September 27, 2010

Reverend Richard G. Lennon
Bishop of Cleveland
Cleveland Diocese
1027 Superior Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44114-2560

Dear Reverend Lennon,

I am hereby formally defecting from the Catholic Church and request an execution of the Actus Formalis Defectionis Ab Ecclesia Catholica for myself to begin this process in accordance with canons 1086, 1117 and 1174 of the Code of Canon law as well as notification Prot. N. 10279/2006 from the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts (PCLT).

This request is being made by me personally, freely and consciously in order to sever all bonds of Catholic communion—faith, sacraments, and pastoral governance. This process shall be configured as my true separation from the constitutive elements of the life of the Church as a willful act of apostasy of my part.

I am providing herein all necessary information with an explanation for my decision.

I was born on June 1, 1973 in Bedford Hospital. I attended St. Gregory the Great grade school from grades one through eight (years 1978 through 1987) and additionally attended Benedictine High School for grades nine and ten (years 1987 through 1989). I am not in possession of any official church documents but the parish records that are at the new Sacred Heart of Jesus parish should indicate the exact date of my sacraments: baptism (late spring/early summer 1973), first communion (spring 1980) and confirmation (spring 1987).

I have chosen to leave the Catholic Church for a number of reasons:

  • I do not consider myself religious — and in fact consider religion detrimental to the overall well-being of humanity.
  • I vehemently disagree with the Church behavior with regard to several distinct areas:
    • The Pope’s dangerous comments about AIDS and condom usage
    • The treatment of women in the church
  • I am shocked by the complete lack of remorse shown by the church relating to the sex abuse scandal.

While I respect the teachings of Jesus and hold him in very high esteem, I feel the teachings of the Church are a perversion of his original intent. The teachings of Jesus were that of love — unconditional love; the teachings of the Catholic Church, and most organized religions in fact, center mainly around hate of those that are not like you.

I have not considered myself Catholic for at least 15 years. I did not make this decision lightly, but rather through years of introspection, analysis and observation.

This long overdue request stems from my observation of the harm that religion causes that was reported on with the “ground zero mosque.” While the Catholic Church did not officially have any part in the controversy, the role of religion in the conflict was more than clear.

Upon further reflection it has become apparent that I need to distance myself from religion to not be a hypocrite. My own association with the Church is in contradiction to my own beliefs.

The Vatican is unstoppable in spreading fear, hatred and lies by using insidious tactics and disquieting messages. I want no part of it and now I need to ensure that I am permanently removed from any association with this church and its hateful politics, forever.

I have chosen not to believe in the unbelievable to get through my life, just as others have chosen faith to get through theirs. Faith is actually a more dangerous thing because while it may offer delusive comfort to some, it leads others to fly airplanes into buildings.

Please do not construe any part of this letter as argument ad hominem. You have just as much right to believe as I have not to believe. Nevertheless, I offer the following personal declarations which clarify my commitment to this liberating personal milestone, for the record:

I do not believe that any god or afterlife exists, and will do not live my life as if they did. There is plenty of good that can be done on this planet without the selfish reward to get in the way.

I hereby reject all of the dogmata and official teachings of Roman Catholicism.

I renounce all blessings, benefits, graces, sanctifications and advantages supposedly conferred on me by the Church or by any religious act done by me, to me or on my behalf with or without my informed consent, in the past, present or future.

I condemn as monstrous the idea of original sin, and renounce any and all baptismal rituals done on my behalf to wash it away.

I reject the sacramental bond of belonging to the body of Christ that is the church, conferred by the baptismal character, and I strongly refute any claim or acceptance of this as an ontological and permanent bond regardless of the the rulings by the Church’s legal arm.

I reject as absurd the idea of an atoning sacrifice and spurn its presumed benefits.

I reject as preposterous the concept of a virgin giving birth and Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, both of which violate all laws of nature, physics, chemistry and biology as well as common sense.

I reject the idea that the dead can be reborn.

I reject the notion that a woman can be bodily removed from the universe.

I reject that the Pope, or any human for that matter, can be infallible.

I do not believe that any book written by man can be divinely inspired or the direct word of a god. The only true inspiration is imagination and the bible has plenty of that. I enjoy it as a great work of literature and is a fascinating anthology of historical fiction, nothing more. I know that such a work reflects the culture and society of its own time, in which illiterate nomadic tribes suffered under repressive and corrupt theocracies. I cannot follow such ancient rules to guide my life today.

I reject the idea of praying as a solution to real-life problems and find its use an insult to thinking, able-bodied people. I believe that prayer is used by the church as a manifestation of false hope, a means of distraction and a tool of oppression. Call it what it is: ‘meditation’. Being truly alone in the universe with my thoughts, without the clutter and confusion of an imaginary divine voice is the most liberating place to be. Perhaps this is horror to a believer, but to me, this solitude is ecstasy.

I don’t give thanks to a deity but I do thank scientists, artists, doctors, soldiers, entrepreneurs, writers, firemen and others who have made the world a better place simply because they care about humanity.

I do not believe in miracles or divine intervention.

I resent seeing a bible next to my bed in every hotel room across the country.

I firmly reject the church’s archaic and irrelevant teachings on:

  • Birth control
  • The role of women
  • Homosexuality
  • Priestly celibacy (we all know where that leads, regardless of sexual orientation).

I strongly support the promotion of condom use as a proven means of reducing the risk of pregnancy and sexual transmitted infections, including HIV.

I support same-gender marriage because I understand and believe that:

  • Consenting adults have the inalienable right to partner as they see fit
  • Marriage is first and foremost a legal arrangement designed to protect shared interests and bonds from external forces such as the church or the state
  • We are supposed to love one another, even the bible tells us this.

(Note: I would like to add to Pierre Trudeau’s statements on these matters: “There’s no place for the state [or the church] in the bedrooms of the nation”, and, “what’s done in private between adults doesn’t concern the Criminal Code [or the church]”).

I strongly support stem cell research and I find the church’s stance to be yet another example of its irrational fear of scientific inquiry. Should a Catholic mother reject a life-saving treatment for her dying baby if that treatment came out of stem cell research? What would it mean to the church if she chose her Faith over her child?

Similarly I support the medical community to prescribe the treatments they deem necessary to save live and/or prevent suffering including abortion to save the life of the mother and assisted suicides.

Likewise I hold that abortion is a religious question and the state does not have a say in its regulation; it is a discussion between a woman, her doctor, and her god if she chooses to believe in one.

To make my intent clear I have spent much time and effort to publicly show my beliefs to my friends and the world at large. You are free to browse my blog at http://blog.vec.com/tag/religion/ to verify my intent for yourself. I called it tongue in cheek “heresy week” to ensure that my motivation was more than clear — to show the wrongdoings, as I see them, of the Church to all.

As a principled and reasonable individual, I refuse to be counted any longer as an adherent of Catholic politics and beliefs, which continue to do irreparable harm to humanity and with which I profoundly disagree. I consider these beliefs to be an irrational superstition at best, and a cruel, destructive force at worst.

I declare that I am aware of the consequences of this act regarding the reception of the sacraments of the Church, including the sacraments of the Eucharist, marriage and the sick and also with regard to burial.

I undertake to make this decision known to my next of kin and to ensure that they are aware of these circumstances in the case of my being incapacitated.

I acknowledge that I make this declaration under solemn oath, being of sound mind and body, and in the presence of a witness who can testify as to the validity of this document.

For these reasons, I hereby request to be officially unbaptized and excommunicated as soon as possible, to have my name removed from all church accounts, to provide that this act be noted in the baptismal registry (cfr. can. 535, § 2) with explicit mention of the occurrence of a “defectio ab Ecclesia catholica actu formali” and to record that I am no longer a member of the Catholic church according to the PCLT. I want no association whatsoever with this church for the rest of my life and expect these wishes to be honoured.

Should you require further information to proceed, please advise accordingly.

I look forward to receiving official confirmation of this action at your earliest convenience. Should I not hear from you within two months, I will contact you by telephone.

Sincerely yours,

[signature]

George Burgyan

With much thanks to PeterGoodman at 43things.com and CountMeOut.ie. I hope that each of them can understand and forgive me for my blatant I plagiarism. I copied extensively from each of their letters to produce my own. To each, thank you — you marked the trail which I am walking on. This is a culmination of years of thinking. The letter, while not an exact copy of each, is careful to reflect my own views on the matter.

In regard to the Monday date — that’s the day I will send it via the postal system — delivery confirmation. The exact letter I send might be slightly different due to any revisions, but it will be materially the same.

Thus concludes “Heresy Week,” thanks to everyone for putting up with me on this one.