My Letter of Defection from the Roman Catholic Church

Here is the complete text of the letter I sent to the Archbishop of Los Angeles on May 25, 2010:

May 25, 2010

His Eminence Roger Cardinal Mahony

Archbishop of Los Angeles

3424 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010-2202

Re: Formal Act of Defection from the Roman Catholic Church (Actus formalis defectionis ab Ecclesia catholica)

Cardinal Mahony:

I, Therese Helena Lee, 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. My reasons for defection are stated below.

1) To begin, I am an atheist. I do not believe in God, the divinity or resurrection of Jesus, the immaculate conception or assumption of Mary, or the Holy Ghost.

2) I disagree with the church’s position on contraception and abortion. In 1966, after the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, Pope Paul VI’s birth control commission presented its preliminary report to the pope. The commission had overwhelmingly voted to recommend lifting the prohibition on contraceptives. Then in July 1968, Paul VI released the encyclical Humanae Vitae, which reaffirmed the ban on contraception. I was shocked to discover that the ban was not lifted because three dissenting bishops on the commission had privately gone to plead with the pope arguing that if the church’s position on contraceptives was changed, the teaching authority of the church would be questioned and the faithful could no longer trust the hierarchy. Therefore, in order to preserve its own authority, the church disregarded the dignity and the rights of all of its parishioners to determine if and when they would have children. It even went so far as to call the use of contraceptives “intrinsically evil.” This shows the church’s inherent disrespect for its members and a stunning lack of moral leadership. I believe the person who is in the best position to determine whether or not a child should be born is a woman—not a man, not the government, and certainly not the Roman Catholic Church. The church’s position on birth control and abortion is premised on the idea that a woman’s body does not belong to herself. In the church’s view, a person’s body belongs to God and only he has the right to determine its fate. I state here unequivocally that my body belongs to me and no one else. It is I who possess absolute authority over my body, and I retain the right to determine if and when I engage in sexual activity, with whom I engage in it, and whether that sexual union will result in the birth of a child. I further state that insisting that couples use the Vatican-approved “Rhythm Method” alone is offensive, as it does not account for the fact that this method is highly ineffective and may not be appropriate for everyone.

3) For decades the Roman Catholic Church has allowed thousands of priests worldwide to rape children. When this abuse was brought to the church’s attention, it simply disregarded the welfare of these children and transferred the offending priests to different parishes to rape more children. Furthermore, the church has conspired to conceal these crimes by refusing to cooperate with the criminal authorities whose responsibility it is to investigate reports of child abuse and to bring the perpetrators to justice. In 2001, Pope Benedict XVI—then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger—convinced Pope John Paul II to put the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CFD) in charge of investigating the allegations of sexual abuse. As head of the CFD at that time, Cardinal Ratzinger was placed in charge of an “investigation” which amounted to nothing more than a massive, trans-continental cover-up. As Pope Benedict XVI has conspired with other church officials to prevent the authorities of various nations from properly investigating criminal activity, I believe that he is guilty of criminal conspiracy and should be arrested and tried in a court of law. Fortunately for him, in addition to being the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, he is also a head of state, which provides him with diplomatic immunity. This, sadly, prevents him from being arrested and tried by any nation. For an organization that claims to value children, the church has had no trouble sacrificing the welfare of Catholic children worldwide in order to protect its own public image.

4) It was inappropriate and immoral for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, of which you have served as Chairman of the Domestic Policy Committee, to donate $200,000 to the campaign to deny marriage rights to the gay people of California. It was also immoral for the church to contribute over $500,000 to stop gay couples from marrying in Maine. Pope Benedict XVI’s statement that gay people threaten the survival of humanity displayed the church’s inherent callousness and bigotry with regard to the treatment of gay people worldwide.

It is for the reasons stated above that I cannot in good conscience allow myself to be counted as a member of this church. I will not be part of an organization that has conspired to commit countless felonies, engaged in astonishing displays of bigotry, and disregarded the dignity and welfare of its parishioners more times then can be counted.

I further declare that I am aware of the consequences of this act of defection 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 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.

Please record that I am no longer a Roman Catholic and remove my name from the parish baptism records. I would appreciate a written confirmation of this request.


Therese H. Lee

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