Turns out you can't just stop going. As far as the church is concerned, a lapsed Catholic is as good as a good Catholic ... unless you resign.Cynical C has uncovered proof of this fun little fact in the form of the following exchange between an ex-Catholic and her Bishop. (See the full exchange at Emptv.com.)
"Last month, I officially resigned from the Roman Catholic Church. I haven’t been to church in several years, and I no longer follow Catholicism or Christianity (not that I really believed it to begin with). However, the Catholic church has an odd policy regarding who they consider a Catholic. If you’ve been baptized in a Catholic church, as I was, the church counts you as a member for life even if you stop attending. The only way to have this reversed is to formally defect, notifying the bishop of your local diocese that you’ve left the church. After yet another preposterous moral pronouncement from the pope, I decided to do just that."
2. Cardinal's Response:
"Mr. ——–, with regret I will comply with your request and have your declaration noted in your baptismal record at ——– Church and a copy of your statement kept with this baptismal register. I trust you have made this declaration freely, without coercion of any kind, and clearly understand that leaving the Catholic Church makes you ineligible to receive the sacraments and that you will no longer be entitled to a Catholic burial. Since baptism is an action of Christ himself, no one can undo that; but officially you have left the Church."