John McCarthy Office of the Chancellor 134 Farmington Avenue Hartford, CT 06105-3784 Dear Monsignor, This letter is to inform you of my defection from the Roman Catholic Church. I was born on the island of Hawai’i on September 4, 1976, and was baptized at Holy Infant Church, Orange, Connecticut, in or around 1985. My reasons for defection are multiple and longstanding. I do not adhere to the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene. I reject the authority of the papacy and the Magisterium. I see the doctrine of original sin as risible and anti-life, and the threat of torture in Hell as more befitting a sadistic bully than any sort of loving, omnipotent creator. Having studied the history of our world and of the world’s religions, I find no convincing apologetic for the Catholic Church’s exceptionalism (or, indeed, that of any church or religion), no reason to place Jehovah on different footing than the other bloodthirsty old gods, and no argument to support Jesus’ being any more or less a divine fragment of the infinite than you or I (or Osiris or Dionysus or Balder, if you look at it on a slightly different angle). I have not entered a Catholic (or any other) church as a believing worshipper for over twenty years. I have never tithed, as it’s been clear to me even in childhood that the Church’s finances were in far better shape than those of my family or anyone we knew. My time as an after-school catechumen exposed me to closed minds, authoritarian attitudes, and none of the charity or wisdom I’d expected and hoped for, having been brought up in part by my loving and devout Catholic grandmother, Irene Comeau. I have not taken Communion, as my First Communion was never moved forward on while I was still attending services and instruction, and will not take it now, nor profess beliefs I do not share, out of respect for those who sincerely believe in its truth and power. Theology aside, I would defect even were I a believer still. The Church’s behavior over the years has more suited the tenets of Mammon than the Sermon on the Mount. Most recently, there is the opposition of Connecticut’s Catholic hierarchy to the removal of the statute of limitations on prosecutions for sexual abuse. This is an abhorrent stance, naked in its hubris and disregard for the terrible harm caused to the victims of these crimes, and tantamount to open admission that the Church is ridden with abusers who will be protected from punishment at any cost. The Church has acted, and continues to act, in ways that suppress our understanding of the beautiful and mysterious Universe in which we exist, our enjoyment thereof, and our ability to share in its bounty absent the intrusion of royal, governmental, or clerical authority. It has abetted the most brutal rulers (Albania’s Hoxha, Haiti’s Duvalier, and the Ustase government in Croatia are three that come to mind from the recent past) and acted against the interests of the poor, of the suffering, and the disenfranchised. For every Father Damian, selflessly devoting his life to the sufferers of Hansen’s disease, there are multiple Father Coughlins and Mother Teresas, spreading racial hatred or refusing to provide adequate palliative care*. As I’ve grown and studied and learned, I have moved from belief to ecumenicism to universalism to agnosticism to atheism, and have not been shy about sharing my beliefs or the thought processes that cause me to hold them. In this process of learning and exploration it’s been my experience that humans are good all over the world in even proportions, regardless of religion or lack thereof (except in cases where a church’s worldly powers have moved them toward intolerance, mental slavery, or violence); that there is no religious

basis for morality (statistics comparing behavior and religiosity in the United States bear this out; besides, fear of punishment as a basis for moral behavior is better suited to whipped dogs and battered children than loving human beings) and that Kindness, Compassion, and the Golden Rule (found universally and not at all unique to Christianity or the Catholic variety thereof) do more to improve the life of this world we all share than any Papal Bull, Index Librorum Prohibitorum, or Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It is for these and other reasons that I now ask you to strike me from the list of Roman Catholic adherents, lapsed or otherwise. I have made this decision - unilaterally, irrevocably, and finally - in sound mind after years of deliberation, meditation, and study. I appreciate the meaning and gravity of my decision and its ramifications, and I hereby affirm that I have no desire to participate in the Catholic sacraments, including Last Rites and funeral services. Please remove me from any and all rolls, rosters, mailing lists, and the like; if the record can not be excised then I request it be redacted. I apologize for not being more exact when specifying the date of my baptism, but I don’t imagine the records would be too hard to find; they may be filed under “Mirto” as that is my mother’s remarried surname. I would also appreciate confirmation of this letter’s receipt, as such would save me an extra stamp and save you and your staff the annoyance of receiving more letters from me. Please do not take this as a personal rebuke, unless you’re one of those behind the aforementioned initiative protecting abusive clergy at the expense of justice for their victims**. I have nothing against individual Catholics (or those of any other community of faith or shared philosophy) except when they pursue intolerant or otherwise injurious courses of action, and even in these cases I try first to understand their motivations and give the benefit of the doubt; it is best for all, I think, when we can concentrate on our common and universal humanity, regardless of creed or origin, rather than focusing on divisive trivia in ways that only reinforce injustice. Some of my most cherished heroes and role models are devout Catholic believers: people like the aforementioned Father Damian; the Berrigans, who stood for peace in the face of the world’s mightiest war machine; Dorothea Dix, who advocated tirelessly for the lowest of the low in her society, the unchampioned and indigent mentally ill; Father Ted Crilly, whose lessons on tolerance, responsibility, and redemption as an imperfect human being are only slightly blunted by his fictional status. Similarly, I know for a fact that the Catholic Charities organization in the United States is an invaluable source of relief for the needy, in an ostensibly Christian country noted for its lack of charity and compassion, and I’m sure there are thousands of other devout Catholics doing good works across the world - just as there are Jewish, Muslim, Orthodox, Sikh, Bahai, Taoist, Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto, Yezidi, Mormon, Zoroastrian, traditional animist, pagan reconstructionist, atheist, and even Protestant believers doing good works in their communities. However, I can no longer in good conscience retain ties to an organization whose dogma I disagree with and whose other actions, and the motivations driving them, I find inimical. It is my understanding that common procedure in these procedures involves requesting a meeting with the defector. As I live in Chicago, this may not be possible anytime soon, and in any case the chances of your gaining a heartfelt recantation are nil. However, if you or any other representative of the Archdiocese of Hartford or the greater Church is in the area and would like to meet up over coffee or beer to discuss life, the beautiful Universe we share, and the common ground we find in working to make it better for all through kindness, compassion, and forbearance, I’d be glad to buy the first round***. Peace,

Jesse Dorje Irwin

3524 W Lyndale St #2 Chicago, IL 60647

* because, in her words, the suffering “brings them closer to Christ,” though this didn’t stop her from jetting to the best Western clinics for her ailments; besides, she saw her main mission as fighting against contraception and abortion in the midst of catastrophically overpopulated Kolkata ** in which case I invite you to perform the obscene and impossible, as it were *** believe it or not, there is a New Haven-style apizza place here on the North Side whose pies I would place on par with Sally’s or Pepe’s; they also brew their own delicious beers