The Foolish Grave Sin of de-baptism

BBC News reports that some Catholics in Italy are undergoing a de-baptism to express their disagreement with Catholic teaching. What does this mean? Is it possible to remove the effects of the Sacrament of Baptism from the soul?

The Sacrament of Baptism has several good effects on the human person. It removes the stain of original sin, confers sanctifying grace on the soul, infuses the virtues of love, faith, hope, and other virtues, and places an indelible mark on the soul. This Sacrament initiates the recipient into the one true Church, making him or her a member and providing access to the other Sacraments.

Can baptism be removed from the soul? First of all, the indelible mark remains on the soul forever. Confirmation and Holy Orders are the only other two Sacraments which also make a mark on the soul that is indelible. None of these three marks, whichever ones have been received by a particular individual, can ever be removed. If a baptized Christian, or a baptized and confirmed Catholic, or a Catholic priest should unfortunately die unrepentant from actual mortal sin, they will be sent to Hell to suffer forever. But they will still have the respective indelible marks on their souls.

On the other hand, some of the effects of the Sacrament of Baptism are, in a sense, removable. The state of grace, given at Baptism, is taken away by any actual mortal sin. Until the person repents and is forgiven by God, they lack the state of grace and lack the infused virtues of love and hope. Such a person might still retain the virtue of faith, unless the actual mortal sin gravely offends against faith (e.g. the sin of apostasy). The state of grace is lost by any actual mortal sin.

Even so, the soul is not returned to a state of original sin by the commission of any actual mortal sin. The soul instead enters a state of mortal sin, which is comparable to original sin, in that both lack sanctifying grace. But many persons in the state of mortal sin still retain the infused virtue of faith, which is lacking in those who have not yet been cleansed of original sin by baptism.

What happens when foolish Catholics (or any baptized Christians) attempt a ceremony of de-baptism? Such a ceremony has no effect in and of itself; it does not have any power whatsoever to remove the Sacrament of Baptism. However, if an adult knowingly chooses to commit this grave offense against God and against the Sacrament of Baptism, by undergoing such a ceremony, he commits an objective mortal sin. The act is gravely contrary to faith and morals, and sins against religion are among the most serious sins.

Whether or not such an act is an actual mortal sin depends on the conscience of the individual. A gravely disordered act must be committed with full knowledge of its grave immorality and full deliberation to be an actual mortal sin. God is the judge of the soul.

This sin of de-baptism is also offensive to God as the sin of scandal. The persons who have devised and who promote this act of grave immorality are harming many persons by their bad example. May God correct them.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and
translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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