Can a Catholic be “de-baptized”?
Baptism has a spiritual potency that can never be wiped away.
In recent years there has been a small movement in Europe and elsewhere where individuals seek to be “de-baptized” and removed from a church’s baptismal registry. The act is done to formally “renounce” a person’s upbringing, completely severing ties with the Catholic Church.
Is it possible to be “de-baptized”?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms that “Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, the person baptized is configured to Christ. Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ. No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation. Given once for all, Baptism cannot be repeated” (CCC 1272).
This means that even if a person sins against God by renouncing him in an official manner, that act can never erase the spiritual mark left by baptism.
The Catechism adds that, “The Holy Spirit has marked us with the seal of the Lord (‘Dominicus character’) ‘for the day of redemption.’ ‘Baptism indeed is the seal of eternal life.’ The faithful Christian who has ‘kept the seal’ until the end, remaining faithful to the demands of his Baptism, will be able to depart this life ‘marked with the sign of faith’” (CCC 1274). The seal of baptism does not guarantee a “ticket” to Heaven, but it does forever mark a person’s soul and they will be judged by God according to that seal.
With this in mind, a pastor is not able to remove a person from their baptismal registry because of the permanent nature of baptism.
This is also why a person can never be baptized a second time. Provided that the first baptism was valid, a Catholic who officially renounced his/her faith does not need to be baptized a second time to be readmitted into the flock. A faithful reception of the sacrament of confession (along with the full satisfaction of any type of penance connected to those sins) has the power to wipe away all sins and restore that person’s baptismal innocence.
Atheists and satanists who repent of their sins are gladly welcomed back into the fold of Jesus Christ and do not need to be baptized again.
God is very patient and even when we stray far from our baptismal promises, he never stops pursuing us. He is the “Hound of Heaven” and will seek us out. It is up to us to allow ourselves to be found by God and accept his love into our lives.
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