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Dutch Catholics leaving church over opposition to same-sex marriage

A website that allows Dutch Catholics to formally leave the church has seen a massive spike in traffic following a controversial Christmas message by the Pope attacking same-sex marriage
St Peters Basilica in Rome
Photo: Andreas Tille

The creator of a Dutch website which facilitates people leaving the Catholic Church believes that recent comments by Pope Benedict XVI have sparked a spike in traffic to his website.

Benedict used a Christmas address to the Vatican bureaucracy to call same-sex marriage a ‘manipulation of nature’ that destroyed the ‘essence of the human creature.’

‘People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given to them by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being,’ Benedict said.

‘They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves.’

Benedict’s speech was not received well in Holland – the first country to legalize same-sex marriage - and the country’s foreign affairs minister, Frans Timmerman, slammed the comments.

'Why can Romeo marry Juliet but not Julius?’ Timmerman said earlier this month.

‘Marriage between two people of the same sex is having respect for the uniqueness of the individual.’

Since the comments, Ontdopen.nl website owner Tom Roes says traffic to his website, which automates the process of formally leaving the Catholic Church, has gone from ten hits per day to more than 10,000 in a day.

Ontdopen translates to ‘de-baptize’ in English.

‘This way people can unsubscribe or de-register themselves as Catholics,’ Roes told Reuters.

One a person has entered in all the details surrounding their baptism, the website generates a resignation letter which can be sent to the diocese and parish that their faith was recorded in and a Foundation for Inter-Church records.

Roes, a former Catholic who works as a television director, set up the website in response to sex abuse scandals in the Catholic church.

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