A WEBSITE set up by a Dundalk man which aims to help people leave the Catholic Church has experienced a ten-fold increase in traffic after the publication of the Cloyne Report.
Cormac Flynn, a web designer from Faughart, set up www.Countmeout.ie in the wake of revelations about child abuse in religious institutions in the Ryan Report.
The website made headlines in 2009 when it offered a three-step process for those wishing to formally defect from the Catholic Church.
The process involved sending a ‘Declaration of Defection’ to one’s local diocese, after which an annotation was made to the baptismal register.
However, in 2010, the church made changes to Canon Law which removed the option to formally defect. Countmeout.ie repsonded by exploring alternative methods of formally renouncing one’s membership and recently tried a new declaration known as an ‘Act of Apostasy’.
The Act of Apostasy allows someone to declare themselves an apostate to the faith, ie one who rejects Christian teachings. Canon Law stipulates that an apostate to the faith automatically incurs a latae senteniae excommunication.
The organisation recently assisted 16 people in their effort to have an ‘Act of Apostasy’ recognised as a formal declaration of their wish to leave the church. However, the Archdiocese of Dublin said it cannot accept the declarations, which means those who want to leave the church are being denied the option.
A spokesperson for Archdiocese of Dublin said that excommunication does not mean that somebody is no longer a member of the church.
“It appears that there is currently no possibility of formally ceasing one’s membership of the Catholic Church. This has implications for one’s freedom of religion and association,” said Countmeout.ie Co-Founder Paul Dunbar.
“Many want to leave the church and we are now calling on the church to make this a possibility.”