I was baptized, am I still "officially" Catholic?

As the title says: I was baptized shortly after birth in a Catholic ceremony. Only went to Church at funerals and one or two Christmases. I also ate one or two hosts and drank a few sips of wine at the time - I’m not sure if I was supposed or allowed to but everybody was doing it and nobody stopped me anyway.

Never believed in God, never confessed, but never bothered to officially recant my beliefs or anything like that either.

But I gather that the baptizing is the main thing. Does this make me a Catholic as far as the Holy Church is concerned? Am I still in some kind of record as a member of that organization? If so, how do I get them to strike me off the record?

You may find this column by the Perfect Master informative.

Specifically - there aren’t any formal, centralized rolls per se, but you’re probably a Catholic and can’t un-become a Catholic.

Well dammit. Seems I’m stuck with it, then.

On the other hand, the curch claims a particular number of followers. How do they do do that if they don’t officially keep count? I’m assuming they don’t rely on nationally organized censuses and stuff, but I may be wrong.

Well, there’s various reports on the percentages of people who claim a particular faith. For instance, you can browse the CIA Fact Book and see how many people consider themselves Catholic in Chad (20.1% of 10,329,208 people or 2,076,160 Catholics). So I suppose you could get a reasonable estimate that way.

But, as already answered in the original question, Catholic doctrine is that baptism can not be effaced and once you’re baptized Catholic, you’re baptized Catholic for life.

Ignorance fought. I thought that, if you had the chance, you had to be confirmed to be considered still Catholic.

Howabout if you’re excommunicated?

Also note that the Catholic church recognizes baptisms from most other Christian sects as valid, as well (basically, so long as the baptism is performed in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the person doing the baptism recognizes all three as being the singular God, it’s valid). So if you’re baptized in, say, the Methodist church, and then convert to Catholicism, you’ll go through a rite of initiation of some sort, but you won’t be baptized again, since a single baptism is good for your entire life. In fact, it’s even possible for a non-Christian to perform a valid (in the eyes of the Church) baptism, so long as they have a genuine intent to do so, but of course this should only be done in extreme circumstances.

Nope. From the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia:

(Bolding mine)

You still keep the initials after you name : Superfluous Parentheses, R.C.

They just stand for Retired Catholic now.


To paraphrase Cecil, an excommunicated Catholic is still an excommunicated Catholic. You’re not thrown out of the Church; you’re just barred from (most of) the sacraments. (Parallel: an American citizen convicted of a crime and imprisoned is not deemed a non-citizen; he’s just deprived of freedoms enjoyed by most Americans for the length of his sentence. Similarly, an excommunicated Catholic has the right to go to a priest (or bishop) and repent of what caused his excommunication, be absolved, and resume being a Catholic if he so chooses.)

You can’t. In France an organization tried to have his members “unbaptized”. They had to go to court to have their name removed from baptism records, since no bishhop accepted to do so willingly (and this was possible only because french law give a right of information, access and modification to nominal databases you’re included in).

Nevertheless, even though their names were removed from the actual baptism records, the church made sure to state that their baptism was still valid hence that they were still catholics, willing or not.

Technicalities might make a perfect atheist unwillingly member of several different religions.

The initiation thing is probably what confused me. I had a roommate in college who almost converted for a girl, and all he lacked was some ceremony. Even though he decided not to convert, he continued to attend the on-campus mass for various reasons. He was, however, not allowed to partake in the Eucharist, and only went up for a Blessing.

As far is the RCC is concerned I believe they consider that you are just in a rebellious state of some sort, which would leave open the door for you to come back and they will gladly give you rules, regulation and instruct you how to live your life.

Nitpick: Scripturally you were not baptized, baptism has always been a free will choice, no one can do that for you. What you were in what is sometimes called infant dedication to the Lord, there is one example of this in scriptures, Samson.

Since the RCC practices infant baptism, a further sacrament of initiation into the ranks of the faithful is required after a child reaches the age of reason. Confirmation doesn’t actually do anything new…it just confirms the commitment to the Church.

Now it seems to be mostly done with high-school age kids, which is better than it was when I was confirmed in the 7th grade. I hadn’t even started to question this religion thing at that point. And since I was going to a Catholic elementary school, it’s not like my participation in the confirmation rite was a matter of informed consent.

Not to engage in Junior Modding, but this really belongs in Great Debates. Suffice it to say, for the benefit of others, that what kanicbird says here is the opinion of a small minority even of active Christians.

You are right on this, my apologies.