Oct 3, 2010

[Technicolor Musings] The Contradiction Of Religion

Flickr: designwallah - Angel of Grief - William Wetmore Story and Emelyn Story
Angel of Grief - William Wetmore Story and Emelyn Story
by Francis Mariani / designwallah via Flickr.

In light of the recent back-and-forth (exaggerated) media war regarding the CBCP's stand on the Reproductive Health Bill, naturally expressions of everyone's stands on the matter has led to a polarizing of the public into different groups. And as we cut through all the usual socio-economic definitions of groups, denominations and factions, it's interesting to note how people choose to view the recent events, especially the somewhat scandalous protest of Carlos Celdran.

Amidst all the statements, blog posts, status updates and comments being posted on various websites left and right, I find it interesting to know how many gay people still identify with the Catholic Church in one way or another. I have no issues with what people choose to believe or how they define faith for themselves, but I do find it odd to still identify with a religion that (1) condemns us for how we choose to live our lives as gay men and women and (2) has obviously overstepped its bounds in terms of their role in local politics and need to learn to back down and focus on their congregation.

And thus I ask the question - how can gay people still identify as being part of the Roman Catholic Church when the Church does not recognize us in turn? Even if you try to claim some higher ground of wanting to adhere to the principles of the religious beliefs of Catholicism, that doesn't make you the kind of valued member they like to count as part of their flock.

Flickr: carinemily - Pride 2009
Pride 2009
by Carine Rhoden / carinemily via Flickr.

Thus in a country that loves to claim to be the largest Catholic population in Asia, isn't it about time that we checked their math? How does one actually count the number of truly active Catholics in the country today?

Like most other Filipinos, I was raised Catholic. I studied at Ateneo, a Jesuit-run Catholic school, for both grade school and high school. However, by the time I fully accepted my homosexuality, I had also come to terms with the fact that I was not one for religion. I still believe in the possibility of a divine force that helps shape the events of our lives from day-to-day, but I don't think a group of old men in robes are the best people to tell me what to do and interpret ancient texts or the ways of the universe in a manner consistent with their teachings.

At its core, rejecting religion is rejecting the organization and not necessarily any particular system of belief. You can continue to believe in how Christianity or Catholicism has has defined God or even what we have come to accept to be the teachings of Jesus Christ. The same can be said for wanting to believe in the teachings of Islam and not necessarily being okay with the edicts of their organization.

But I can see how it's easy to confuse the two - many people still claim to follow Catholic teachings despite doing things that would, well, be defined as "living in sin" or something along those lines. The Church doctrines on how "membership" is defined are pretty liberal and generous. This is, after all, a religion that prides itself on its ability to forgive. But does mere belief in the basic principles of the religion mean you're still actively part of it? Even if you don't agree with certain practices and stands the Church takes on public issues, such as contraceptives and abortion? And in our case, homosexuality?

Flickr: DCCXLIX - All Rds Lead to ....
All Rds Lead to ....
by DCCXLIX via Flickr.

So what does one do when they've determined for themselves that they no longer want to be part of a Church that may teach love but continues to espouse doctrines of hate against homosexuals and other groups that don't behave in line with their teachings? How does one decide to leave? I tried a quick Google search for "how to leave the Catholic Church" and found this eHow page about How to Leave the Catholic Church. Their stand is just to stop going to mass since lack of participation should be the equivalent of rejecting the organization. It's either that or doing something that warrants excommunication like forming your own Church within the larger organization or being personally involved in an abortion.

So I did some more searching and found a lot more documentation about it. Apparently in the eyes of the Church, it's not exactly enough to just stop going to mass for you to be considered off their roster. A formal notice of defection from the Church, referred to as Actus Formalis Defectionis Ab Ecclesia Catholica, is still needed.

Yes, there have been actual Church discussions and doctrines about how people can leave. And sort of like how hard it is to cancel your mobile phone subscription, there are certain conditions that must be met first. They need proof of the following (quoting the aforementioned Vatican website):
1) The internal decision to leave the Church
2) The realization and external manifestation of that decision
3) The reception of that decision by the competent ecclesiastical authority

So yeah, this is a heck of a lot more complicated than what most people think.

Thus to put my money where my mouth is, I'm drafting this letter that I wish to send out to relevant parties. I have the email addresses of the Vatican and the CBCP and surely this blog entry will could as a clear external manifestation of my decision to formally leave the Church. I do not want to be counted as part of their number after ceasing to practice the faith for the past seven or so years now. I have my own definition of my faith and my beliefs and I don't want to be flagged as a dissident or even a sort of insurgent amongst Catholics. I also want to set the record straight in terms of the numbers of Catholics in the country - while just making sure that I'm not part of the overall count anymore, I hope this entry acts as a way to help others who share my views set the record straight. It's time to end the contradiction and living a lie. I'm not going to play the pick-and-choose game and claim to be Catholic in some ways but agnostic in others, as many other gay people have done time and time again.

This website was helpful enough to provide a few possible formats, but I settled on this one:


I, Ricardo Rodolfo Rolando G. Sunico, Jr., do hereby give formal notice of my defection from the Roman Catholic Church. I want it to be known that I no longer wish to be regarded as a member of the Roman Catholic Church .

I further 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.

(Cfr. Can. 1086 §1, 1117 & 1124)

To the Parish priest of the parish of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Fr. Desiderio G. Martin, CMF
Date: October 3, 2010

SUBJECT: Request For Formal Defection From The Catholic Church

I, the undersigned Ricardo Rodolfo Rolando G. Sunico, Jr., born on the date August 28, 1982 and baptized in the parish of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Quezon City, formally declare that I make an unequivocal personal, conscious and free decision to leave the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church.

My baptism, made against my will, should be considered null and void.

I ask that this decision be noted in writing in the baptismal registry as a “defectio ab Ecclesia catholica actu formali” as per cfr.can.535, §2.


Ricardo Rodolfo Rolando G. Sunico, Jr.
October 3, 2010

In addition to posting this online, I am sending copies of this declaration to the following:
The Bishop's Office of the Diocese of Cubao - bishopsoffice@dioceseofcubao.org
Msgr. Pedro C. Quitorio III, CBCP Media Office Director - msgrpepe@cbcpworld.net
The Vatican Press Office - av@pccs.va
Pope Benedict XVI - benedictxvi@vatican.va
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