This sin of apostasy
|Julian the Apostate|
Apostasy is the only sin which severs the life of faith completely. Every other sin, even mortal sin, while injuring or destroying the bond of charity, does not remove faith. Thus, the sinner in the state of mortal sin (excluding apostasy) is still united to the Body of Christ through faith, though this union is in no way salvific, since the faith is dead (lacking love/charity).
Apostasy, on the other hand, completely severs the bond of faith and, by this sin, the individual is removed entirely from the Mystical Body. It is on account of the drastic consequences of this most grave sin that St. Paul strongly warned against apostasy in the Letter to the Hebrews 10:25, warning the community not to neglect “meeting together.”
The causes of apostasy
1) Some, says St. Thomas, withdraw from the Church by the sin of apostasy on account of persecutions. This occurred, for example, during the persecutions under the Roman Emperor Diocletian (303-305). Many Christians, including priests and bishops, abandoned the faith in order to be spared torture and execution.
2) Others, according to St. Thomas, abandon the faith through apostasy on account of wicked priests and bishops who leave the sheep in danger. This happened to some in the United States after the sexual abuse scandal broke. Seeing the great sins of priests and bishops, they despaired of the faith and apostatized.
3) Finally, St. Thomas points out a third cause of apostasy: pride. Some, he says, leave the Church and apostatize from Christianity on account of their pride; thinking themselves better than all the others, they desire to separate themselves from the rest.
A very good example of this pride would be the recent statement by Ms. Anne Rice: “Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to be ‘Christian’ or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”
A side note: Do you think a popular American author could publicly call Jews or Muslims a “deservedly infamous group” and get away with it? Is Christian-hating the last acceptable prejudice?