How to defect from the Catholic Church

Jimi Kavanagh, confirmed heathen

After many years of being told it was impossible (despite the good work of the people over at countmeout), it would appear that the Catholic Church – or at the very least, the diocese of Ferns – are once again accepting requests to formally leave or “defect”. My own request was confirmed this week. There follows a simple, 3 step guide on how you can do the same.

1. Get the info together

To defect, you’ll need a little bit of information, specifically the date and location of your baptism. That aside, there’s nothing complicated required., just the usual name, date of birth etc. that is of course strictly protected under GDPR. More on that in another article, later this year.

2. Fill in the Declaration of Defection

As forms go, once you get past the Latin preamble, it’s fairly straightforward. Download from the below link, print it out, fill it in, sign it, and then scan it back to yourself. If, like me, you wanted to be absolutely sure it gets where it needs to go, you could always post a copy too.

3. Work out where to send it

Now you have your place of baptism and your paperwork ready, you need to email it to the diocese in which you were baptized. If you’re not sure where that is, the map below should help clear it up.

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Below is the administrative email address for every Catholic diocesan office in Ireland.

DioceseEmail address
Ardagh & Clonmacnoise[email protected]
Derry[email protected]
Down & Connor[email protected]
Dromore[email protected]
Armagh[email protected]
Clogher[email protected]
Achonry[email protected]
Elphin[email protected]
Kilmore[email protected]
Kerry[email protected]
Cork & Ross[email protected]
Cloyne[email protected]
Limerick[email protected]
Cashel & Emly[email protected]
Ossory[email protected]
Ferns[email protected] 
Kildare and Leighlin[email protected]
Killaloe[email protected]
Raphoe[email protected]
Galway, Kilmacduagh & Kilfenora[email protected]
Clonfert[email protected]
Dublin[email protected]
Meath[email protected]
Tuam[email protected]
Waterford & Lismore[email protected]
Killala[email protected]

4. Await a response.

To their credit, in my recent request to defect, the diocese of Ferns were prompt in response, in that I only had to wait a week. Hopefully this will be the case for you as well.

If you’ve found this guide or the information within helpful, please share it far and wide.

Jimi Kavanagh is the editor-in-chief of You can get in touch with him by email here, or by following him on twitter.

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