Saturday, April 17, 2010


Dear Catholic Church: Excommunicate Me - An Open Letter

by Paul Constant
Apr 6, 2010

Bishop Richard Malone
c/o Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland
510 Ocean Avenue, P.O. 11559
Portland, Maine 04104

I am addressing this letter to you because my entire life as a Catholic took
place in Maine. I was baptized into the Catholic Church at St. Matthew in
Limerick a few weeks after my birth in 1976. And I was confirmed 16 years
later at St. Anne's in Gorham.

Even though I have never believed in God or the afterlife or anything else
that Catholics profess, I did get confirmed in the church of my own free
will, and though every baptized human being is supposedly a "full Catholic"
at the moment of baptism, the consensual sacrament of confirmation*
supposedly, in the words of the church, "renders the bond with the church
more perfect."

My father, Joseph Constant, worked his whole life, adored his wife for 45
years, and loved us no matter what. And I decided when I was 16 that as long
as I was living under his roof, I would continue to be a full member of his
church. He wanted to meet us again one day in heaven, and he believed that
there was only one way to do that: by believing in the One Holy Catholic and
Apostolic Church. My confirmation was a tribute to him, but it only went so
far: After I struck out on my own, I lived as an atheist.

But I suppose that, technically at least, I'm a Catholic, one of the
millions of Catholics whom American bishops profess to lead and, when the
church inserts itself into our political process, claim to speak for.

Today, Bishop Malone, I am demanding that you excommunicate me. I cannot in
good conscience belong to your church anymore; I do not want to be counted
with the 200,000 Catholics in Maine, or the 68,115,001 Catholics in the
United States of America, or the 1.1 billion Catholics in the world.

I have been watching the events of the last few weeks with horror. The pope
(an ex-Hitler Youth whom your fellow bishops used to refer to, lovingly, as
"God's rottweiler") whined during a Palm Sunday homily about what he called
"petty gossip." That "petty gossip" is a tsunami of reports of child rape
perpetrated by Catholic priests across the globe and attempts by bishops,
archbishops, cardinals, and the pope himself to cover up that child rape by
moving ordained rapists to new parishes where they could, and did, rape
again. That "petty gossip" includes one case in which the pope halted an
internal investigation of a Catholic priest in Wisconsin who is alleged to
have raped more than 200 deaf boys.

And then, on March 30, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and
Civil Rights placed an ad in the New York Times dismissively accusing the
Times of "looking for dirt" that "occurred a half-century ago" and saying
that the church's "pedophilia crisis" has "all along" been a "homosexual
crisis." He accused the Times of flogging this story to further a
progressive agenda that includes "abortion, gay marriage, and women's

I demand to be excommunicated because I do not believe women are
second-class citizens. I demand to be excommunicated because your
missionaries are informing impoverished citizens of third-world countries
that birth control is a sin when it is in fact the single most important
thing they could do to gain some small amount of control over their economic
situation and health. I demand to be excommunicated because your church has
become a hate group as virulent as any this world has ever seen, one that is
unnaturally obsessed with the sex lives of good men and women across the
planet. I demand to be excommunicated because I do not condone child rape or
the concealment of child rape.

You might ask, Bishop Malone, what my father will think of all this. Joseph
Constant died on August 20, 2009, after a long battle with acute pulmonary
fibrosis. The sacrament for the sick gave him great comfort at the end, and
I thanked the priest for administering it. But then, at a mass that was
dedicated in Joseph's name in September, instead of a homily about how
Joseph lived the kind of life that other Catholics should emulate-generous,
faithful, good, true-the priest showed a video. You came on the screen that
had been set up on the altar (as you did in all the other Catholic churches
across Maine that weekend), and my family was forced to watch as you gave a
hate-filled lecture about why Maine's pending gay marriage law must not be
allowed to come into force, and then you had every church under your control
pass the collection plate a second time solely to collect funds to fight
marriage equality. (Thanks in large part to the Catholic Church's
efforts-efforts that included threats to remove charitable Catholic
organizations from the state if the law was approved-gay marriage remains
illegal in Maine. You must be so proud.) You took an occasion intended to
celebrate my father's life and spoiled it with hate speech.

And so it is with deep personal satisfaction, sir, that I say-and I'll put
it so you can understand it-to hell with you, Bishop Malone. To hell with
your church. To hell with the pope, especially. If you think the Catholic
God actually smiles down on you from heaven for your hatefulness, then to
hell with that God, too. I renounce your church, your God, and your
traditions. I will not be a part of any organization that welcomes and
comforts hatemongers, child rapists, or you.

I demand that you excommunicate me immediately and that you send me
confirmation as soon as possible that you have expunged me from the roster
of the Catholic Church.

Paul Constant
c/o The Stranger
1535 11th Avenue, Third Floor
Seattle, Washington 98122

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