suspends service


A website which helps disaffected Catholics renounce their membership of the church has temporarily suspended its services., which was set up last year in the wake of the Ryan report into clerical child sex abuse, said today the decision had been taken due to a “lack of clarity” regarding recent changes to the Code of Canon Law.

The website assists users in generating a “Declaration of Defection”, a church document that proclaims a person’s intent to defect from the Roman Catholic Church.

However, earlier this year the Church modified several elements of its canon law, removing all references to the act of formal defection.

The changes mean that the annotation of the baptismal register in response to a defection request no longer changes a person’s relationship with the Church.

Several would-be defectors have contacted the website in recent weeks to complain at the delay in the processing of their defection requests.

The website said some people had received responses from the Dublin Archdiocese, stating their application could not be processed until the church decided how to implement the canon law changes. said it had written to the Dublin Archdiocese on a number of occasions seeking clarification on the matter.

“Despite these requests, the Church have yet to reach a firm position on how or whether they will continue to accept requests for the annotation of the baptismal register,” it said in a statement today.

“We believe that, in principle, the withdrawal of the defection procedure has implications for a person’s right to freedom of religion and association.”

The website said its service would remain suspended until such time as the Church clarifies in full what changes will be introduced to defections.

There have been more than 12,000 downloads of the declaration of defection documentation since the website went live in July of last year.

Last year 229 people formally defected from the Church through the Archdiocese of Dublin and 312 have done so in the year to date, according to official figures.

In a statement issued this afternoon, the Archdiocese of Dublin said following the recent changes to canon law it will no longer be possible for individuals to formally defect from the church. However, it added that the Archdiocese intends to maintain a register to note the expressed desire of those who wish to defect.