Some people say once a Catholic always a Catholic.

Are they referring to a label?  The Catholic label?  Do you get stuck with the 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?


Quran 7:172 declares that the “children of Adam”, all people, are born Muslim but it is parents who make you something else. Sahih Muslim 33:6426 says that no baby is born non-Muslim – it is the parents who have him as a polytheist or Jew or Christian. Talk of converts to Islam offends the Muslim faith. It is reverts not converts.  This is a direct rebuttal of the claim that once you are Catholic you are always Catholic.  And it also rebuts the more modest claim that once you are baptised validly as a Catholic you are obligated to belong to the Catholic Church and accept it as wiser than you and obey it as it stands in the place of Jesus, God's unerring and all-wise son.

Once Catholic is always Catholic only rose to importance after Islam appeared.  It is Islamaphobic in today's politically correct culture.  It is horrible to invalidate somebody else's label.  That is what happens if a person is baptised and becomes Muslim.  It even happens when the baby is secretly baptised by a Catholic and raised as a Muslim.  But Christians will say the same thing of Muslims who regard religions just as constructs and their labels mere words for everybody is really a Muslim and obligated to obey Islam. 

What can people mean by the saying?

Is it just about a label?  A label has to be descriptive.  It has to mean something.  Politicians label without concern if it is true or not.  It is all about courting votes from particular label carriers and "reconciling" people who are divided by labels.  If people are saying that being Catholic as in believer is not as important as anything else then they are just "us and not them" kind of creatures.  They use a word to divide.  Make no mistake.  Religion is a religion but it is not just religion.  It is mainly a political force.  It may be an indirect one but it is a political force and influence.  It is also something that has power in society.  It is a societal force as well.  For that reason, you have every right to rage against being labelled for what it leads to politically.

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 it's a sort of racism to treat perceived label-bearers as having this label when they either reject it or think it is 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 the label question as follows:

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. It is 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 - it is one, it is holy, it is 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.

Don't take "Once a Catholic, always one" seriously.  Challenging it vociferously is not taking it seriously.  It is because it is a lie that is forced on you that you have to take no nonsense from Catholics.  If it is forced on others who think the label is true of them that will impact you.  You are not an island and the errors of others can effect you and do in ways you cannot imagine.

Other topics to think about include,

"Why is it once a Catholic and not once a Christian?"

"The Bible in the letters of Paul says that a Jew loses the right to the name of Jew by sinning so religious labels only describe faithful people who may sin but who turn around fast."

"Jesus did not give what came after him any religious labels.  He kept it descriptive and avoided labels by saying that whoever is not fully for him is his enemy.  It is that simple."


The Catholic Church cannot claim that members always belong to it. It has no enforcement plan, no system at all, to make lapsed Catholics and apostates pay their financial “duties” to the church. It knows fine well that its claim that your membership is forever and you are obligated to act like a member is untrue. At the minimum you pay money for its costs if you are really a member. It knows that baptism does not really give eternal membership in the Church.  If it says you are a Catholic forever or at least obligated to be an active one, it contradicts it other ways.


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