An open letter to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor

Inspired by this thread on reddit I thought I’d write an open letter to Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, the Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, requesting that my name no-longer be counted as Catholic.

Dear Sir,
According to The Times religious affairs correspondent, Ruth Gledhill, “Figures for 2005 show that there are 4.2 million Catholics in England and Wales”.

I was baptised a Catholic, as a baby, by my parents, in 1973. Since then I have grown to appreciate the significance of religion throughout human history and have a great respect for the tradition of learning and academic excellence encouraged for hundreds of years by the Roman Catholic tradition.

However, I am troubled by the idea that my name might still count as being a Catholic, in the Church’s records, since it has been a number of decades since my last confession. Indeed, since the 1990’s I have considered myself atheist on the existence of Yahweh, or any other deity, and for the past 5 years have identified myself as a secular humanist.

I wondered if there was any mechanism in place, within your Church, for removing records of membership or a system whereby membership figures might be amended, so as to remove my name from the archive.

This may seem like a petty stance—but in principal I feel very strongly that my name be in no way associated with an organisation such as one which would protect Bishop Paul Marcinkus, for example; or, indeed, one which would have as its leader, a man who calls for humility and sacrifice, when sitting atop a golden, jewel encrusted throne, whilst calling 11,000 signatures on petition to investigate child abuse, a “Media Exaggeration”.

If removing my name from the official register is a matter of excommunication, I am happy to admit I have committed a great number of “mortal sins”, over the years. I’ve had sex out of wedlock, I deny the existence of the holy ghost, the virgin birth, I deny transubstantiation and renounce my confirmation name Saint, Mark, as a composite character from folklore, highly unlikely to have even met Jesus, whom himself is highly unlikely to have been the son of his own externalised ego.

Indeed, with regard to these articles of faith, I differ only slightly from Agnesë ‘Mother Teresa’ Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, who’s posthumously published memoirs revealed the doubts I’m sure you have similarly felt about the historical verisimilitude of the new testament story, in that she believed it to be untrue for just the final 25 years of her life, whereas the rest of my life is still ahead of me.

Yours, sincerely

James Gardner.

I am attempting to find a contact address for the Cardinal, where I will add more personal details, so that his office might contact the regional diocese and ask them to look into my request for removal from the official record.


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