‘De-baptism’ Is the Latest Dutch Trend

The trend of Dutch Catholics ‘de-baptizing’ themselves is gaining traction after Pope Benedict XVI made remarks against marriage equality in his World Day of Prayer for Peace (January 1) address.

Ontdopen.nl, the website that claims to provide automated ‘de-baptism,’ was begun as a response to the sexual abuse crisis in the Netherlands. Now, the Catholic Church’s continued campaign against marriage equality leads to a leap in website views from ten daily to ten thousand.

Bondings 2.0 previously covered the Pope’s address which included a statement that same-gender marriages manipulate nature and destroy the ‘essence of the human creature.’

According to Gay Star News, the ‘de-baptism’ process entails a person entering personal information and receiving a “ resignation letter” that can then be sent to diocesan and parish officials as formal separation from the Catholic Church.

Website founder Tom Roes readily admits that ‘de-baptism’ is not exactly the function of Ontdopen.nl, telling LGBTQ Nation about its true function and limits:

“‘Of course it’s not possible to be ‘de-baptized’ because a baptism is an event, but this way people can unsubscribe or de-register themselves as Catholics,’ Roes said, although he admits he has no way of verifying just how many visitors to his website actually follow through and leave the church.”

The growth of Ontdopen.nl in the Netherlands, the first nation to legalize marriage equality and one where 44% of citizens claim no religious affiliation, should be troubling for Catholic leadership. Until now, most adherents passively separated themselves by not participating in Mass or parish activities, but generally when asked by pollsters still claimed “Catholic” as their religious affiliation. Actively separating oneself from Catholicism is a new and further step.

With the United States emerging more like the Netherlands in providing greater LGBT equality and also declining in people who religiously affiliate, this Dutch trend is perhaps a troubling vision into American Catholicism’s future if the bishops continue their anti-equality efforts.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

0 replies
  1. Thomas F. Luce3
    Thomas F. Luce3 says:

    Oops I can’t see the post I’m answering…Oh well. My immediate reaction was, quite creative, and then I found myself regretting that there hasn’t yet surfaced a better way of taking our Catholicity more serious–not letting us be defined by the hierarchy and their current right-leaning lay supporters.

    Perhaps I’m too old to expect that people with grievances as large as those we LGBT folk simply will refrain from accepting the recent or all the “teaching” so far about us and continue on about our business as Catholics in the pews. As Catholics we have far more to be lovingly united and making justice than to be kow-towing to the witholding of communion, excommunicatioins, silencing.

    I left the church when I married in the ’70’s, a duly ordained priest–graduate of the Pontifical Roman institutions. I thought the thousands of us doing this would simply by sheer numbers be irresistable to the majority of Catholics. But now and back then there is still this out-of-proportion obedience/obsequiousness keeping the majority from speaking up and taking/witholding action. Is the proliferation of sects and the vituperation warranted in the 21st century? Unity needs to be accomplished, of course, in a heroicly loving and forebearing manner.

    I’ve proposed an approach called, “The Least Harm” . This means that by giving each other the basic respect we owe as disciples of Christ to each other not to mention the least among us, we go about the more important works and agree to do the least harm to one another. Yes this demands a serious amount of negotiating over what the “least harm” looks like. It is not a matter at all of trying to convince one another of our side, it totally eschews calling each other names. Far better that we keep unified and on task.

    Cardinal Bea and John XXIII did this with other religions back in the 60’s when I was in Rome–radical ecumenism. These people were asked to give up killing one another. Why can’t we do the same? Oh I know that those mean and righteous people who hang around several blogs will not agree and will call for hellfire and brimstone. But aren’t we better than that, the majority of us?

  2. Thomas F. Luce
    Thomas F. Luce says:

    I guess I have to trick WordPress into letting my “Least Harm” URL get through. O.K. httpCOLONDOUBLEFORWARDSLASHleastharmDOTweeblyDOTcom Also I left a verb out in par.2, “Perhaps I’m too old to expect that people with grievances as large as those we LGBT folk HAVE…” Thanks and Happy New Year to everyone!

  3. Joe Geist
    Joe Geist says:

    This is a lot of nonsense. The Pope’s statement makes no sense. Why even give it any validity by this idea of de-baptism.

  4. Patrick Nugent
    Patrick Nugent says:

    I did something like this when I learned that the Knights of Columbus were funding the bishops’ vicious opposition to marriage equality. I wrote to the Supreme Knight and the Grand Knight of the council where i took the 3rd degree and “renounced” my degrees. Of course, I never heard from either. But it made me feel good.

  5. Terri Hemker
    Terri Hemker says:

    I refuse to leave the Church. The Pope will leave before I do! I’ll do what I can to change it from the inside out and if they excommunicate me, well that’s too bad, God doesn’t ‘excommunicate’ his children.

    • Tom Luce
      Tom Luce says:

      Hi Joe, Terry, Patrick, Bob and Frank: thanks to all the work by New Ways, Dignity–everyone of the catholic groups–we can enjoy what tremendous acceptance we have received in the general population. What I want to see is substantial change within the church, a Galileo/Murray/John XXIII blessed event! We need to be organized and tactical–loving and honest, but calculated–that keeps us united in the essence of our faith and yet effective in bringing our conscience to bear on the people of God (alias Roman Catholics). This will mean being open, acknowledging church authority, but using our consciences and collective actions to have a 21st century reform==no more excommunications, firings, silencings. It can be done when we unite. Tom

  6. Michael J. Brembs
    Michael J. Brembs says:

    Truly sad that people are mistaking the grace of baptism via Jesus Christ with the “Church”. Someone isprobably making money on this as well, as has happened in England where one needed to pay for the paperwork. Pray, that people will not pay for this and not forsake Christ who loves and accepts all people.

    • Ruben
      Ruben says:

      The Dutch website to be ‘depabtized’ just guides people through the, many, steps and has standard forms to be used. Not a single cent has to be paid for it.

  7. anonymouspresbyter
    anonymouspresbyter says:

    While I so appreciate the sentiment of wanting to put down something that is harmful — something we love that yet stands against our core beliefs…I worry about the idea of “de-baptizing” ourselves. At our baptism, we are baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity — NOT in the name of the Roman Catholic Church…and our baptism is meant to be once for all…It’s a tough spot to find oneself in, I’m sure…and given that I’m Anglican, not Roman Catholic, I can’t really understand what that feels like — so I won’t pretend to.

    Many of us want to stand with you, supporting you in your struggle with hierarchy, myself included…I simply worry that we offer too much power to these hierarchies when we pursue actions like “de-baptizing”…I worry about this when people in my own Church do similar things…at the end of the day, the sacraments, in particular, are gifts from God…for all people — regardless of color, class, race, sexual orientation, or gender identity (and others along every other axis of injustice). The sacraments were never intended to be held hostage by a particular church or denomination…and they’re only really able to be held hostage when we allow it…

    Prayers for New Ways — and for the many LGBTQ Roman Catholics who have yet to be recognized as God’s beloved ones.

    • newwaysministryblog
      newwaysministryblog says:

      Thank you for your beautiful reflection, AnonymousPresbyter. And thank you for your prayers of support.
      I just want to be clear that New Ways Ministry does not support the idea of “de-baptizing.” We reported it because it is news, and because we think it is yet another alarming signal of how disaffected some Catholics are becoming. We think it is important for our Catholic leaders to reflect on how their rhetoric is alienating people from their faith community.

      We will keep you, and our Episcopal brothers and sisters, in our prayers, too. Thanks for taking part in this conversation and adding such an important perspective.

      Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


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