Simple answer: Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus - Outside the Church there is no salvation is an essential and basic doctrine of the Church. It refers principally to those who leave the Church. And secondly to those who are not Catholics but who won't use their chance to check out if the Church is the one true Church. Outside the Church there is no salvation is implied by the creed, "I believe in one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church." Once a Catholic always Catholic is against Catholic teaching. Once baptised validly, always baptised is often confused with it. It is not the same.
The Church says that valid baptism brings with it the responsibilities of practicing the entire Catholic Faith. The Council of Trent defined that:

If anyone says that through Baptism, baptized persons become obliged merely to faith alone, and not to keeping the whole law of Christ: let him be anathema.
If anyone says that baptized persons are freed from all the precepts of holy Church, whether written or unwritten, so that they are not bound to observe them unless of their own accord they wish to submit themselves to these precepts: let him be anathema.

This says that once you are baptised, you are under duty to obey the Catholic Church, even if you are baptised in a Protestant Church. It does not say that you are always Catholic. The Church says that baptism is Catholic though it is stolen by Protestants.
Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 14, states that those who disobey and deny Church teaching are only in the Church bodily but not in their hearts.

They are fully incorporated in the society of the Church who, possessing the Spirit of Christ accept her entire system and all the means of salvation given to her, and are united with her as part of her visible bodily structure and through her with Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. The bonds which bind men to the Church in a visible way are profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical government and communion. He is not saved, however, who, though part of the body of the Church, does not persevere in charity. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but, as it were, only in a "bodily" manner and not "in his heart." All the Church's children should remember that their exalted status is to be attributed not to their own merits but to the special grace of Christ. If they fail moreover to respond to that grace in thought, word and deed, not only shall they not be saved but they will be the more severely judged.

Pope Pius XI who reigned from 1922 to 1939 wrote: “The Catholic Church alone is keeping the true worship. This is the font of truth, this is the house of faith, this is the temple of God; if any man enter not here, or if any man go forth from it, he is a stranger to the hope of life and salvation….Furthermore, in this one Church of Christ, no man can be or remain who does not accept, recognize and obey the authority and supremacy of Peter and his legitimate successors.” (Encyclical, Mortalium Animos).


The idea that baptism changes your DNA of your soul does not necessarily mean that it is God that is doing the changing. It is evil to make a person think their souls DNA has been changed by God when it may not be him who did the changing or if there is no change at all. That is scamming. It is as much an attempted refusal to accept you as you as an attempt to change your physical DNA would be. Religion uses God not accepting you until baptism as an excuse for doing that itself. It evades the blame.

Some talk about spiritual DNA stuff and the Church being a real family in the DNA sense but that is nonsense.  And why this stuff about DNA?  The teaching is that baptism makes us ADOPTED sons and daughters of God!  That means no DNA or anything like it!  The Church says it is made up of the adopted children of God. A child who is adopted can cease to be a member of the family that adopts him. A child that is related to that family can still leave the family - DNA ties are not enough to make a family a family. Love is more important than DNA.  A DNA link does not add up to a membership link.

And where do you draw the line with DNA line of thinking? Why not say that those who drink coffee change their DNA and become a family?

DNA is not enough to make you a member of a family.  Your parent's love child hidden away in the wilds is not a family member.  There is a link but not a membership link.

Catholics who see baptism as creating a link between one baptised person and another by making them children of the one God must see that this link though necessary for membership cannot suffice!
If once you are baptised Catholic you are Catholic forever, it follows that if you disobey the faith, you are a bad Catholic. You cannot be credible as an amateur or professional teacher of the faith or as a representative. And if you claim to be a good Catholic you only wreck your credibility further. You are claiming to have the right to say that inventing your own version of Catholicism means you are a good Catholic! That is actually an insult to genuine religious freedom for it denies the right of a religion to set doctrines and practices. Its bigoted to say once a Catholic always a Catholic for that implies that a Catholic who becomes say a Muslim or a Methodist has no right to say, "Once a Muslim/Methodist, always a Muslim/Methodist". It is patronisingly claiming special rights as a Catholic. It is implying that nobody has the right to say they have changed from Catholicism to Protestantism or whatever. Their membership in another religion is not taken seriously.
“Once a Catholic always a Catholic” and doctrines about baptism marking you as belonging to God accuse anybody who was baptised a Catholic of neglecting their duty if they want nothing to do with the faith. One would need absolute proof to have the right to say things like that. The Church is forced to admit that it does not have any such proof...
The Catholic Church has three sacraments of initiation. One is baptism. The next is confirmation in which you accept the faith. Then the Eucharist. Baptism does not give full membership. If the baby that is baptised becomes a Catholic it is largely Catholic but not totally. It becomes more Catholic at confirmation and even more again every time it gets communion. The Church says that the sacraments only become channels of holiness if the recipient lets them. The sacraments then only initiate into goodness.

If we are talking about an organisation, you are either a member or you are not.
We see from all that that the Church is not merely an organisation. Being Catholic is not just a label. Being Catholic is being good as the Lord has helped the Church understand it. In this, the good person who repudiates Catholicism is practicing the wrong kind of good. The goodness would pave the way for founding the organisation. The goodness matters more than the organisation and the organisation only exists to implement the good. To say otherwise is to teach sectarianism.
The Roman Catholic Church says that baptism puts a seal on you that makes you belong to that Church forever. Belonging to the Church means it has the right to have you as a member. It does not necessarily mean you are a member. Membership is a two-way thing. To suggest any different is offensive and unkind and too controlling.
Suppose you have a gold watch that you inherited from your uncle who gave it to you on the condition that you would never sell it or give it away. You go and sell it. You are obligated to keep the watch. But once you sell it, it is no longer your watch. In the same way, belonging to the Church by obligation is not the same as being a member.
If the Catholic Church is indeed the one right religion and the one family of God, it follows that baptised or not, God has the right to require you to enter the Church and it has the right to have you as a member. The unbaptised has a duty to belong. Clearly, the notion that baptism makes you obligated to be a member and act like one is strange considering you have the obligation even if you are a heathen and always have been. The Church is using baptism as a manipulation tool.
It is sectarian and patronising to tell anybody that once you are Catholic you are Catholic forever. Why not say, once you are Christian you are Christian forever? Is being labelled Catholic more important than being labelled Christian?
Is it really correct to say that you belong to the Church? The Church means the society united to Jesus Christ. It people being spiritually in union with him. What one should say is that one belongs to Jesus. If there was no original sin, it would follow that all people belong to Jesus from the first moment of their existence. It would follow that all form the Church.
The notion of once Catholic always Catholic emphasises being Catholic over being Christian. Christian means follower of Christ . Theologically, once a Christian always a Christian would be better. The word Catholic simply means universal and reflects the notion that the Church is not confined to any nations or races but membership is open to all. To say once Catholic always Catholic is to emphasise an attribute or quality of the Church. And its emphasised disproportionately. The Catholic Church says it has four marks - its one, its holy, its Catholic and apostolic. The apostolic mark is the most important - it means the Church accepts the teaching of the apostles. This teaching is supposed to be correct and free from error for without correct religious teaching you can't expect the Church to be one, to be holy and capable of doing right or meant for all people. It would not be meant for people who know the truth if its teaching has errors in it.
If you are Catholic,
There are three ways of being Catholic (these apply to being a member of any religion) -
* You can be Catholic by affiliation by having your name on its books because of an initiation. That would be over-legalistic.
For Catholics, you can be affiliated in the eyes of the Church but in the eyes of God you might not be Catholic at all - for example, if your baptism for some reason was invalid. So only God knows who is really baptised and initiated into the Church.

* You can be Catholic by belief.

* You can be Catholic socially.
All are necessary to be fully Catholic. If you have not been formally initiated into the Church and think you have been you may be Catholic by belief and socially but not really. Even if it is true that you are Catholic for life, it is not true that you can be a believing Catholic for life. You would be Catholic by membership but not Catholic by belief.
Church teaching says that your parents decide your membership in the Church for you at baptism as a baby but you can terminate that membership when you mature.
If the Church is a load of hocus pocus then it follows that it only imagines it has the right to have you as a member or to declare you a member - you making yourself a member is a different thing.
The notion espoused by some that your DNA makes you a member of your family thus baptism gives you spiritual DNA making you a member of the Church is absurd. Your DNA makes you share something with your parents and brothers and sisters etc. But a family has to be built independent of that. DNA does not make a family - love does. The Church itself would reject the notion of spiritual DNA as the soul is immaterial - that is it is not made of matter. If baptism really puts a seal on you, the seal indicates, "Obligated to be a member and provisionally a member until he makes up his own mind." Whether you really become a member is up to you.
The DNA argument shows more concern for making it appear that Catholics share DNA in the soul than for the doctrine that God if good, would change our DNA in order to put more good influences in us. It shows no concern for what people believe.
The suggestion that its about making the genes of every Catholic soul related to the other Catholic souls smacks of racism because Catholics claim to form the only holy and one and apostolic and divinely created Church. Its like, "God has given me this DNA and so its a gift and you don't have the gift as you are not baptised so you are not as special as I am at least in so far as I have the right DNA".

As the Church intends baptism to erase original sin and the power of evil it follows that if you ensure only a particular race is baptised that race can declare itself superior to other races. A doctrine that could be used to implement racism is evil. It is an insult to those who work against racism. It is racism by implication. Racism in any for is intolerable.


From The Catechism Explained:

A Catholic is one who has been baptized and professes himself to be a member of the Catholic Church.

The Church is a community into which admittance is gained by Baptism. Thus the three thousand baptized on the first Pentecost became members of the Church (Acts ii. 41). Moreover a man must make external profession of being a member of the Church, so that any one who breaks away, for instance, by heresy, no longer belongs to the Church in spite of his baptism, though he is not thereby freed from his obligations to the Church. Neither heathens, Jews, heretics, nor schismatics are members of the Church (Council of Florence), though children baptized validly in other communions really belong to it. " For," as St. Augustine says, " Baptism is the privilege of the true Church, and so the benefits which flow from Baptism are necessarily fruits which belong only to the true Church. Children baptized in other communions cease to be members of the Church only when, after reaching the age of reason, they make formal profession of heresy, as, for example, by receiving communion in a non-Catholic church." The Christians were at first known by the name of Nazareans, from Nazareth, or Galileans, from Galilee; it was first in Antioch that the name Christian came to be in use (Acts xi. 26), and the name Christians is appropriate. We are followers of Christ, willing to be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. viii. 29). " We receive our name," says St. John Chrysostom, " not from an earthly ruler, nor from an angel, nor from an archangel, nor from a seraphim, but from the King of all the earth."

A true Catholic is not only one who has been baptized and belongs to the Church, but who also makes serious efforts to secure his eternal salvation; who believes the teaching of the Church, keeps the commandments of God, and of the Church, who receives the sacraments, and prays to God in the manner
prescribed by Christ.

He is not a true Christian who is ignorant of his faith. Such a one might as well call himself a doctor though knowing nothing of medicine. " ISTor is he a true Christian," says St. Justin, " who does not live as Christ taught him to live." Our Lord said to the Jews : " If you be the children of Abraham do the works of Abraham " (John viii. 39), and He might say to the Christians "If you be Christians do the works of Christ." " If you want to be a Christian," says St. Gregory Nazianzen, " you must live the life of Christ ;" and St. Augustine : " A true Christian is the man who is gentle, good, and merciful to all, and shares his bread with the poor." Christ Himself said that His disciples should be known by their love one for another (John xiii. 35). A Christian who neglects the sacraments is like a soldier who has no weapons ; what a responsibility he incurs ! Louis of Granada says, " A field which is well tended is expected to yield a richer harvest ; so more good works are expected from a Christian than from a heathen, because the Christian has greater graces.

End of quote.

Here are the reasons a baby cannot become a Catholic by baptism:
Even if a baby needs to be something, it does not follow that it really is a Catholic baby. It is only a baby who has got the Catholic label for the sake of giving it a label.
Catholic doctrine is serious stuff. Therefore you cannot make a valid decision to enter Catholicism knowing some of this stuff but not all. But babies know nothing at all.
If the baby has original sin, it is inclined to choose sin rather than choose God. Thus it can only become a member of the Church if forced. If it had a say it would refuse. Original sin means a refusing of God so infant baptism is forced conversion or pretended conversion.
A choice made for you is not as binding as a choice you make for yourself. If you were baptised a Catholic as a baby without your consent, then that is less important than the decision you make as an adult to stay in or leave the Church. A choice made for you is not a choice made by you and so it cannot be called a choice at all. Those who say you are Catholic and even if you join the Hindus this is only a pretence and you are still a Catholic and a liar.
Forced conversion does not mean just forcing people to join your religion but keeping them in it. You are forcing them to renew their conversion every day.
Those who believe in once a Catholic always a Catholic take their children for baptism. Clearly they are attempting the forcing of religion on children whether its wanted or not for no matter what he or she does when he or she grows up he or she cannot stop being a Catholic! Its a mark of arrogance and intolerance to do that. It implies that it is not enough to be a good person. One needs a splash in the Catholic baptismal font as well. If you say that being good is not enough then you are criticising goodness itself! You are setting out to warp.
Baptism insults the dignity of the child as a human person. It does that naturally. It is its essence. But it is far worse when commissioned by families and priests that think in terms of once a Catholic always a Catholic. If you are a Catholic and not living it then you are sinner. That is what the thought infers. It seeks to expose the child to the judgement of the fictitious god of the Church and the Church itself and society and judgemental Catholics who love to criticise and condemn if the child grows up to neglect the Church and even leave it.
If you believe that it is wrong to proselytise or to pressure people to join your religion, then by adopting ideas such as once a Catholic always a Catholic, you are depriving people of one important reason for believing such proselytism is wrong. You are eliminating the idea: "Nobody is obliged to join your religion or worship your God. Your religion or God doesn't own anybody. Everybody owns herself or himself" as a reason for condemning it. You are lessening the reasons for condemning it. An Atheist would say that a Church cannot think of you or treat you like you have a duty to become its member like you were its property etc. Thus his opposition and perception that it is bad would be stronger than that of a Catholic. The Catholic, even if he or she opposes proselytism, will have weaker opposition to it. If it were the only reason for forbidding proselytism, the Church would reject it. To teach doctrines that even slightly make opposition to proselytism weaker is reprehensible. It is a crack even if the Catholic would never proselytise. Its diminishing respect for others in the name of religion.
Priests intend to force a duty - to live as a true member of the Church and believe all the Church teaches and to obey it - on every baby they baptise.
To impose a duty to belong to a particular religion on a child is evil. The Church says that to refuse to go to Mass without a real reason such as sickness or having to look after a sick relative is a mortal sin. The baby is obligated to go to Mass when he grows up. Is it right to force such an obligation on the child when it makes him a bad person if he does not go?
If there is a duty, you will be able to provide proof that there is a duty. Nature writes the proof that we must look after our ailing parents or see that they are provided for. It writes that duty on our nature. But to say there is a duty to follow Catholicism is ridiculous. You may as well say there is a duty to say magic words over your car every morning. Once a Catholic always a Catholic implies you have a duty to call yourself Roman Catholic even though you have gone through a process of conversion to Presbyterianism and don't believe in Catholicism. It is harassment to tell somebody they have a duty unless you can prove the existence of the duty.
Most Catholics do not support the teachings of the Church.
They cut themselves off the community united by faith. The Church decrees this. As harsh as it looks, the decree is only recognising the truth. It is actually respecting their choice. A Church is a community of faith and you must have its faith to be part of the community.
Catholics picking what they like out of the faith is not enough to make them Catholic. Even atheists do that. Decent persons will not want to be counted among an organisation whose beliefs they do not support. This need not be spiteful. For the church to count them as members is dishonest and disrespectful to them. Likewise, for them to be able to represent themselves as a Catholic is disingenuous and not fair to real Catholics. The Church teaches you excommunicate yourself when you commit certain offences so you cease to become Catholic when you become convinced the Church is false. Also, if the Church is false then being Catholic is certainly only a label. It is only a man-made label conferred by a man-made faith.
A person can be Catholic by initiation through baptism but not a Catholic by faith. Without faith you are not a real member of the faith community. The Catholic who refuses to believe what he is supposed to believe is like the Protestant who selects what he wants out of the Catholic faith for the result will be a new faith that borrows from the old. The Protestants merely followed the Catholic structure and maintained it until they were thrown out. They called themselves Roman Catholics but were they really? No.
The liberal Catholic confuses having the right granted by the Church to have differing views on some matters such as Church discipline and Church politics etc with a right to reject the teaching of the Church. He denies that the Church has a right to be a Church and to bind and obligate members to believe certain things or at least to try to believe. They like to call themselves dissidents which has a better ring to it than the truth which is that they should call themselves heretics or rejecters of required Church teaching. The liberal Catholic surrenders not to the Catholic authorities in Catholic teaching but to the secularist values of the age or to Protestant values. He has to surrender - whether uncritically or not - to some authority and he will not let it be the Church - at least beyond a point.
The liberal "Catholics" confuse atheists and believers about what the Church teaches and that is disgraceful. One liberal disagrees with the next about rights. They may claim that they espouse commonly agreed rights. But who decides? The majority of the people? The opinion polls? The politicians. Rights will clash. Even those who say that morality and rights are just opinions and its intolerant to argue that they are more than that must confess that they are still promoting intolerance. If rights are just opinions then what if there is a clash of rights? The only solution is a might is right attitude that produces legal battles and even bloodshed.
Canon Law decrees a penalty of automatic excommunication for those who say they disbelieve or reject an infallible doctrine of the Church. For example, if you are a Catholic and you say the Pope is not the head of the Church or that marriage is a load of bollocks you are excommunicated. You are barred from the sacraments and the right to hold Church office. You are barred from the sacraments and from holding office in the Church for sinning as well. To contradict the Church is a sin. So does this all mean that being excommunicated for heresy is no different at all from just being a sinner? A sinner can be a member of the Church even though barred from the sacraments and the right to hold Church office if the sin is serious enough. A heretic cannot. The heretic is not excommunicated because he or she is a sinner and has committed the sin of heresy. The heretic is excommunicated because in heresy one repudiates the teaching authority of the Church and denies that the Church is teacher thus the excommunication declares that the heretic has put oneself outside the Church and is not a member. Those Catholics who contradict the Church cease to be Catholics for they are expelled by excommunication.
To put it another way, the Church says I cut myself off from the sacraments by sinning. So if I get excommunicated I will be no better or worse off. So what is the point of excommunication? It is like sacking your employee who has walked out of the job. It would be vindictive. It would show you spitefully want rid. The only way around this is to consider the fact that excommunicate means you are not in communion or union with the Church anymore. Excommunication puts you out of unity with the Church.
A religion that declares people who have undergone some ritual are members even if they don't believe and no matter what they do is not even loyal to itself. It is self-destruction. The Christian faith would disappear if baptism made you a member of the Church and what you believed and did made no difference. What would you say to the man who upon hearing of Muhammad said he was a Muslim and made no effort to join the Islamic community and said he didn't believe Muhammad was a prophet and didn't believe in the Koran?
You could say nothing if you think faith and genuine membership of a religion don't necessarily go together. If they don't, then the Catholic has the right to claim to be Catholic while saying the Mass is rubbish and nobody should attend it. He would be whatever he called himself? What then if he decided that he was pope?
The Church does not teach "Once a Catholic Always a Catholic". The view that once a Catholic always a Catholic is popular among Catholics but does not fit Catholic teaching or canon law. The Church says that strictly speaking there is only Catholic baptism. A Protestant unknowingly receives a Catholic baptism when she is baptised in the Protestant Church. But she is not regarded as subject to Canon Law. Nobody in their right mind would hold that if she joined the Catholic Church and thus came under Canon Law for five minutes and then went back to Protestantism that once a Catholic always a Catholic is true.
Jesus himself did not believe the doctrine of once a Jew always a Jew for he claimed that the bad Jews were not children of Abraham - in other words not real Jews at all. His Church claimed to be the new and updated Judaism thus if once a Jew then always a Jew is wrong so is once a Catholic then a Catholic forever. He said that he was the vine and if a branch does not bear fruit it will be cut off and destroyed. The apostle John wrote of believers who joined the Church and left and stated that they never really belonged. The Bible does not teach that you can be a member of God's visible organisation forever no matter what you do. But how does this fit the Bible teaching that once saved always saved? That doctrine does not imply that you are a member of God's people no matter what you do. It only means you will still go to Heaven if you reject the Church and God.
A Catholic book, Unicorn in the Sanctuary - The Impact of the New Age on the Catholic Church states on page 97, "Is the Christian path the only way to achieve eternal life with God? Or are other religions valid prescriptions for other peoples? Are Hinduism, Buddhism, Mormonism and African religions valid paths to God? Let me be clear that when I speak of a Hindu, I mean one who practices orthodox Hindu religion. In the same way, a Mormon is one who follows the teachings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. If a person calls himself a Mormon, claims allegiance to Joseph Smith, but does not believe that God the Father is a flesh and blood man or that Jesus and Lucifer were brothers, then that person is not an orthodox Mormon. If, instead, he ignores these doctrines, and begins to believe that Jesus Christ is the only-begotten Son of God who came to die for his sins, but still calls himself a Mormon, then we would find it difficult to consider him still a Mormon." The same would be true of Catholicism. Catholics believe you need a valid baptism and when you are old enough to decide for yourself you need to adhere to the entire Catholic faith to be a real Catholic.
The Church says that Catholic Church is in Heaven and on earth and in Purgatory. The Church does not believe that the people in Hell are to be counted members of the Church even if they carry the baptism mark.
In Canon Law you are a lapsed Catholic if you don't practice and you become a non-Catholic if you convert to another religion. The Church accepts the concept of apostasy, Catholics ceasing to be Catholics. The Church teaches that you always belong to the Church if you are baptised but that is not the same as saying you will always be a member. If you belong to Jesus, that does not mean you are a member of his Church no matter what you believe and do. A dog may belong in my house and not be there and wander off and be lost. A sheep may belong to the flock and the flock may be waiting the lost sheep coming back even though the sheep will no longer be a member of the flock. The once a Catholic always a Catholic kind of attitude is a boast that this organisation, the Catholic Church is so special that it can hardly be considered to be a human organisation but divine. You don't say that if somebody is a member of a club they are always a member. You don't say once a doctor always a doctor. Since you don't, if you say once a Catholic always a Catholic then you don't put as much value on being a doctor as being a Catholic and that is bigoted and fanatical and downright evil. You are saying an initiation rite that makes Catholics is more important than a man studying and working to help others.
If you can be received into the Catholic Church if you are validly baptised a Protestant, then you can certainly reverse this reception. You can become un-received. You can leave the Church. You can formally defect. Canon Law speaks of formal defection from the Catholic Church and recognises it.
From the Encyclical Satis Cognitum Pope Leo XIII: "There can be nothing more dangerous than those heretics who admit who admit nearly the whole cycle of doctrine, yet by one word, as with a drop of poison, infect the real and simple faith taught by Our Lord and handed down by apostolic tradition - Augustine. The practice of the Church has always been the same, as is shown by the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, who were wont to hold as outside Catholic communion, and alien to the Church, whoever would recede in the least degree from any point of doctrine proposed by her authorative magisterium. St Augustine notes that heresies may spring up, not to a single one of which should anyone give his assent, he is by the very fact cut off from Catholic unity. Augustine in De Haeresibus n. 88 wrote that there may be or may arise some heresies and that if anybody holds to a single one of these he is not a Catholic."

Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, 1441: “The Holy Roman Church condemns, reproves, anathematizes and declares to be outside the Body of Christ, which is the Church, the heretic for he holds opposing or contrary views.”
Church law (until 2010) decrees that it can be possible to defect from the Church. Those who say the practice of formal defection exempts the Catholic only from marriage law - like the Church letting a rebellious child have its own way - need to consider the following. If the Church can exempt from matrimonial law it can exempt from all of Church law or canon law. Also, defection means leaving the Church. To say it lets you marry as you wish without regard to the Church is ridiculous. It is like saying sacking somebody from their job only means you will give them no bonus at Christmas anymore. And most defectors are not interested in getting married at all. And matrimonial law in the Church is said to be moral law not just judicial law. For example, the Church cannot exempt you so that you can contract a new marriage while your first spouse is still alive. To attempt such an exemption would be invalid. Church law is overridden by divine law.
Those who say Once a Catholic Always a Catholic are often not Catholics or authentic Catholics themselves! They deny what Canon Law says about excommunication. If you can pick and choose what you like out of Catholicism then why can't you do the same with Islam and claim to be a member of both religions? Religion would collapse if picking and choosing was right! There would be no real point in worrying about religious membership at all then!
Some people say that Catholics who reject the Church reject what they think the Church is not what it is. This is thought to imply that they have not really left the Church or really rejected it. Then it may be said that those people are implicit Catholics for if they knew better they would not have tried to leave.
It assumes that there is no religion better than the Catholic religion. It is arrogant and patronising.
It also assumes that Church teaching is really good. But if it is so good, then why do even the popes not behave in a way consistent with believing all of the faith? For example, the pope should recoil and vomit when he sees Gay Pride marching in Rome if he really believes homosexuality is a sin that takes people to the place of everlasting and irrevocable punishment.
The angels belong to God from the first moment of their creation. Angels are not human so they don't contract original sin. The angels always belong to God until they turn against him like Satan did. Satan reversed his membership in God's family by sin. Adam and Eve were created as members of God's family and members of his circle of friends. We would have been too if we had no original sin. The Church teaches that beings who come into existence without original sin and who are made as holy beings cease to be members of God's family and Church upon sinning. They have to restore membership by repenting.
It seems the Church thinks if we were born sinless, we would lose our membership of the Church by sin. If that is so, it would be strange to say that if we have original sin which keeps us out of the Church and get baptised to put us into the Church we cannot lose such membership if we then fall into sin! It would make no sense. It would contradict the fact that angels belonged to God and many of them no longer belong to him and are demons. The doctrine that Adam and Eve ceased to be members of God's family and ceased to belong to him when they sinned implies that if you renounce baptism you cease to be a member of God's Church which is his family on earth.
If original sin, a sin which you have not even committed but which you carry from the first moment of your existence until its forgiven in baptism, excludes you from the Church how much more will your own sin do it?
The paperwork method of obtaining membership in the Roman Church should be universal
God could have decreed that once you sign a few papers you become a member of the Church - (indeed the Church says he has laid out that rule for Protestants who wish to convert). If he had it left up to us, it would have been more dignified for us and also for himself. The baptism system would be undignified.
Conclusion: A person can cease to be a member of the Catholic Church. Once Catholic says you were a Catholic once. Always Catholic contradicts that! Religions claim to be true and that they educate people in religious truth and this religious truth will cover issues such as history and miracles and science and ethics. Catholicism does not tell you to refrain from adultery because it hurts people but because the faith reveals that it is wrong. If you are Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Mormon or Jewish do not think that your religion's truth claims are incidental to its identity. The claims are integral to the religion. The claims are the religion - they are the religious identity. If the claims are lies or false then there is no such thing in reality as a Catholic. The religion's actions are a reflection of its truth claims. The Mass for example becomes a mere ceremony and a shell if the truth claims are false. The faith is not about the Mass but about the faith expressed by the Mass.


Every religion has to have rules about who is a member. The Catholic Church regards the Catholic who repudiates transubstantion as a Protestant - ie a Christian who has declared independence from the Roman Church. The person who knows a teaching is essential for being a Catholic and rejects it should look for another Church. He should not be pretending to be a Roman Catholic. To go through the motions of staying when he can join his local Anglican Church smacks of sectarianism. If he is to be considered a Roman Catholic then the word hypocrite becomes meaningless. You cannot be a genuine member of any community if you reject its ideals. Any Catholic who does not believe but who is trying to can be a Catholic. The one who is not trying is not. Morever, an individual Catholic who acts as if he can pick and choose what to believe is not recognising the Pope as the head teacher of the Church who stands in the place of Jesus Christ.