Wanderley Massafelli/Photcall Ireland

Website that helps people leave the Catholic Church to cease operations

Over 12,000 people downloaded a Declaration of Defection from, but changes to canon law have made it difficult for the site to operate, a founder says.

ONE OF THE founders of a website that provided information and assistance to people who wished to officially leave the Catholic Church has said that the site will close, because formal rules for leaving the church are so hard to navigate. was established in 2009, offering visitors a Declaration of Defection form that could be mailed to a local parish priest. An annotation would then be added to a person’s baptismal certificate, thereby formally severing a persons ties with Catholicism.

Over 12,000 of the forms were downloaded from the site, but an official change to canon law in 2009 has made it impossible to formally defect from the church. The Archdiocese of Dublin said that it will maintain a register of those who have expressed an interest in defecting.

However, without the baptismal certificate annotation, the group says that the register is irrelevant.

Paul Dunbar, one of three people who had founded the CountMeOut website, said that trying to find ways around the 2009 decision by Pope Benedict XVI to abolish formal defection was like “repeatedly hitting our head against a brick wall”.

“We can’t get a meaningful answer from anyone in the Catholic Church, so we’ve decided to cease operations.”

Dunbar says that even since defection was abolished, many people have visited the website, mailed the owners and “reflected on their own relationship with the Catholic Church.”

“The campaign proved very successful in the early stages and generated a lot of debate.

As a group, we felt it was important for people to reflect on their relationship with the church and decide whether they could remain as a member.

“The website will remain live for a number of months as we feel the information available on the site may prove useful to some.”

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