RSS

Letter From a Catholic Priest

02 Apr

The Catholic church just doesn’t want you to leave. They baptise you before you can make a decision for yourself, and then make it artificially difficult for you to extricate yourself, so difficult that most people just don’t bother. And this leads to the Catholic church being able to boast a “membership” that is nothing at all like the actual numbers, because many of these “members” have not mumbled in a church for years and probably never will again.

Well now there is hope as these people have built a website making the process, if not simple, at least doable.

I have been pursuing this process myself over the last couple of months and now my Declaration of Defection (actus formalis defectionis ab Ecclesia catholica) has reached the parish priest of the town where I grew up.

And this man has taken it upon himself to send me a hand-written letter explaining why I should reconsider my decision, as well as pointing out how great the Catholic faith is and why I should stick with it, just, you know, in case.

This letter has left me gobsmacked. Well and truly speechless. I don’t even know how to reply. In fact I will refrain from even commenting on it and allow you to read it for yourself.

And, when you’re done, and your gob has ceased smacking, please let me know how you think I should formulate my reply. Because a reply there shall be, oh yes, and the little priest’s eyes will be burned from his self-righteous head by a truly scorching analysis of his bag of sickening clichés, his idiotic and laughable “beliefs” and his despotic, parasitical and thoroughly nasty church.

In fact, this is a golden opportunity, to be able to dissect the best arguments of a Catholic priest, line by flabby line, and let him know precisely what reasoning people think of his stinking cesspit of an organisation. And the best part is – he will read it all, every line, because he has to!

Oh I can hardly wait. But first, for your delectation – the letter itself:

ear XX

I received your letter regarding your desire to leave the Catholic Church. I feel a need to drop you a line before I change the register.

I have been in PARADISE parish since last July and have the privilege of ministering to the people. I use the word privilege because my vocation as a priest allows me to share a little of my faith and be helped and strengthened by the faith of the people.

Tonight we had a wonderful ceremony of First Confession for the children. It was powerful to see the huge commitment of parents and teachers in handing on the faith.

On the occasions of funerals I see great acceptance of loss in people who are practicing the faith. However those who are not practicing find the loss very difficult as the powerful sense of hope is lost.

Next week we celebrate the great Easter Ceremonies. On Easter Sunday morning at 6 am we have an open air mass to welcome the new life and hope of Easter as the dawn comes upon us. You may remember these ceremonies. God knows we need hope in our church at this time.

When you were baptised in June 19XX your parents XY and XX desired that you would be welcomed into the church. Like all the other gifts they gave you as a child they wanted you to have the great gift of faith. That gift was bestowed on them on the day they were baptised. It was a privilege for them to share the gift with their child

The gift of faith is a spiritual gift bestowed on us for a lifetime. You will have it for your lifetime even though it may not be appreciated for now. Changing the register does not take away that gift.

Faith is calling you and I each day to do good and to pray. Through the church the Lord is helping and supporting us.

Apologies for my handwriting. My computer skills are not great.

You may like to reflect on my words or you may like to disregard them, but I feel a need to say them. I wish you well in your work and good health and happiness in the years ahead. If you are home in PARADISE anytime drop in for a cup of tea. You might let me know if you have reconsidered.

All the best,

Fr John Doe

Okay people, the game is on. We got the priest in our sights. Now take a deep breath, squeeze that rhetorical trigger and let’s go get him!

/ paddy

About these ads
 
140 Comments

Posted by on April 2, 2010 in Ireland, Life, Religion

 

Tags: , , ,

140 responses to “Letter From a Catholic Priest

  1. Ben Warsop

    April 2, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    I’m speechless. I also find myself wondering if bullying a parish priest is worth it, but then I am not now and never have been Catholic and there is no such thing as a lapsed Anglican.

    I do have one relevant comment. I recently came face to face with the soothing thought that there is no continuation after death and I will neither mind nor know if I die. That’s comforting. A bitch for those left behind, of course, but the letter is written to you not them.

    Nice top trumps card.

    Ben

     
    • paddyK

      April 2, 2010 at 12:46 pm

      I don’t plan to bully him, just take his letter point by point and tell him what I think of his patronising “arguments”. He obviously has not encountered people up to this point who dare to reason against him. This I will change.

       
      • Ben Warsop

        April 3, 2010 at 10:42 am

        By the way, I meant I was left speechless by the bizarre subjective irrelevance of what he had to say, not by anything else.

        As you know, I’m not fond of wrestling pigs ( http://tinyurl.com/WrestlingPigs but your hobbies and pass-times are up to you.

        I’ll watch from the sidelines and eat pop-corn though. :-)

        Ben

         
    • paddyK

      April 2, 2010 at 12:47 pm

      And yes, death is only bad for those having to deal with it. One plus with being the person doing the dying.

       
  2. Melliferax

    April 2, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Like Ben I at first felt a little uncertain about whether you should actually reply at all, after all he’s just one poor deluded sod … but on the other hand he is an official representative of one of the most fucked up organisations on earth. So yeah, he has it coming.

    It really drives the point home how divorced his way of thinking is from reality when the first point he makes in favour of his wonderful community is the First Confession ceremony. I mean, how could any sane person think that telling children they’re full of sin and need to confess for absolution is a good idea?!

     
    • paddyK

      April 2, 2010 at 10:36 pm

      We start full of sin and then we spend out whole lives avoiding sin? Seems a bit daft.

       
    • keri

      April 3, 2010 at 3:52 pm

      I mean, how could any sane person think that telling children they’re full of sin and need to confess for absolution is a good idea?!

      And thus a major reason why I and many others who grew up Catholic are so fucked up in the head. It’s weird, though, to say that I’m an atheist now simply because it’s the only way to gain the self-respect and confidence that my Catholic upbringing never allowed me to have, because of the beliefs that the whole Confession ceremony tends to instill.

       
      • John Pieret

        April 3, 2010 at 8:25 pm

        I actually remember (okay, remember remembering) standing in line in Catholic school waiting to be taken to my first confession thinking about what *lie* I could tell the priest about my behavior that would sound like I was sorry about something I had done.

        I guess I never thought I was full of sin back then (though I’ve had my regrets since).

        Paddy:

        I would just thank the priest for his empty platitudes and, since changing the register does not take away faith, would you just do it anyway, thank you very much.

         
  3. Bellis

    April 2, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Father,

    forgive me, for I have sinned.

    I do realize what a privilege it must be for you to minister to the poeople. Such privilege has obviously been enjoyed by a number of your collegaues in Ireland, ministering intimate and close bodily contact to little boys. What a joyous feeling it must be to be able to impart this kind, caring, bodily camradeship between Father and little boy.

    Also, I have suddenly realized why the Catholic church has so fervently burnt people at the stake throughout history, not to mention all the Ulster Catholics killing people in terroist attacks throughout The Troubles. Of course, in view of the fact that there is such Hope in death and dying, as you rightly point out in your letter, Father, you lot were doing them a great favour, sending them all that much earlier to God. As the The Third Man in the film with that same title so aptly said: “The dead are happier dead. They don’t miss much here, poor devils.” And having just this day studied my Bible, I can see how fond God is of death, himself imparting it to the whole world except Noah already in the first chapter, not to mention the various cities and whole peoples he ministers to a bit later on. How glorious Faith is, giving us all such Hope.

    And yes, I do remember the wonderful Easter ceremonies from my youth in Ireland. How the Father was preaching belief in a man called Jesus, who was God incarnate walking the Earth – God, being almighty and all-knowing, going to such trouble to try and save us all! Now, God being all good as well, I used to wonder why He, with all these abilities – omnipotent, all-knowing, all goood – didn’t just save us all by just snapping his fingers, but I do now see that this would have robbed us of the glorious opportunity to bow down to Him year in and year out, in what I previously thought to be fruitless prayer to a being it was all but superstitious to believe in, since the qualities which are ascribed to him are, taken together, self-contradictory. How blind I was!

    And tears well to my eyes when I think of this wonderful gift my parents bestowed upon me, having me baptised as a Catholic. To be able to revel in all this glorious, stern non-acceptance, not to say righteous hatred, of sinful people like homosexuals, women who abort unborn children, protestants, atheists, and other such minions of the Devil, is a gift indeed. I am now flabbergasted at my own inability to realize this before I received your kind letter.

    I feel that we must absolutely have a nice cup of tea and a chat – and pray and do good! – in our parish church next time I visit my parents in Ireland. I’ll bring them along, by the way, so that they can see what a truly great gift they bestowed upon me!

    Thank you, Father, for your time!

    All the best,
    Paddy K

     
    • paddyK

      April 2, 2010 at 10:37 pm

      You’re trying to apply reason to Catholicism, I see. Good luck with that one.

       
  4. Lucy

    April 2, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this. I was unaware that this was possible. I don’t have an answer for you about what to say to that priest, just wanted to say thanks.

     
    • paddyK

      April 2, 2010 at 10:37 pm

      You’re welcome! The process is easy. Good luck and see you in hell!

       
  5. Sean Mulroy

    April 2, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Oh deary deary me. Enjoy !!!!
    Remember to exhale as you squeeze the trigger!

     
    • paddyK

      April 2, 2010 at 10:38 pm

      Enjoy I will, oh yes.

       
  6. Martin R

    April 2, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    Sending a reply to the priest probably won’t accomplish anything. Make sure to publish your letter here on the blog: that’s where it’ll have a chance to make it worth your while writing it.

    My main point when talking to religious people about their faith is that I accept none of their dogma, regardless of whether they are spelled out in their holy book or have just accreted onto it through the centuries as in Catholicism. “Your holy book and religious traditions are not authoritative sources of knowledge in this discussion.” If they are clear-sighted enough to actually understand what this condition entails, it becomes effectively impossible for them to argue for their beliefs.

     
    • paddyK

      April 2, 2010 at 10:39 pm

      Of course! I’m an attention whore, I do almost nothing these days that isn’t bloggable.

      This man has apparently never encountered reason in his life; it’s time he was introduced.

       
  7. Dave

    April 3, 2010 at 2:44 am

    Less is more!
    “I wish to disregard your words” period.

     
    • paddyK

      April 3, 2010 at 8:47 am

      Too short and kind. I aim to make this fellow squirm.

       
  8. ladyfi

    April 3, 2010 at 5:04 am

    At the risk of you excommunicating me forever and ever… I think that if religion brings comfort to people, if their faith gives them hope, then why not? As long as they do not harm others. Of course, the Catholic Church not doing anything about those bl–dy priest molesters is appalling and enough to make anyone leave the church screaming! I am utterly disgusted once again by the Church’s refusal to do anything about it!! Having said that…

    … just because some people believe in the Catholic faith doesn’t mean that they condone the actions of the church – does it?

    My aunt and grandmother were Catholics. When my grandmother died, my aunt (who was in a wheelchair all her life) and who had lived with her mum (my grandmother) decided to carry on living in their house – but on her own. This was only made possible by all the people from her church who came by every day and helped her with her daily chores.

    In my opinion, this was a truer outpouring of their faith – the sense of community and friendship that sustained my aunt until she died.

    I guess what I’m saying is that some aspects of faith can be inspiring.. .we just need to get rid of the institution and male power infrastructure that is the church!

     
    • paddyK

      April 3, 2010 at 8:45 am

      Fi: Short answer, although I could go on and on and on…

      There are good people in the world, and they would STILL be good regardless of which invisible sky fairy they mumble to. Religion does NOT cause good morals, it just rides upon them.

      And YES. Being a Catholic means that you support the organisation. Otherwise you would leave. Is that so hard to understand? In what sphere of life does staying in an organisation mean that you do NOT support it?

      Religion has caused vastly more harm than good. Vastly. If you want proof I will provide it. Which is one thing that religious people cannot provide – proof.

       
    • Melliferax

      April 3, 2010 at 9:20 am

      “I guess what I’m saying is that some aspects of faith can be inspiring.. .we just need to get rid of the institution and male power infrastructure that is the church!”

      But that’s the point. It is exactly that institution that this priest represents. He’s a PRIEST ffs. He’s not just any random catholic, but someone who WORKS for the church. If he doesn’t condone what it does, well, he did a piss-poor job of saying so. But either way, this isn’t about trying to convince the guy that he should leave the church (that is very unlikely to work), but rather explaining why Paddy doesn’t want to be part of it.

      As for “why not”, personally I think that believing in things that are not true generally has the potential to be quite harmful. This website is full of examples of this.

       
      • ladyfi

        April 7, 2010 at 8:59 am

        If people want to believe in Santa, the Tooth fairy, unicorns or god.. let them! What’s so wrong with people having something to believe in – even if they don’t exist? Not everyone can be rational or logical— which, in itself, is some kind of belief system.

         
    • Bellis

      April 3, 2010 at 10:09 am

      “My aunt and grandmother were Catholics. When my grandmother died, my aunt (who was in a wheelchair all her life) and who had lived with her mum (my grandmother) decided to carry on living in their house – but on her own. This was only made possible by all the people from her church who came by every day and helped her with her daily chores.

      In my opinion, this was a truer outpouring of their faith – the sense of community and friendship that sustained my aunt until she died.”

      Not to in any way insult your family, but if your aunt was confined to a wheelchair all her life, didn’ she ever wonder why God, being omnipotent, all-knowing and all good, confined her to the wheelchair all her life? Why did he put her there in the first place? And having done this ghastly mistake (in spite of being omnipotent), why didn’t he immediately rectify it?

      As for people helping others in the name of God, I would regard that as basically quite selfish morals, actually. Because they – and especially Catholics – believe that failing to do so will secure them a place in hell. Which, by the way, obviously do not make any substantial number of them particularly helpful anyway, at least not when it comes to non-people like homosexuals, Protestants, feminists, and so on, and so forth. I take it that your grandmother and aunt were Irish Catholics, right? Now, would these same folks that helped your aunt have been as helpful if she’d been an Irish Protestant? Or an atheist? Or a lesbian? Allow me to doubt that.

      It is a grave error indeed to equate morals with religion. They are not the same thing, in any sense of the words. And true altruistic behaviour does not look for its own reward (i.e. a place in Heaven), but springs from a good and kind heart.

      Religious good morals, on the other hand, are basically a prime example of hypocrisy.

      All the best,
      Bellis

       
      • ladyfi

        April 7, 2010 at 9:02 am

        Definitely not Irish Catholics! Yorkshire ones… So much for jumping to conclusions? ;-)

        I’m an agnostic myself, but I find it difficult to understand why helping someone in the name of God is any less of a good deed than helping someone because you feel you want to or ought to…

         
  9. Bellis

    April 3, 2010 at 10:23 am

    By the way, and please excuse me for this, since it is off-topic, but I am interested in language. Above I happened to type “done this ghastly mistake”, whereby I made a mistake. But I have seen the usage “do a mistake” off and on, and that is probably what lurked in my fast-typing fingers. Is it ever possible to say “do a mistake” in idiomatic English?

    Once again, forgive me for being off-topic, and erase this comment should you feel like it, Paddy.

    All the best,
    Bellis

     
  10. Bellis

    April 3, 2010 at 10:44 am

    Speaking of religion, and since I’m sitting here waiting to go catch a bus to the countryside with nothing much to do but polluting Paddy’s blog with various comments, I will state that religion has contributed to something that I truly and honestly do like very much.

    I happen to be a great fan of sacral music, more particularly a capella masses for women choirs from the Middle Ages, of the variety that can often be heard here:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006tp7r

    They are, most often, incredibly beautiful, and very soothing and relaxing and meditative.

    Now, the true origin of these masses is of course not religion at all but gifted composers, but these same composers were greatly inspired by their religious faith.

    So ok, I’ll chalk up one point in favour of religion.

    But that is about the only one I can think of.

    All the best,
    Bellis

     
    • Anonymous

      April 4, 2010 at 5:13 am

      Vaugh Williams wrote some phenomenally beautiful “sacred” music while professing no belief in god(s).

       
  11. B. Vazquez

    April 3, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Please do not bully the priest. Simply thank him for taking the time to write to you, take him up on his tea invitation, and continue your process to officially get out of the Church. I had this experience. I met with the priest who was an old man, an uncle of a friend of mine, and a good person. He was terribly disappointed in his Church’s actions, tired, and wondering if he spent his life under a delusion. He did good things throughout his life, much like your priest in this letter, giving people peace during difficult times. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not just athiest, I’m anti-religion, but I recognize that this guy probably does not deserve your wrath. If he made this kind of effort, just let it go.

     
  12. Jean-Denis Muys

    April 3, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Tearing that letter down is too easy. There is no challenge. It’s not even worth spending any time over it. Here is a mightier challenge: how would *you* have done it in his place?

    Yeah I think so too: this is a challenge that cannot be met.

    So let’s leave the poor guy alone.

     
  13. Kemanorel

    April 3, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Paddy,

    Here’s what I would do… send him back his own letter with your reply written on top of it kind of in this format:

    ————–
    I received your letter regarding your desire to leave the Catholic Church. I feel a need to drop you a line before I change the register.

    “Go ahead and get your pen ready.”

    I have been in PARADISE parish since last July and have the privilege of ministering to the people. I use the word privilege because my vocation as a priest allows me to share a little of my faith and be helped and strengthened by the faith of the people.

    “Great for you. This means nothing to me.”

    Tonight we had a wonderful ceremony of First Confession for the children. It was powerful to see the huge commitment of parents and teachers in handing on the faith.

    “Tonight we had a wonderful ceremony of indoctrination to break down the self-esteem of children so they think less of themselves. It was powerful and sickening to see the huge commitment of parents and teachers that required to indoctrinate our children so the church can survive for another generation.

    There… fixed it for you.”

    On the occasions of funerals I see great acceptance of loss in people who are practicing the faith. However those who are not practicing find the loss very difficult as the powerful sense of hope is lost.

    “Acceptance of loss? Why aren’t you joyful? They’s supposed to be going to God, right? BTW, I take matter of death better than people of faith, and it’s pompus and insulting that you imply that I have no sense of hope. To this I would tell you to kindly fuck off.”

    Next week we celebrate the great Easter Ceremonies. On Easter Sunday morning at 6 am we have an open air mass to welcome the new life and hope of Easter as the dawn comes upon us. You may remember these ceremonies. God knows we need hope in our church at this time.

    “See? There you go. I told you you’re supposed to be joyful at funerals. What’s more joyful than celebrating someone’s torture and murder (even if he is a fictional character).”

    When you were baptised in June 19XX your parents XY and XX desired that you would be welcomed into the church. Like all the other gifts they gave you as a child they wanted you to have the great gift of faith. That gift was bestowed on them on the day they were baptised. It was a privilege for them to share the gift with their child

    “When I was baptised on June 19XX, that was my parents desire, not mine. I should be in no way bound to your pathetic organisation because my parents were indoctrined by my grandparents. I don’t consider faith a gift, I consider it a plague on humanity for the detriment it has brought to the world.

    I don’t care if it was a privilege to them. It is an annoyance for me to have to go through this process because I feel sickened by the idea that you claim me among your numbers.”

    The gift of faith is a spiritual gift bestowed on us for a lifetime. You will have it for your lifetime even though it may not be appreciated for now. Changing the register does not take away that gift.

    “Nope… my “gift” of faith ended the second I became an atheist. The rest of this paragraph is moot nonsense, like your church’s claim that sacraments leave an “unindelible mark on the soul.” If you ever prove a soul exists, let me know. Otherwise, just go ahead and get that pen in hand and get ready to remove me from your registry.”

    Faith is calling you and I each day to do good and to pray. Through the church the Lord is helping and supporting us.

    “Nothing is calling you and I each day to do good and to pray except our own conscience. Through the church, the people are supporting a bunch of lazy asses claiming to know things they can’t. Soon, the church will fail, and the world will be better for it.”

    Apologies for my handwriting. My computer skills are not great.

    “Not surprising. The church tends to shun technology and make it progress as slowly as possible…”

    You may like to reflect on my words or you may like to disregard them, but I feel a need to say them. I wish you well in your work and good health and happiness in the years ahead. If you are home in PARADISE anytime drop in for a cup of tea. You might let me know if you have reconsidered.

    “I’ll disregard them. I don’t care if you need to say them. The fact they’re coming from a pompus ass is a bit nausiating, but I’m not spewing yet. I’d be glad to stop in for tea, but if you start preaching, I’m going to come in on Sunday and start preaching science and Darwin.

    I’ll reconsider when you hand me a peer-reviewed scientific paper proving God, Jesus, the afterlife, or souls. Until then, don’t expect anything except that my name remain off the register…

    You can go ahead and change the registry now.

    ,

    —————–

     
  14. Dan Dare

    April 3, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    I think there are two issues to seperate. The human being who wrote the letter and the ideas expressed.

    You can thank the guy for his well meaning, and then refute his points somewhat clinically. Let him know that you have not switched religions but find the “gift of faith” of no personal value whatsoever.

    My 2c.

     
  15. Gordon

    April 3, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Dear Priest, you have a cheek mentioning children in an appeal to remain in the catholic church. Send me my ammended records and sod off.

     
  16. paddyK

    April 3, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Everybody: Thanks for comments all!

    I do not intend to attack the priest as a person. But by sending me this letter he has opened himself to a discussion on these matters. And I intend to tackle his points.

    Let me also point out that this priest has huge power in the little community. He is by default the head of the primary school board and regularly takes kids out of class (usually math) to work for free in the church. He also can interrupt any class at will to indoctrinate the children.

    He might be a “kind” man but if he cannot defend what his organisation is doing, then he should simply leave it and save his conscience (if not his soul).

    And he if wants to start a discussion, he should be prepared to continue it to its conclusion.

     
  17. Aetre

    April 3, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Best to keep it simple:

    “Lovely letter. Now shut up and take me off the records.”

     
  18. Will

    April 3, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    When you were baptised in June 19XX your parents XY and XX desired that you would be welcomed into the church. Like all the other gifts they gave you as a child they wanted you to have the great gift of faith. That gift was bestowed on them on the day they were baptised. It was a privilege for them to share the gift with their child

    The gift of faith is a spiritual gift bestowed on us for a lifetime. You will have it for your lifetime even though it may not be appreciated for now. Changing the register does not take away that gift.

    Faith is calling you and I each day to do good and to pray. Through the church the Lord is helping and supporting us.

    You may like to reflect on my words or you may like to disregard them, but I feel a need to say them. I wish you well in your work and good health and happiness in the years ahead. If you are home in PARADISE anytime drop in for a cup of tea. You might let me know if you have reconsidered.

    If the letter were addressed to me, I would write something along the lines of the following.

    Dear Fr John Doe,

    Thank you for the letter. I appreciate your concern for me. I must however, insist that you take me out of your records. I no longer wish to be associated with your organization. Given your concern, I think it’s important that I respond and explain why.

    I understand that faith plays a very important role in your life, and in the lives of many in the community. However, I can hold little animosity for it. In a world where we increasing are coming to deeply understand our world, faith is an anchor that holds us fast to willful ignorance and religious bigotry.

    You may argue that this is not the case, and that faith in fact brings us to a deeper understanding, a communion with the all knowing. To that I can only ask: Where are the medical cures? Where the brilliant theories and applications of that infinite knowledge that can save lives? What have you to show for all this knowledge, all your rituals and sacraments? Why, through the ages has your very organization involved itself in so much violence and bloodshed?

    As a possible benefit of faith, you alluded to the comfort it can give to those dealing with the death of a loved one. Faith, surely, can provide some comfort, but we are adults now, and we must deal not what is most comforting, but with what is real. I would rather be told that my dog has died than be told he is sleeping. I would rather know the truth than hold an unjustified false hope. I would rather face death head on than deny that it truly exists. Wouldn’t you?

    As with your letter, you may like to reflect on my words or you may like to disregard them, but I feel a need to say them. You may continue to talk down to me, write pompous letters to me as if I was still an ignorant child, but I’m not. I’ve done my research, and I’ve decided I don’t want to be associated with such an organization as the Catholic Church any more. I’m no longer Catholic, and it’s simply a dishonest inflation of your membership numbers to pretend I am.

    Cordially,
    XX

     
    • paddyK

      April 3, 2010 at 4:42 pm

      Brilliant, Will! Large chunks of that are going into the final letter. Nice work.

       
  19. Will

    April 3, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Oops…I forgot to delete part of the original letter. My bad.

     
    • paddyK

      April 3, 2010 at 4:54 pm

      I don’t see it. Where?

       
  20. Will

    April 3, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    At the beginning, the first few Paragraphs…

     
  21. Heralder

    April 3, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    Hi Paddy,

    I too am in the process of defecting from the Catholic Church using the resources given at that wonderful website. I wrote to the archbishop of the diocese in which I was baptised, and got a letter (eventually) to the effect that they were sending it to the diocese in which I now live. Which seems like a totally different result than you got – they don’t know what they’re doing!
    I got a letter (eventually) from the secretary of the diocese in which I now reside saying that they would remove me from the register if I really wanted, but that if I wanted to come and talk to them they were available to me. (www.countmeout.ie had said this would happen). If they did not hear from me they would go ahead and make a note of defection on my records. I am waiting for that to happen.

     
    • paddyK

      April 3, 2010 at 10:46 pm

      Yeah, it doesn’t seem that they have a system for this yet. Hopefully they will need one soon.

       
  22. Melliferax

    April 3, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    It is very interesting to note that the priest makes no mention of any church doctrines or even the existence of God. His arguments are, as far as I can tell:

    1. An appeal to the great community you’re leaving, despite the fact that you’re not even part of it today on account of living in another country.
    2. Tempting you with a band-aid for your soul in the case of loss. As if denying death is a good way to deal with it.
    3. Trying to guilt you by reminding you it was your parents who made you a member of the church in the first place, implying they will be terribly disappointed now that you’re leaving.

    So it seems like he isn’t actually interested in getting you to believe in what the church teaches, he just wants you not to leave the organisation, even if you don’t care about it. So either he knows arguing for his faith is a lost cause, or he was never interested in saving your soul in the first place but has simply been charged with the task of trying to get people not to leave the church in these hard times.

     
    • paddyK

      April 3, 2010 at 10:47 pm

      It seems to be a private appeal. Which is funny since I never met the man and haven’t lived there for 20 years.

       
  23. Will

    April 3, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Melliferax :
    It is very interesting to note that the priest makes no mention of any church doctrines or even the existence of God. His arguments are, as far as I can tell:
    1. An appeal to the great community you’re leaving, despite the fact that you’re not even part of it today on account of living in another country.
    2. Tempting you with a band-aid for your soul in the case of loss. As if denying death is a good way to deal with it.
    3. Trying to guilt you by reminding you it was your parents who made you a member of the church in the first place, implying they will be terribly disappointed now that you’re leaving.
    So it seems like he isn’t actually interested in getting you to believe in what the church teaches, he just wants you not to leave the organisation, even if you don’t care about it. So either he knows arguing for his faith is a lost cause, or he was never interested in saving your soul in the first place but has simply been charged with the task of trying to get people not to leave the church in these hard times.

    That’s an interesting take on it…I think I agree, re-reading the letter…he does have the added emphasis on PARADISE though.:)

     
    • Melliferax

      April 3, 2010 at 5:21 pm

      That’s just Paddy having replaced the name of his parish so we won’t know where he was born…

       
      • Will

        April 3, 2010 at 5:33 pm

        Oh. I assumed that was in original.

         
  24. MichelleZB

    April 3, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    Don’t waste too much of your time with this guy. Write him something like,

    Dear Priest,

    I have received your letter, but I’m afraid that I really do want to be removed from your church’s register. I do not wish to have my name associated in any way with your organization. Please do as I have formally requested.

    Sincerely,

    Yourname

     
    • paddyK

      April 3, 2010 at 10:45 pm

      I will be civil. The letter I will write to the local newspaper, however, will NOT be so civil…

       
  25. pmac

    April 3, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    I have been an athiest/agnostic since a very young age. Yet the advice I want to give you regarding your reply to the priest is “Be a good Christian”.
    The parish priest, though mistaken about the existence of a deity, is undoubtedly a good man (at least we should presume he is until there is evidence to the contrary). He has taken the time to write you a personal letter (though that is probably a part of his job) giving his reasons why he thinks you should reconsider. You should of course write him back explaining, if you like, the reasons for your decision. But the priest’s efforts should not be used as a chance to rake him over the coals, or crucify him, or even talk about his organization as a cesspit. He, like you, has probably heard all the standard arguments for/against theism and is not going to be quickly swayed by anything you say. So be positive and pleasant – show him that athiests can be moral/civil people.

     
    • paddyK

      April 3, 2010 at 10:43 pm

      It’s an option. I do plan to be civil, but there are some things that must be said. Anyway, he started it. *folds arms and frowns*

       
  26. Arancaytar

    April 3, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    It’s just lovely to see the transparent attempt at guilt-tripping you via your parents.

    “your parents XY and XX desired that you would be welcomed into the church. Like all the other gifts they gave you as a child they wanted you to have the great gift of faith. That gift was bestowed on them on the day they were baptised. It was a privilege for them to share the gift with their child”

    After all, Guilt is the profession of the Church.

     
    • paddyK

      April 3, 2010 at 10:41 pm

      Guilt was ever-present as I grew up, a horrible thing for a child to have to think about. Bastard priests.

       
  27. Shirakawasuna

    April 3, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    His letter is one idiotic guilt trip. As for those asking you to be nice, ignore them. The priest is not doing a nice thing, he is being extremely condescending (you already applied to leave, you didn’t ask for a sermon) and is trying to guilt you into staying in the church. A short version of the letter: please stay with us, child, so you won’t miss important family moments, lose hope in the face of death, lose membership in a community, and disappoint your parents (invoked by name, no less).

    Personally, I probably wouldn’t attack the church outside of his personal letter to you being a good example of why you’d be leaving. That way, the message becomes clear: what he’s doing is condescending and deceitful.

     
    • paddyK

      April 3, 2010 at 10:40 pm

      Guilt is the last refuge of a scoundrel (or a Catholic).

       
  28. William

    April 3, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    Losing faith is one step on the path to enlightenment, another is to embrace compassion.

    If a letter must be written let your compassion demonstrate your enlightenment. It may help the priest to become enlightened himself.

    p.s.: nice letter Will.

     
    • paddyK

      April 3, 2010 at 10:39 pm

      True. Still will give him an earful about his influence on the school kids though.

       
  29. H.H.

    April 3, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    Just tell him that you’re dead broke and can’t tithe any money. You won’t hear from him again.

     
  30. Hugo

    April 3, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    I wrote my letter a while ago too (my letter was quite elaborate and cited recent events and websites) I got a similar “it cannot be undone” response but without the personal priest stuff, I guess Belgian priests do not want a debate. My letter did say at the end that I could have insight into the data held about me (a Belgian law requires this for any personal data any organization holds)
    I think the register has already been changed for you, but do reply to demand a straight answer and I hope to read your reply (and hopefully an answer, could be fun)

     
    • paddyK

      April 3, 2010 at 10:37 pm

      Well I plan to at least get a confirmation. I doubt they want a discussion though.

       
  31. madcap_freedom

    April 3, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    I’d say just to write him exactly what you stated here in this post:

    May this “little priest’s eyes will be burned from his self-righteous head by a truly scorching analysis of his bag of sickening clichés, his idiotic and laughable “beliefs” and his despotic, parasitical and thoroughly nasty church.

    In fact, this is a golden opportunity, to be able to dissect the best arguments of a Catholic priest, line by flabby line, and let him know precisely what reasoning people think of his stinking cesspit of an organisation.

    It is precise and exact to the point you want to make…

    madcap

     
  32. souper genyus

    April 4, 2010 at 12:00 am

    Since they were kind words, I’d basically just write back saying, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Restate that you want to leave the Church and your reasons for doing so, and then kindly ask that he not waste his time with further correspondence unless it’s to inform you that you’ve been removed from the registry.

     
  33. ulrichschreglmann

    April 4, 2010 at 2:18 am

    It’s funny how the word “fearing” generally holds negative connota-
    tions of helplessness and victimhood or danger and aggression (de-
    pending on whether you’re the person feeling the fear or the one in-
    stilling it).

    But add the word “God-” and it suddenly turns into a virtue and both
    the fearer and the fearee into an all-around good individual.

    Religion has established the Stockholm syndrome thousands of years
    before there even was a city of Stockholm…

    http://ulrichschreglmann.wordpress.com/

     
  34. Stavros

    April 4, 2010 at 5:05 am

    Here is how your reply should go:

    Dear Fr John Doe,

    Fuck You.
    Strongly worded letter to follow.

     
    • Bellis

      April 6, 2010 at 2:22 am

      Jiá sou, Stavro!

      Eise éllinas, esí? Kai ego, vre. Me léne Andreas Bellis.

      Ta léme,
      Bellis

       
  35. Stavros

    April 4, 2010 at 5:06 am

    forgot the close.

    Sincerely yours,

    Stavros.

     
  36. Deb

    April 4, 2010 at 7:42 am

    My thoughts to the priest re funerals: it is not that hope is lost but that a well-loved human being has passed from our lives. Grieving is not only natural but a sign of caring, long and well. Just in my opinion.

     
  37. Sean Mulroy

    April 4, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Just helped my 70 year old Mother in law send off her defection form last night and she’s hoping the bishop asks to speak to her. She’s been known to reduce adults to tears!
    Go for it Paddy. Nail him but be POLITE. NO RANTING!!!!!!!!!
    A while back someone said to leave it be, that its not worth the effort. I disagree. Thats the sort of attitude that has prevailed in Ireland for too long and has attributed to the forelock tugging society we have had here for so very long.

     
  38. Raiko

    April 4, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    I am *so appalled* by that arrogance of thinking that despite all the things the Catholic church has done, it is a unique place to find that warm, fuzzy feeling of hope and happiness. The arrogance of thinking it’s the only way to feel that good would be enough, but we’re talking about the RCC, for f**k’s sake – one of the most dirty, disgusting and power-hungry organizations on the planet!!!

     
  39. James Butler

    April 4, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Well, here’s my input…

    You and I are probably similar in outlook. Nerdy boy, leaves sticks, gets degree, fiddles with pooters (and self!), assumes he has seen, done and knows it all. Makes terminal judgement.

    Now, I would jump at the chance of leaving the church. Indeed, I sort of left it at the age of 16. On the first Sunday after turning 16, my parents performed the usual observance ie. dragging me out of bed and driving me to mass.

    However, this time I said, “No, I am 16. I do what I like from now on.” My parents wouldn’t listen and I was dragged out of bed again. So, I got dressed and walked out the door, past the car and out into the countryside.

    I walked amongst the green that makes you and I feel a lot better when we have been stuck amongst the concrete grey for too long. When all possible morning mass times had been exhausted I walked home.

    The following week, bugger me, the same routine. When would they get the message? Again, up the road I went. This time I wasn’t in need of any green so I just sat in a disused field, next to a hospital, until a few hours later when my sister and father discovered me. I was never rudely awoken on Sunday morning again.

    I have only been back to a church service twice, when my sister died. However, I seem always to be in and out of churches. I like the peace. I even light a few candles, it is a pagan act as far as I am concerned. I’ve even walked barefoot up Croagh Patrick a few times. Again, pagan acts. Easter, Christmas, All Hallows, Wren Day, you name it, it’s pagan so I can do the wave/particle duality of being a pagano-catholic with my eyes shut.

    The reason why I don’t hand in my card is because I don’t want Mr Paisley and his mob to wring their hands with glee. After all, a protestant is just an atheist who is too ashamed to admit it. Declaring yourself Church of X or Anglican is just a way of saying, “Sure, I’m a Christian, now get out of my face and let me continue sleeping through Sunday morning.” A cop out.

    And to be honest, I did like John Paul II an awful lot. Every now and again the old church produces good people. Well, JP2 and Mother Teresa to be precise. Oh and Sister Agnes Aloysius who came to visit every summer and gave me a wholesale box of Club biscuits to work my way through. I have the fillings to prove it.

    Yes, the current Hitler Jugend is rather nondescript and a few of the old fathers like to bury their cocks where they shouldn’t but hey! who wouldn’t… errr… anyway.

    Then there is the science. Yes, we both lapped it up at school. Tried to reconcile it with what the Father was saying. Fell on the side of science because Star Trek was great and yet… ultimately, our science explains nothing. No reason why. No how it all started. I mean at the very very very beginning and afore that. Everything really was created, one way or another.

    One less catholic means the muzzies are one up on us. Nature hates a vacuum. It’s like a big club. Whose side are you on? Divided and conquered. The last days of Rome. I’d rather be a member of a club that I don’t quite see eye to eye with rather than one that would drag me out of bed five times a day, every freaking day of the week. “But James, you are mad, that is never going to happen.” We are in a new era. Things are changing rapidly.

    So, no, I wouldn’t hand in my cards. We may need them quite soon.

     
    • paddyK

      April 4, 2010 at 12:53 pm

      Catholic is the lesser of two evils eh James..? And come on its a completely daft comparison – “a Protestant is just an atheist who is too ashamed to admit it”. That’s out choice then, two kinds of Christianity? Give it a rest.

      Well maybe it IS that “science explains nothing”, although it depends what you mean as “something” and “nothing” in that context. But then again science KNOWS that it doesn’t explain everything, and therefore it is always changing, unlike religion which offers pre-masticated “truth”. There is no “absolute truth” in science, only a admission that we think we know this and that, but can never be totally sure.

      And you can’t compare religion to science as if it’s a “this or that” choice. It’s like comparing dog-breeding to game theory, totally different universes.

      And please, DON’T portray Catholicism as some kind of defence against Islam. Christian and Muslim thinking have lots in common, its just the magic book and the bosses that have changed. I dislike Islam too, in fact more than Christianity, as it’s clearly more misogynistic and anti-reason. But there are far better ways to fight ignorance that with another kind of ignorance.

       
    • paddyK

      April 4, 2010 at 12:55 pm

      Although, if the Muslims DO take over, I’ll be the first one to buy a Koran, since mumbling to a non-existent deity is fine with me if it keeps me alive.

       
      • James Butler

        April 4, 2010 at 1:01 pm

        And back to square one.

         
  40. OurSally

    April 4, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    >Faith is calling you and I

    You could correct his grammar while you’re at it.

     
  41. former catholic

    April 4, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    Former Catholic here….I didn’t find the priests letter that incredible. One last ditch effort is about how I’d describe it.

    You’re leaving a club and one of the club organizers is trying to get you stay…

     
    • paddyK

      April 5, 2010 at 12:11 pm

      You’ve think he’s have a form letter ready by now. Hopefully he will need some soon.

       
  42. blackwatertown

    April 4, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Ah sure don’t be cruel to the poor aul’ priest who’s only trying to do the right thing as he sees it. He may not be one of the worst ones. (And bad ones there most certainly are.)
    Looking forward though to seeing what you do write to him. As someone who has volunteered to represent the organisation, he shouldn’t complain if he gets some feedback.

     
    • paddyK

      April 5, 2010 at 12:13 pm

      Feedback will be provided. Hopefully I will raise an eyebrow.

       
  43. rijkswaanvijand

    April 4, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Bellis,

    It’s possible to do a mistake..
    It involves getting real drunk, ending up in bed with someone you sure as hell wouldn’t be “doing” were you not as poisoned by that damned blood of christ.
    Most mistakes are made though

     
  44. Sarah

    April 4, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    I don’t think what he wrote was THAT bad. At least he didn’t threaten you with hellfire and damnation. I know the reply can be irritating to you, since you are certain you want to leave the church, but my guess is that’s what he was told to do with requests like yours.

    His letter was pretty polite, so I think you should send him a polite but firm reply, thanking him for his concern but reiterating you desire to leave. You might impress him and help show him that all of us non-believers are perfectly good people, too. ;)

     
    • Will

      April 4, 2010 at 7:40 pm

      Agreed. I think he should address some points on the way out though. He needs to tell the priest that he has his reasons for leaving, and that he’s not in some sort of “teenage rebellion stage”. I think the best way to do this is to be polite, but at the same time paddy shouldn’t pull his punches. There are some points the priest brought into play that need to be addressed. If they aren’t, it’ll look like he’s avoiding the issue, and that will just reinforce preconceptions the priest is likely to have.

       
      • paddyK

        April 5, 2010 at 12:14 pm

        On a personal lever, I will be very polite. But the thing he represents will get what is coming to it.

         
    • Melliferax

      April 4, 2010 at 8:41 pm

      It might not be rude, but this guy did go through the effort of looking Paddy up, finding out who his parents were, and then proceeds to guilt him about them. Personally I’d say that at the very least qualifies as slightly creepy.

       
  45. Brian Schmidt

    April 4, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    According to my reading of Paddy’s links, the priest doesn’t have the right to engage Paddy in dialog before agreeing to change the register. Accordingly, I suggest not arguing at all in the initial response – instead, simply point to canon law and politely request removal. You can feel free to say you will consider a more extensive reply after this has been done.

    In general I’d agree with others here that being polite, kind even, to this man will win more points in the overall debate than being combative.

     
    • paddyK

      April 5, 2010 at 12:15 pm

      Politeness there will be. I am not attacking the man, but the arguments.

       
  46. Learnenlife

    April 4, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    What about faith? If they are all not of sin, then why don’t they ever talk about faith? They say they do, but Obama has used it more than the Vatican. They talk about hope, not faith. This religion has passed down its guilt and convictions of others since…since they killed Christ. Why does this church point their fingers at everyone else, like Lemmings; every word and sanctimonious witch craft is obeyed. Why are we the sinners? Who is a man to sit behind a shroud and tell me that I should be ashamed of myself for lying to my mother, when he is finding arousal in my whispers? Why did Ted Haggar have to get on television and embarass himself and his family because he is gay but trying to live the straight life as not to upset anyone?

    How does a church carry secrets and ask for our confessions? How does a church lead a community of believers for 2000 years through wars and poverty and they live in a house of gold?

    So in closing Father, I too received your letter. Your rhetoric and practiced speech for job security is a little humbling. even for a Catholic Priest in todays media driven world. I am not sure how you (when I say you, please note that it is not entirely directed at you but more of your “employer” and your lack of devotion to your vows) could judge or be given some divine authority to speak for God. But in addition and with more dismay, I can’t believe that you are listening to what he is saying because your wrong, in so many ways.

    Your letter in short, and to be kind, reminded me of hearing the specials at the local drive up window. How are you to tell me of my faith, when you cannot speak anything of your own though you opened with it. I recently bought a $1200 vacumn from a fast talking salesmen, you didn’t even have that amount of passion.

    Perhaps your organization may want to reconsider your new $70 million marketing plan to bring youth into your churches, you may get what you asked for…but this generation comes with voices.

     
    • paddyK

      April 5, 2010 at 12:16 pm

      I’m not sure I can count myself as “this generation” but your comments are appreciated!

       
  47. Scott

    April 5, 2010 at 1:38 am

    Hello, I just discovered this site thanks to a link from Pharyngula. I am an Australian atheist and ex-catholic. I was just wondering if such processes apply in Australia? They record your religeon on the census here, but I wasn’t aware of church records of who was catholic. There are birth certificates etc, but those are at a government registrar’s office. Does anyone know if this matters in Australia?

    Keep up the good work. From my own experiences as a token youth in a Diocesan pastoral council here in the early 1990s, the Catholic Church is indeed rotten at the top. They are not all evil, but there are a lot of weak people in positions of power too cowardly to stop evil. The institutional structures keep it that way.

     
    • paddyK

      April 5, 2010 at 12:17 pm

      Mail the people who run that site, they will be able to help you. Good luck!

       
  48. kokopelli

    April 5, 2010 at 11:32 am

    Faith may be a gift (?) but it is not a gift that can be given to people by their parents by getting their kids baptised; what they give their kids is a club membership from birth. Which can be cancelled if the kids are not that interested in the club. And that’s that.
    I wonder why I never got a handwritten letter asking me to reconsider when I “defected” from the church.Didn’t they want me as a member anyway? Should I be slightly miffed?

     
    • paddyK

      April 5, 2010 at 12:17 pm

      Yes, you should be miffed. Write and demand your own begging letter now!

       
      • kokopelli

        April 5, 2010 at 6:20 pm

        “To whom it may concern…Why is paddyK more worth saving than I am???? *sulk” Oh well, when did they finally (and grumpily) concede that women have souls, too?
        Maybe it’s all part of a “save worthier male souls first” policy.
        :-)

         
  49. Doubting Thomas

    April 5, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    I appreciate your activism but I don’t think it’s very effective. As a ‘retired’ Catholic it’s clear to me that as long as the ‘faithful’ keep putting money in the collection basket the ‘machine’ will continue to operate.

    Secondly, I’m no fan of bullying and I had great Priests in my life as a boy. (Yes, lucky me). I know there are many great Priests out there, but sending a nasty letter to one will change nothing.

    It did however get you a few comments and that is certainly a bloggers goal.

     
    • paddyK

      April 5, 2010 at 5:15 pm

      Have you perhaps READ some of the previous comments where I mention every five inches or so that I do NOT plan to bully and/or insult the priest? Because I have also known some nice priests (or, should I say, nice PEOPLE who happened to be priests).

      And getting comments isn’t a bloggers goal; getting hits is!

       
  50. JP

    April 5, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    It may have seemed patronizing, but go easy on him. He means well enough. Sure, point out exactly why you disagree with him but please be civil.

     
  51. Rolf

    April 5, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    paddyK :
    Have you perhaps READ some of the previous comments where I mention every five inches or so that I do NOT plan to bully and/or insult the priest?

    Hmm… Like: “the little priest’s eyes will be burned from his self-righteous head by a truly scorching [*BEEP*]”
    “We got the priest in our sights. Now take a deep breath, squeeze that rhetorical trigger and let’s go get him!”
    “Too short and kind. I aim to make this fellow squirm.”

    But of course, we might have misunderstood you. :-)

    cheers/Rolf

     
    • paddyK

      April 5, 2010 at 9:43 pm

      Rolf: That was old me. I was bad then. Now I’m good me. Love to all.

       
  52. Rolf

    April 5, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    paddyK :
    Rolf: That was old me. I was bad then. Now I’m good me. Love to all.

    We Believe in the New Paddy. We also believe in His Goodness and omnidirectional Love, as in Ireland, so also in Stockholm and on the Web. May God save us all.

    :-)

    cheers/Rolf

     
  53. Rolf

    April 5, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    Hmm. Who wrote the comment about signing away the children. I can’t find it when I need it. :-)

    I’ve read a lot of ghost stories about parents signing away their children to the Devil (or corresponding otherworldly nasties), often without even telling the little toddlers about it. It strikes me as more of the same, signing away little kids to God by baptizing them. Is there really such a big difference, especially since almost all religions hold that *their* God is the right God and the others are only idols?

    (Please note, this is not necessarily an argument for atheism, since there are christian movements that hold that you should be baptized only as a grownup.)

    cheers/Rolf

     
  54. Bellis

    April 6, 2010 at 2:34 am

    rijkswaanvijand :
    Bellis,
    It’s possible to do a mistake..
    It involves getting real drunk, ending up in bed with someone you sure as hell wouldn’t be “doing” were you not as poisoned by that damned blood of christ.
    Most mistakes are made though

    I fail to get your point. But let me just state very clearly that if I have in any way made the impression that I am anti-abortion, then I’ve not made myself clear at all. When I call people from the various groups I mention non-people, I am being sarcastic, by looking at them through the eyes of most Catholics. I, however, am an atheist, and do not look at anyone that way. I go with the UN declaration of human rights.

    All the best,
    Bellis

     
  55. Bellis

    April 6, 2010 at 2:36 am

    Bellis :

    rijkswaanvijand :
    Bellis,
    It’s possible to do a mistake..
    It involves getting real drunk, ending up in bed with someone you sure as hell wouldn’t be “doing” were you not as poisoned by that damned blood of christ.
    Most mistakes are made though

    I fail to get your point. But let me just state very clearly that if I have in any way made the impression that I am anti-abortion, then I’ve not made myself clear at all. When I call people from the various groups I mention non-people, I am being sarcastic, by looking at them through the eyes of most Catholics. I, however, am an atheist, and do not look at anyone that way. I go with the UN declaration of human rights.
    All the best,
    Bellis

    Bellis :

    rijkswaanvijand :
    Bellis,
    It’s possible to do a mistake..
    It involves getting real drunk, ending up in bed with someone you sure as hell wouldn’t be “doing” were you not as poisoned by that damned blood of christ.
    Most mistakes are made though

    I fail to get your point. But let me just state very clearly that if I have in any way made the impression that I am anti-abortion, then I’ve not made myself clear at all. When I call people from the various groups I mention non-people, I am being sarcastic, by looking at them through the eyes of most Catholics. I, however, am an atheist, and do not look at anyone that way. I go with the UN declaration of human rights.
    All the best,
    Bellis

    An NOW I get what you mean. Sorry about that. I failed to realize that you were answering my question as to usage. I thought you were replying to what I wrote about Catholicism.

    Thank you for telling me and all the best,
    Bellis

     
  56. csrster

    April 6, 2010 at 8:34 am

    You think you have it bad Paddy? I’m Jewish. We _can’t_ leave. The concept “ex-Jew” just doesn’t exist in Judaism.

     
    • paddyK

      April 6, 2010 at 8:44 am

      That sucks, it must be admitted. Can’t you convert to Catholicism and then leave..?

       
      • csrster

        April 7, 2010 at 8:40 am

        You mean convert to Catholicism just for the pleasure of apostasy? It’s an interesting idea.

         
  57. Cormac

    April 6, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Hey Paddy,

    I’m Cormac, one of the people behind CountMeOut.ie.

    Just to give you some background for the letter you were sent, its quite normal to receive correspondance from the Church during the defection process (more typically from the Diocese-level rather than the parish, though both do happen).

    Personally, I can’t imagine why the letter left you “speechless”! Its polite to the point of banality and simply repeats beliefs and positions that are unsurprising for a priest to hold.

    All the letters received so-far by users of the site have been as civil as the one you were sent, and we’ve advised people that, if they wish to respond, they should probably do so in the same manner (though obviously its up to them). The Church often suggests an optional meeting too, which is perhaps a better venue for a wider discussion, in my view.

    In any case, I’m glad you found the site useful! I hope the rest of the defection process goes smoothly; let us know how you get on, and send us any responses you get, if you have access to a scanner (we’ll blank out all personal details).

    Regards,

    Cormac
    ————————–

    http://www.countmeout.ie/

     
    • paddyK

      April 6, 2010 at 6:38 pm

      The “speechless” part was the attempt to guilt me out by mentioning my parents and throwing a pile of tired clichés at me. I was shocked that people actually still think like this. I guess living in secular Sweden for so long has caused me to forget how it is in Ireland.

      But yes, I do intend to be polite. There is noting to be gained by shouting at a priest. As fun as it may be.

       
  58. DrDan

    April 6, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    Over the last few years, I’ve completely lost the radical edge to my athiesm, and I’ve tried to develop a different tack in response to this sort of thing. You won’t influence the priest in any way by engaging him on a point by point basis, and, in reality, you will be writing the letter for your own benefit (or possibly our benefit, I can’t deny it would be entertaining to read!)

    My advice is simply to write a polite letter pointing out that, while you are happy that his faith provides him with such comfort, that he is simply missing the point – you simply do not believe in the existence of god, and your belief in this truth is as unshakeable as his belief in god. You could add that you are living a happy and fulfilled life in this belief, and that, indeed this fulfilmment largely began when you accepted that god did not exist. Keep the letter low key and polite, but very firm – the only points worth making are that your belief is as firm as his, and that you are very content. Recent personal experience has shown that this more considered and conservative approach actually has more effect in conveying ones opinion to the faithful than the more spirited and combatorial approach advocated by many of the folks responding to your post.

     
    • paddyK

      April 6, 2010 at 8:02 pm

      That’s largely what I will write, with two alterations: I will in no place use the word “belief”; and I will say some other stuff which I will keep secret for now in order to lure some readers back.

      Yes, I am a blog whore, the original Whore of Bloggylon.

       
  59. Bellis

    April 6, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    Considering this whole thing, I think that us Swedish Protestants/Greek Orthodox (I was born both, having a Greek father and a Swedish mother), have it a lot easier than Irish Catholics, not to mention Jews, as I can see a few comments higher up.

    Anyway, since my parents are both what used to be called freethinkers –

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freethought

    – I was never baptized as a baby (since that would have robbed me of the opportunity to make the decision myself) and I never went to confirmation, applauded by my parents when I myself decided not to. (On top of which my mother used to tell her friends of my frequent bouts, as an eleven year old kid, with the Jehova’s Witnesses, when they came knocking at our door – they were brandishing the Bible, I was brandishing On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection).

    However, having been born in Sweden, I was still automatically registered by the Protestant church as belonging to that lot, in spite of not being baptized, since the church was at that time a part of the state (is that they right way to express it in English…?). On separation of church and state, we citizens were all of a sudden free to leave the church, which I proceeded to do.

    The process was very simple. I filled in a form, I went to the office of my parish church, spoke to two nice, elderly ladies to whom I handed in the form, and got a friend of mine from school, who happened to be working there, to witness my application to leave the congregation (it turned out you needed a witness, and I thought it quite nifty to have an old friend who was actually working for the church signing my form – which he happily did, by the way, in spite of being a Christian himself).

    After that, I was no longer a member of the Swedish Protestant church.

    I have never been a member of the Greek Orthodox, since they weren’t aware of me being born in Sweden. So with them I have no personal problems.

    Drive a hard,
    Bellis

     
  60. paddyK

    April 7, 2010 at 9:49 am

    This tree is far too convoluted… so I will reply to ladyFi’s comment here:

    “If people want to believe in Santa, the Tooth fairy, unicorns or god.. let them! What’s so wrong with people having something to believe in – even if they don’t exist? Not everyone can be rational or logical— which, in itself, is some kind of belief system.”

    Everybody is free to believe whatever delusions they want in the privacy of their own heads–I have said this often. BUT if people go about talking about their delusions as if they were real, or raise their children based on these delusions, or try and force morals or ANYTHING ELSE on us based on these delusions, then they need to back them up with evidence, otherwise they should shut the hell up. Inside your own head, go for it; but outside your own head, in the real world, you require proof to get people to believe you, and not just magic books and anecdotes and constant groundless requests for “respect”.

    Making assertions without proof leads to all kinds of horrible abuses. Do you want me to list them here?

    And being rational or logical is SO far from a belief system than it is possible to get. It is in fact the exact OPPOSITE of a belief system. And do you know why? Because it allows you to change your mind about things if there is a good reason to. Faith DOESN’T – that is the very definition of faith! In what way, pray tell, are these too outlooks similar? Science is NOT a faith either; saying so shows a total lack of understanding in how science works. Again: how is reason like a belief system? Tell me please!

    Excuse long ranting reply, but this topic always gets me riled up…

     
    • JP

      April 7, 2010 at 7:52 pm

      I agree with you mostly except that people have the right to raise their children as they see fit, even if that includes what you consider deluding them. To them, it’s truth, even if others don’t see it that way. They, of course, can’t dictate what their kids are taught in public schools without accepting some compromise between themselves and people with different view points but having a hand in how people raise their own children is meddling in private affairs.

       
      • Stuart

        April 8, 2010 at 11:18 pm

        What about the rights of the child? As Richard Dawkins says if the parents vote for a particular political party because they believe in it, does that give them the right to make their children become members of that party shortly after birth?

        Religions (all of them) consider it very important, if not essential, to capture new members as young as possible so as to brainwash them into believing the ‘one true faith’.
        Children have the right to be brought up in a way that they can make their own choices when they are mature enough to do so.

         
  61. Sean Mulroy

    April 7, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Basically if religion had the same status as any other life style choice folk wouldnt have an issue with it. I dont give a toss about football, fly fishing, cake sales or trainspotting but I can live with these interests. They dont insist that my Govt makes provisions for them in legistlation, schooling etc. Religion on the other hand……….

     
    • paddyK

      April 7, 2010 at 7:40 pm

      I think you’ll find that football DOES enjoy a few juicy tax breaks and special status…

       
  62. paddyK

    April 9, 2010 at 6:25 am

    Stuart: A great point, and I will remember it, since the religioners bring that up time and time again. And the counter-argument “because you are saving the babies soul” doesn’t hold water either.

     
  63. JP

    April 9, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    What about the rights of the child, Stuart? Actually, yes, the parents of a child do have a right to raise that child as they see fit. Otherwise, who can force them to care for it? In a free society, you are entitled to pass on to your children what you consider true, even if it isn’t. In the same breath I would mention that the parents of a child can make their child a member of a political party just as they would have their child join boy scouts or any other club. It’s a question of good parenting whether the child actually wants to do those things.

     
    • paddyK

      April 12, 2010 at 9:42 am

      No JP, you are entitled to pass on what you can PROVE to be true, what you can REASON to be true. Making a child grow up with fear and guilt just because you believe something is child abuse, pure and simple.

       
      • JP

        April 21, 2010 at 10:19 pm

        Well, paddyK, who would we make the arbiter of what is true and untrue? Would we have a government sanctioned office to interview people on their child rearing? I would rather have some people indoctrinating their children to their own misconceptions than have someone else intruding into me teaching my children what I believe is true. Even though some people believe patently false things, among people you might think have a reasonable grasp of reality, there is still much disagreement as to what is true and what isn’t. Even then, it doesn’t account for things that are neither true nor untrue, like art. I reiterate, just how and when would we verify what is true and ok for people to teach their kids?

         
  64. Bellis

    April 9, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    Paddy K:

    “And being rational or logical is SO far from a belief system than it is possible to get. It is in fact the exact OPPOSITE of a belief system. And do you know why? Because it allows you to change your mind about things if there is a good reason to. Faith DOESN’T – that is the very definition of faith! In what way, pray tell, are these too outlooks similar? Science is NOT a faith either; saying so shows a total lack of understanding in how science works. Again: how is reason like a belief system? Tell me please!”

    Well, there is actually an amount of belief when it comes to science as well. On the more or less axiomatic level. For one thing, you can’t actually *prove* the axioms of logic – they have to be flat out accepted. Because to prove them would entail some other a priori system with which to prove them, and then you would have to believe in the axioms of that system. And so forth. Russell and Whitehead tried to prove the axioms of mathematics using logic. They failed, although their attempt was truly impressive (to be found in their Principia Mathematica (and no, I don’t understand that enormous book)).

    Also, there is David Hume’s problem of induction. You know, the way to prove something, on the very basic level, in natural science is to make repeated experiments and constantly get the same result. But how can we be certain, without making experiment number 1001, that it would actually have the same result as the previous 1000? The answer to that one is that in every other known instance, whenever there was an inquiry into something requiring repeated experiments, instance number 1001 did indeed turn out as the previous 1000.

    And thus the argument becomes circular. One is begging the question. One is using induction to prove induction, which is presupposing that what one seeks to prove is indeed true.

    But having said that (and I do it very sketchily here, just to sort of point it out), one could use common bloody sense and actually, like Russell happily did as time went by, just accept the method of induction, for example, as working. Because very simply put, it does. It does yield results. Even if it can not be proven to be philosophically valid, on the common sense level of everyday life, where we need to cure diseases, go to the Moon, construct bridges and computers, and what have you, it simply does work.

    Trying to achieve the same things through prayers to God, on the other hand, have invariably, in every inductive instance, failed.

    So even though there is an amount of philosophical belief involved in the scientific method, the rational way to go about things is to go with what works instead of what doesn’t.

    All the best,
    Bellis

     
    • paddyK

      April 12, 2010 at 9:39 am

      Well if I accept something in Science for the moment I can always go back if needed and track down the proof. It’s all public knowledge. In religion it isn’t–you accept with no proof (or bad proof) and no chance to look it up if you need to.

       
  65. Bellis

    April 10, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    Oh, this is rich. This is so rich.

    I just heard on the BBC News (yeah, Paddy, I occasionally watch the news – see here what you miss! :-) ) that they are now showing off the Turin shroud somewhere or other, and the BBC gave their viewers a bit of background.

    Some years back, the shroud was radiocarbon dated and found to stem from the fourteenth century, which makes it rather unlikely that it was the shroud worn by Jesus when he was crucified.

    Rather unlikely even if you happen to be a Christian, that is.

    Or so one would think.

    BBC proceeded to interview a woman who was somehow connected to the event where they will now publicly show off the shroud, and she had the following to say:

    “Yes, scientifically speaking the shroud was made in the fourteenth century, that’s a proven fact. It was. But whether Jesus wore it when he was crucified is a question of faith that belongs to the sphere not of science, but of religion.”

    Yes. Well, but of course.

    And by the way, war is peace. And freedom is slavery.

    And above all, ignorance is strength.

    Drive a hard,
    Bellis

     
    • paddyK

      April 12, 2010 at 9:40 am

      Yes, that is a wonderful quote. But Jesus COULD travel through time, being the son of God, so hey, it makes perfect sense.

       
  66. Bellis

    April 15, 2010 at 2:41 am

    I was just now reminded of the real low-down on this God business, while listening to Tom Waits.

    I think Tom Waits has it just about right in his song “Heart Attack and Wine”, metaphorically speaking.

    I remember using this line on a gang of born again Christians coming all the way from America trying to convert me (and others) on Västerlånggatan in Gamla Stan in Stockholm in my youth, once when I was sitting at the pub Old Town in summer, just inside the large, open windows. I raised my beer at them, did the heavy metal-sign with my other hand, and quoted Tom Waits:

    “Don’t you know there ain’t no Devil, there’s just God when he’s drunk.”

    The effect was quite astonishing. They looked at me, sort of horror-stricken, and then, firmly pressing their Bibles to their chests, did the sign of the cross … and actually looked at bit pensive. After which they promptly ran away. But that looking pensive-part is what really got me.

    I had another beer.

    All the best,
    Bellis

    P.S.

    By the way, should any of you like to hear this brilliant song, here it is (and now I’m posting a link that is not to be found in Paddy’s blog-roll):

    D.S.

     
  67. Wynn

    April 21, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    How the heck could I have missed this post? Gosh.

     
    • paddyK

      April 21, 2010 at 10:30 pm

      Yeah, it’s pretty amazing.

       
  68. Bellis

    April 23, 2010 at 6:06 am

    ladyfi :
    Definitely not Irish Catholics! Yorkshire ones… So much for jumping to conclusions? ;-)
    I’m an agnostic myself, but I find it difficult to understand why helping someone in the name of God is any less of a good deed than helping someone because you feel you want to or ought to…

    Not less of a good deed as such, but a selfish one. If you do good deeds under threat of going to hell if you refrain from doing them, I personally don’t find that as nice as doing good deeds simply out of the goodness of your yeart. A good deed should not seek its own reward.

    Also please note what I wrote about most Catholics failing to do the same good deeds for fellow human beings who happen to be gay, Protestants, what have you.

    All the best,
    Bellis

     
  69. Pingback: » Débaptisés
  70. david

    October 27, 2011 at 3:12 am

    Wow..this priest sounds genuinely caring and was considerate enough to write you a reply. He doesn’t even volley any criticism at your decision, and yet you insult his faith and postit on a site to help people criticize himm in return?
    i hope you come up with the most well-though out, invective and pernicious reply in your powers to create and take pride in it.
    By the way, Catholics are not Catholics if they do not practise their faith. People who claim to be Catholic, but do not attend holy days of obligation or attend Church once are twice a year may claim they are Catholic, but they most certainly are not. Part of Catholic belief is fulfillment of the weekly Sunday obligation; therefore, by not holding fast to this particular doctrine, one cannot consider themself a Catholic. Those who think they can miss Mass and then return next week and recieve Christ in the Eucharist commit a grave, mortal sin.

    I suggest you get your facts straight before you make such ludicrous assumptions based on nothing other than your own pitiful ignorance of Catholic Tradition and teaching.

     
    • paddyK

      November 4, 2011 at 10:46 am

      David: I agree, a Catholic is not a “real” Catholic if they do not practice their faith. So why do they still appear in the Catholic statistics? Take away the non-practicing Catholics and your group will be exposed for what it is – a fringe minority of disturbed people who believe in magic.

      This is clearly revealed in your comment:

      “Those who think they can miss Mass and then return next week and recieve Christ in the Eucharist commit a grave, mortal sin.”

      A mortal sin? Says who? You? What is a sin? What is prayer? Magic, that’s what is is. Magic by another name is still magic.

      So don’t you talk to me about “facts” when your whole argument is built on “faith” which is the precise opposite of facts. Facts have nothing whatsoever to do with Catholicism. Okay?

       
      • bingo

        November 4, 2011 at 5:29 pm

        Troll-like typing detected.

         

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 87 other followers

%d bloggers like this: