(NPR) Off The Record: A Quest For De-Baptism In France

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In France, an elderly man is fighting to make a formal break with the Catholic Church. He's taken the church to court over its refusal to let him nullify his baptism, in a case that could have far-reaching effects.

Seventy-one-year-old Rene LeBouvier's parents and his brother are buried in a churchyard in the tiny village of Fleury in northwest France. He himself was baptized in the Romanesque stone church and attended mass here as a boy.

LeBouvier says this rural area is still conservative and very Catholic, but nothing like it used to be. Back then, he says, you couldn't even get credit at the bakery if you didn't go to mass every Sunday....

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologySacramental TheologyBaptism

7 Comments
Posted January 30, 2012 at 5:21 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. TomRightmyer wrote:

I listened to this story yesterday on my way to serve at St. Andrew’s, Bessemer City, NC, off I-85 near the NC/SC line, and I can’t think what further steps the church could take.  I was reminded of Nicodemus’ question in John 3 when Jesus told him he must be born again.  The story appears to be of a bitter old and isolated man for whom we need to pray.

January 30, 8:50 am | [comment link]
2. Catholic Mom wrote:

I have no idea what “de-baptism” means, but apparently it means that the Church is to destroy all records that this guy was baptized in the first place.  Even in France, with its truly wacky laws, it’s hard to believe that the state can order an organization to engage in retro-active purges of the historical record.  “See—here’s a picture of Zinoviev standing next to Stalin—but now, look!  There’s nothing but blue sky next to Stalin because Zinoviev was NEVER EVEN BORN! Or baptized!

January 30, 10:36 am | [comment link]
3. Catholic Mom wrote:

Actually, Zinoviev never was baptized, because he was Jewish, but we wouldn’t know this or anything else about history if the people who keep the records were continually forced to alter them to suit the political correctness of the times.

January 30, 10:47 am | [comment link]
4. Terry Tee wrote:

I noted this in the article:  the pope preaching against condoms in AIDS-racked Africa.  This takes us a little off-piste, I know, but can any of you point to where, when and what was said, in this respect?  Because I cannot recall anything like that.

January 30, 4:16 pm | [comment link]
5. Ad Orientem wrote:

This man is just playing games.  The Roman Church doesn’t de-baptize because it can’t.  Anyone who wishes to stick their finger in Rome’s eye and formally proclaim their separation from the RCC needs to fill out a formal Declaration of Defection from
the Roman Catholic Church (Actus formalis defectionis ab Ecclesia catholica). 

Send copies to the diocese and the local parish priest as well as the parish where you were baptized.  There are sample copies of such a declaration that can be found on the internet by a simple Google search.  Personally I see no point, again unless your just interesting in putting fingers in eyes.  I certainly never felt the need to do this when I moved on.

January 30, 4:27 pm | [comment link]
6. Charles52 wrote:

This man has never left the Catholic Church. He carries it around with him constantly,  but as a terrible burden, not a healing joy. 

Should he win his cause, what will he do next to resolve his soul’s torment?

January 30, 8:41 pm | [comment link]
7. Charles52 wrote:

Fr. Tee -

He gave a similar message to African bishops who visited the Vatican in 2005, when he told them that abstinence and fidelity, not condoms, were the means to tackle the epidemic.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7947460.stm

I quoted that section from the middle of the article, but there is also this

HIV/Aids was, he argued, “a tragedy that cannot be overcome by money alone, that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which can even increase the problem”.

The solution lay, he said, in a “spiritual and human awakening” and “friendship for those who suffer”.

To a certain kind of mind, this turns into ‘‘preaching against condoms’‘.

January 30, 9:30 pm | [comment link]
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