I use this blog as a soap box to preach (ahem... to talk :-) about subjects that interest me.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I am an apostate

Yesterday, I stumbled onto the blog danein.blog.kataweb.it/2009/07/31/scomuniche/ (warning: it is in Italian). The author, a declared atheist, said (my translation): “Is there anybody who can help me to get a serious excommunication, possibly signed by the Pope?” This motivated me to write this post, because I did get an official letter of excommunication from the Catholic Church, albeit not from the Pope himself. Perhaps, others will be inspired by my action and do the same.

As you know, Italy is considered to be a country almost completely Catholic. But this opinion is largely based on the fact that most people are baptised a few days after being born. My parents were not observant at all. I don’t recall to have ever seen my mother go to church, and my father only went once a year on Palm Sunday to get a branch of olive tree. And yet, they baptised me at once. It had probably to do with the fact that it was tradition and that our relatives expected it. Or perhaps it was a leftover from the conditioning of the Fascist era.

In any case, the problem is that, once baptised, you are counted as a Catholic, even if you openly profess being an atheist, an agnostic, or belonging to another religion. This is because each diocese keeps a list of people who have been baptised. Once in, a name cannot be removed, but it is possible to write beside it an annotation stating the will of not belonging to the Roman Catholic Church. The process of requesting the writing of the annotation is called in Italian sbattezzo, which translates to unchristening.

In Italy, Article 7 of the Legislative Decree No. 196 of 2003 states that the dioceses cannot refuse to make the annotation when somebody applies for it, and that they must confirm it to the applicant in writing. They don’t make it easy for you, though, because you have to address your request directly to the parish where you were baptised.

I knew the name of my parish and, as it happened, I discovered that it had an email address. Normally, one is supposed to apply in writing, but on November 3rd, 2009, I sent the following email. I like to include it for the Italians who will read this post, but I confess that I cannot be bothered to translate it. As it refers to Italian laws, it wouldn’t be relevant for anybody else.

Subject: Istanza ai sensi dell'art. 7 del Decreto Legislativo n. 196/2003.
From: Giulio Zambon
Date: Tue, 03 Nov 2009 15:13:29 +1100
To: sangiuseppe-crl@libero.it

Al Parroco della parrocchia San Giuseppe a Via Nomentana
Via Francesco Redi 1
00161 Roma

Io sottoscritto Giulio Zambon, nato a Roma, il ..birth date removed.., residente a Harrison (Australia) e iscritto all’Albo dei cittadini Italiani Residenti all’Estero (AIRE) di Roma, con la presente istanza, presentata ai sensi dell'art. 7, comma 3, del Decreto Legislativo n. 196/2003, mi rivolgo a Lei in quanto responsabile dei registri parrocchiali.

Essendo stato sottoposto a battesimo nella Sua parrocchia, in una data a me non nota ma di poco successiva alla mia nascita, desidero che venga rettificato il dato in Suo possesso, tramite annotazione sul registro dei battezzati, riconoscendo la mia inequivocabile volontà di non essere più considerato aderente alla confessione religiosa denominata "Chiesa cattolica apostolica romana".

Chiedo inoltre che dell'avvenuta annotazione mi sia data conferma sia per posta elettronica che per lettera, debitamente sottoscritta e indirizzata a
Giulio Zambon
..my sister's address, removed..

Si segnala che, in caso di mancato o inidoneo riscontro alla presente richiesta entro 15 giorni, mi riservo, ai sensi dell'art. 145 del Decreto Legislativo n. 196/2003, di rivolgermi all'autorità giudiziaria o di presentare ricorso al Garante per la protezione dei dati personali.

Dichiaro di rinunciare fin da subito a qualsivoglia pausa di riflessione o di ripensamento in ordine alla soprascritta istanza; avverto che considererò ogni dilazione come rifiuto di provvedere nel termine di legge (15 giorni, ai sensi dell’art. 146, comma 2, del D. lgsn. n. 196/2003) e che quindi intendo immediatamente ricorrere all’autorità giudiziaria o al Garante per la tutela dei dati personali, qualora Lei illegittimamente differisse l’annotazione richiesta ad un momento successivo al quindicesimo giorno dal ricevimento della presente.

Ciò, in ottemperanza del Decreto Legislativo n. 196/2003 (che ha sostituito, a decorrere dall’1/1/2004, la previgente Legge n. 675/1996), in ossequio al pronunciamento del Garante per la protezione dei dati personali del 13/9/1999 ed alla sentenza del Tribunale di Padova depositata il 29/5/2000.

Si diffida dal comunicare il contenuto della presente richiesta a soggetti terzi che siano estranei al trattamento, e si avverte che la diffusione o la comunicazione a terzi di dati sensibili può configurare un illecito penale ai sensi dell'art. 167 del D.lgs. n. 196 del 2003.

Si allega fotocopia del passaporto quale documento d'identità.

Distintamente, Giulio Zambon

 _--_|\   Giulio Zambon    http://zambon.com.au/
/      \  ..address removed..
\_.--._/  ..telephone numbers removed..
      v   An old phart (spelling intended)

Still for the benefit of the Italian readers, you can download a model letter in RTF format from the website of the Italian Union of Atheist and Rationalist Agnostics (Unione degli Atei e degli Agnostici Razionalisti, www.uaar.it), where you will also find a full description of the sbattezzo.

As these applications must normally be sent via registered mail with acknowledgment of receipt, I didn’t entirely expect to receive a reply. But I was pleasantly surprised by the efficiency of the diocese when a few weeks later I found in my letterbox the following letter:

It is a notarised copy of the letter sent by the diocese to my parish authorising (SI AUTORIZZA) the parson to write on the margin of my christening act that I no longer want to belong to the Catholic Church. It states that, as a result of my request, I can no longer act as a godfather in ceremonies of christening and confirmation, I will need an authorisation if I want to marry in the church, I am excluded from catholic funeral rites unless I show signs of repentance, I cannot take sacraments, and that I have been excommunicated latae sententiae (passed sentence).

I believe that a similar procedure is also possible in Belgium and France, and that in Germany and Switzerland the religion is recorded by the state.

No comments:

Post a Comment