Italian Catholics Can Get ‘Unchristened’

by Nicole Martinelli posted: Thu Dec. 5 8:24 am

Disgruntled Catholics have come a step closer to washing off holy water they were baptized in as tiny children. Upon request, priests in Italy must note alongside baptism information the will of adults to leave the Roman Catholic Church. Bowing to pressure from lobby groups who call the act ‘unchristening,’ the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI) recently outlined the procedure.
Both sides disagree on the scope of the phenomenon — one activist group claims 10,000 people have presented unchristening requests; the Church says it is trying to do right by a ‘few dozen’ people who wish not to be counted as Catholics.

Statistics, however, show a large number of slumbering or disinterested members of the country’s predominant religion — although 98% of Italians are baptized, only 36% attend mass regularly and over 14% never attend at all, according to 1999 data from Italian National Statistical Institute (ISTAT). Baptism records are used for Church statistics and influence whether last rites and religious funerals are administered.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, CEI president, made it clear that the Church considers the issue an entirely bureaucratic one. “You can’t cancel a sacrament any more than you can cancel the act of being born,” he told newspapers.

For Catholic writer Vittorio Messori, the matter is just an adjustment by the Church to avoid legal woes. “In the same way a priest can leave the church but never de-priest himself, people can decide not to live as Catholics, but if baptized they will always be Catholics,” he told zoomata. “These pressure groups have made a big issue out of nothing and the Church is simply trying to avoid additional problems.”

Bureaucratic or not, the policy change is a David-versus-Goliath type victory for small but persistent groups like the Italian Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics (UAAR) that has been campaigning for unchristening since 1995. At first, they made little headway with parish priests who refused requests to modify or cancel baptism records.

Lobby groups took the Church to court finding an ally in Italy’s strict privacy law. Judges ruled that the Church must adhere to the law forbidding organizations from keeping sensitive personal data on an individual without consent or the possibility to modify that information.

Giorgio Villella, secretary general of UAAR, 66, admits he hasn’t had time to have himself de-christened yet. He’s too busy with the next item on the group’s agenda — ‘de-cruxifixing Italy,’ removing the ubiquitous symbol of the Church from post offices, courtrooms, schools and hospitals. “For too long the presence of the Catholic Church was taken for granted in Italy, but not anymore.”


12 thoughts on “Italian Catholics Can Get ‘Unchristened’


  2. I believe the point these “unCatholics” are trying to make is that just because they’ve been baptised doesn’t make them loyal adherents of the Church, and, hence, should not be counted as belonging to Catholocism.

  3. Oh Really. I challange you to name the atheists that asked you to pray with them at the end of thier lives as I really doubt that these episodes happened.

  4. I have two points to make:
    1. Baptism is a sacrament. The definition of a sacrament is a “visible, tangible sign of an invisible grace”–a grace bestowed upon us by God to show us His love. It literally and spiritually means “we are set apart by God and He calls us His child. He marks our soul for His great and glorius purpose”. Once marked and set apart by God, you cannot be UN-SETAPART (if there is such a word). Who would ever WANT to be unbaptised???
    If there are Catholics out there that base their Faith on the Catholic Church then they are wrong, their Faith should be placed on Christ alone. If they wish to leave the church, then they should just walk out the door. They don’t have to be a “practicing” Catholic. They can join the thousands out there that already do that.
    2. Taking down the Crucifixes throughout Italy would not make Italy any less Catholic because it was not the Catholic Church that died on the cross, but Jesus. The crucifix stands throughout Italy and the world as a sign for us all of the healing and saving powers of Jesus. It’s not just for Catholics!!! Christ died for us all.
    peace and blessing, Mary USA

  5. I agree that it’s a bit ludicrous to be “unchristened” or “unbaptized“. There are, however, a few points to consider:

    1) Biblically, membership in a local Church implies an accountability not only to God but also to the local Church body. This doesn’t mean that there should be some ceremonial undoing, but a recognition of disassociation is understandable and, in my opinion, necessary.

    2) As far as those who “want to be unbaptized“, let’s remember that most, if not all of these people were not baptized of their own free will as a public confession of their professed faith in Christ. They were presented as unwitting infants by their parents or guardians. Therefore, it is also understandable that as they mature and gain an understanding of their faith, they may feel betrayed and even deceived if they come to a point of disbelief in the traditional Roman Catholic Church. All of that would naturally lead to a desire to make a public statement that they no longer associate themselves with Catholicism.

    The fact that the Bishops have decided on a so-called “procedure” to carry out this process should infuriate Catholics, not because of those who desire to be disassociated, but rather because of the presumptuous attitude of the Catholic Church that they wield some sort of ceremonial power over the destination of human souls, either by conducting them into the Church body or by processing them out. God alone knows the condition of our souls and if He has”unchristened” us, then we are set apart for life. How can anyone be so deluded as to think that they have the power to take away a gift that God Himself has given?

    Someone else responded that baptism is a symbol of our being “set apart” (which is the literal meaning of the word “holy” or “sanctified“). Rest assured, my friend, that it is neither the Roman Catholic Church nor any other that has the power and authority to sanctify, but God alone.

    Be careful not to lose sight of Biblical truths in favor of religious tradition.

  6. Please understand that Baptism is for your “Soul”. To even request to have a man-made ceremony that presents to you the “reality” of unmaking your baptism (as if it never happened) would be on the same line as an occult satinic ritual, one that would do so much harm to your soul and manifest to your person. If you are so unhappy with your Baptism, then simply pray to God in your soul and in your silence with Him. Don’t give in to a ‘ritual’ that will certainly bring harm to you. That’s ridiculous.

  7. When a baby or adult is baptized, the mark of baptism is on their soul forever according to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. If a baptized Catholic leaves the Church and does not return, he will go to Hell and his sufferings will be worse than the unbaptized. If these apostates don’t believe in God or Hell, then they should remember the words of the famous Italian Saint, St. Padre Pio, to a Protestant who didn’t believe in Hell, “You’ll believe it when you get there”. Joe, USA

  8. God bless those people who are waking up and realizing that God lives in your heart and NOT in any church!
    The Catholic church wants to control you for power and money – it does NOT want you to feel like you have your OWN relationship with GOD. They would lose their mansions and jewels.
    Just look at the church today. Is it where Jesus would want you to worship Him?
    Million dollar jewels in the Vatican while people are dying of hunger!
    Catholic schools are closing while Bishop’s mansions are maintained.
    The Pope speaks out against war but says “avoid scandal” when priests sexually abuse children.
    People are waking up to where God really lives!
    I say God is blessing you when you decide to get

  9. Oh, Joe, it’s bad enough Protestants and others misstate Catholic theology, please don’t pretend you can know who goes to hell or not. You have no way of knowing what is in a person’s heart and there can be any number of justifiable reasons for people to leave the Church and that doesn’t condemn them to hell. I know that because I have studied Catholic theology and so it is the Church who tells me that.

    As far as getting unchristened, well, whatever floats your boat. It’s pretty dopey.

  10. It’s all political… it’s about making a political statement. It happens to every large institution – McDonalds, Microsoft, America etc. If they’re large enough, then they’re bound to attract the attention of idiots like this. As per the previous reply, it’s all about free-will, they can do what they want, but I honestly don’t believe any ceremony is going to help the situation. It would be better to have them handed their baptismal certificates back and have it left at that. It is ridiculous and immature to take it so far. The empty can rattles the most they say.

    (I have found there are atheists and there are athiests. Some people really don’t believe in God and others really don’t want to believe in God only because it’s so much easier not too.)


  11. I was christened against my will as a baby. I don’t believe in any kind of god. I’m angry that I was forced into religious ceremony. Baptism of babies should be illegal. I wish I could be unchristened.

  12. Since it has been proved that the Bible is no authority (see “The Bible Unearthed”, by Finkelstein and Silberman, “Bondage of the Mind”, by R. D. Gold, “Misquoting Jesus”, by Bart D. Ehrman, among others) it is arrogant of anyone to warn others that they are negating a “grace given to them by God”. Those who have taken the trouble to research the source of the Bible and have found how little there is, and how “off-register” the stories are, naturally feel they’ve “been had”, and would like to separate themselves from such nonsense. Nobody likes to find out they’ve been lied to. It rankles, to put it mildly. I don’t blame anyone for wanting to remove themselves from the head-count of any particular religion, when they have found out it is all smoke-and-mirrors. I think we non-believers go through stages of shock, rage, grief, and all that, before coming to a “just let it go” position. Nobody wants to upset their family, especially if it’s always been a pleasant family. The hard thing is to decide whether it is more important to tell the truth and rock the boat, or keep your feelings to yourself and keep the family happy. I would strongly suggest giving yourself a couple of years to go through the stages. You don’t need to go to church, just keep mum until you’ve figured out what you really want to do. Is there an easy way to tell family members? Without seeming to try to “drag them into your viewpoint and ruin their own”? This is where you may need to just say something privately, to each individual family member, like, “Please don’t feel offended, but I don’t believe the church stuff any more”, and don’t offer any further explanation, which could become a snare and muddle up family relations. It is not an easy decision, unless you live all alone, and have no one “counting on you” for anything.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *