Increasing numbers of Italians are expressing a desire to leave the Catholic faith. The Italian daily Il Giornale recently reported that the diocese of Milan received over 200 requests to leave the church in the first five months of 2009, already equal the total number received in 2008. Those seeking to officially sever their ties to the church must complete a request form and give it to a local priest, who forwards it to Vatican authorities. ‘As a pastor, I worry and suffer every time I have to sign, as I did this morning, when I signed five or six of these requests', said Luigi Manganini, a priest in Milan. Manganini called the trend of so-called debaptisms ‘worrying' because the majority of requests have come from Catholics between 40 and 50 years old.
He explained that ‘It is out of the question to speak of "debaptism", since baptism is an irreversible sacrament for he who believes, and cannot be erased in any way. In the case of an explicit request of someone wanting a certificate to abandon the Catholic faith, the church limits itself to writing this in the registries where the act of baptism was recorded', the cleric stressed. According Maganini, priests are encouraged to speak with those who seek to leave the church and enjoin them to rethink their decision.
Applicants, however, rarely do so, Manganini claims, even though once separated from the church, the person is prohibited from participating in its sacraments, including a funeral mass in a Catholic church.