Being a member of the Catholic Church means you consent to punishment in some form, perhaps stern disapproval, if you break canon law.  Canon Law prescribes penalties for deliberate law-breaking. 

The rules are that the Catholic must keep Canon Law even if she or he knows nothing of it.  The Protestant who is truly baptised despite having a baptism that the Catholic Church recognises as connecting them to Jesus's true Church the Catholic Church does not have to keep Canon Law.

How does a former Catholic then get out of being bound by Canon Law?

Catholics say you can still put yourself out of the Catholic organisation by heresy and schism or whatever.

The claim that you are still Catholic allegedly describes the fact not that the Church owns you or your soul but God does.  God takes ownership of you when you get baptised.

So you are not Catholic as in organisation or community but you are still spiritually Catholic - perhaps the best way to say this is your soul is Catholic.  You have broken with the Church but not with the obligation God gave you to belong properly to the Church.  You are connected through God invisibly.

The Church holds that Protestants are baptised with a Catholic baptism for there is no other kind no matter who thinks there is but they still don't become Catholics for they make a decision to follow the faith they are presented with.

Practically speaking and socially speaking any invisible connection to the Church through God and through God owning you does not matter.  If you drop the Church organisation you are in all essentials an ex-Catholic.

So it is not true that Canon Law fails to admit that there are ex-Catholics. Canon Law does not decree that it is impossible to be an ex-Catholic. It presupposes that it is possible.

You could argue that if you are still owned by God despite leaving the Church that we should be saying you cannot be called Catholic but called God's.  It is not clear why we have to call this ghostly connection Catholic.  Why not Christian or something? 
Anyway non-Catholics are not bound by Canon Law in any way whatsoever.  Non-Catholics could still be bound by Canon Law. They are not. This proves that Canon Law holds that not all who are grafted on to the Church by baptism need obey it. Their baptismal outward membership of the Church has been cancelled.

Some say that Canon Law treats people whether they are Catholics or ex-Catholics as Catholics. If so, they are clearly treated that way for the purpose of law. It does not mean you cannot be an ex-Catholic.

Catholic doctrine says that baptism makes the baptised baby different from the baby who is not baptised. The baptised is a different kind of human - a Catholic one. There is what is called an ontological change. The soul belongs to God. Nothing can change that belonging. But even if you belong to the Church forever, that would mean you should be a member not that you are stuck with membership whether you like it or not!

Catholic baptism confers the obligation to obey Canon Law and the Pope, who stands in the place of Jesus Christ. However this is impossible if you were baptised as a baby for you cannot take all that on.  And there is no point at which a child becomes Catholic.  A child baptised Catholic and raised Protestant is regarded as not being Catholic.  The Church teaches that Jesus Christ baptises strictly speaking, when anybody is validly baptised. Baptism outside the Catholic Church is still considered baptism into the Catholic Church.  Yet a child baptised in a Protestant Church will not be put under Catholic law unless he or she becomes Catholic.  But there is no point when the law supposedly takes effect over you.  It is just imposed and assumed.

We conclude that even in Church law, it is absurd to say that you are tied to Catholic membership forever if you are baptised.


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