This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Thursday 13 August 2020

How to be a Catholic

Many readers have written to me, saying, "I'm just an ordinary sort of guy, who would quite like to be a priest/Pope/President of the USA/lion-tamer/serial killer/celebrity chef and I feel it would improve my career possibilities if I were a Catholic. Can you help me?"

Pope and Biden

How many Catholics can you count in this photo?

Now, it is surprisingly easy to be a cradle Catholic, as Fr James Martin points out. First, your parents must own a cradle, and put you in it. Next, you are taken along to a church, and baptised in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. You can sleep through the whole sacrament, if you wish to.

Also, even some non-Catholic baptisms are valid (e.g. the Anglican version): the important thing is to get the form of words right, so that, for example, the following are invalid:

  • Welcome to the Calumny Chapel, brother Bosco! You is now saved.
  • We baptise you in the name of the great Pachamama.
  • I bap... oh dear I've dropped little Jorge in the river. Watch out for those piranha fish!
Anyway, if you want to be a Catholic, and not have to worry about it again, then it's best to get a Catholic baptism. Otherwise you have to convert later, and Austen Ivereigh will describe you as "neurotic".

Martin v Tobin

See? That was easy.

But how do I stop being a Catholic?

This is not as easy as it sounds. You can do almost anything you like, and nobody will turn a hair. Yes, yes, there is excommunication latae sententiae, and that even includes apostates, heretics, and schismatics, but nobody important is going to speak out and say you are no longer a Catholic (except for special cases such as Queen Elizabeth I).

Other things you can do to be excommunicated l.s. include hitting the Pope (so that Chinese girl was wise not to retaliate when he slapped her), and procuring an abortion (on the other hand, facilitating thousands of abortions is permitted). Watch out, if you are a bishop, as ordaining someone without permission is also an offence. It's not clear whether laymen can ordain people without permission.

Nicholas v Arius

Slapping heretics is allowed.

But let's be realistic, if Fr James Martin LGBTSJ and the blessed Joseph Biden are in no danger of excommunication, you can be Catholic in any way you like. Strictly speaking, Catholics should do saved person stuff once in a while - prayers, Mass, Confession, reading this blog, ... but you'd be surprised how many Top Catholics simply don't bother!


  1. In the first photo, there MIGHT be two but they can hardly be seen behind Pope Francis and that other guy, whoever he is, next to him.

  2. As I was taught (admittedly long ago), more important for baptism even than getting the form of words right is that the water must 'flow' (i.e. like the River Jordan). My good (convert) grandmother explained that this meant two drops (at least) must coalesce. (Protestant) 'sprinkling' could not guarantee this.

  3. Can't you just baptise yourself these days - 'I baptise me in the name of Me, Me and Me'?

  4. It's surprisingly difficult to stop being a Catholic formally. I knew a chap once who developed militant atheism, and he became very angry at the thought that he had been baptised. He said it was child abuse, because no-one had asked his permission beforehand, him being only a few months old and all. He treated us to a blow-by-blow account of his tanglings with an uncomprehending hierarchy, who couldn't understand why he didn't just stop coming to Mass like any sensible atheist. His demands to have his baptism physically erased from the register or registers (he hated the idea that Rome might have a record of him squirrelled away somewhere in a database such as the Mormons have) left them simply bemused; you can't communicate satisfactorily someone who thinks there is no such thing as a soul, for starters. Sadly I left the forum at this stage and never knew how it all ended.