Dear Ms. Slawkenbergius,
I have heard from my daughter today about today's history class and some curious digressions that took place therein. I would like to assume that my daughter has skewed the details somewhat, but in the case that she might be accurate, I thought I would send along a few little notes that may help clear up some matters.
First, My daughter believes that you believe or are teaching that the single biggest cause of war in the history of the world is religion, or that most wars are cuased by religion. I would like you to elaborate and clear up this matter a little: Exactly which wars were caused purely and simply by religion? I freely admit that religion played a role in many wars, but are they enough to consitute the single biggest cause of war, or to be the cause of most wars? Looking back on my time of study in history, admittedly Eurocentric, I find the wars of Greece I find the Trojan War, Persian invasion of Greece, the various wars of the Greek city states, culminating in the Pelopennesian war, the wars of Philip, followed by the wars of Alexander,- None of which were even remotely religious in character. We can follow them up with the various and eternal wars of Rome- The First, Second and Third Punic Wars, the Jugurthine War, the Gallic Wars, the Jewish Wars, the Wars on the Iberian peninsula, and the conquest of Britain, the invasions of Germany, Trajan's capture of the Persian Empire, the invasion of Attila, the destruction of Western Roman Empire by the Ostrogoths and Visigoths. Not a single one of them was remotely religious. We come to the long centuries of war in the Middle Ages, where one Christian King fought another over who owned what piece of dirt. Not religious. The Invasion of the Mongol Hordes, The unification of Europe under Charlemagne, The Viking Invasions, the Battle of Hastings, Muslim invasions of the Eastern Empire, resulting in the Crusades- I'll get to that one below-, The Hundred Years War, the Thirty Years War, the War of the Roses., The Civil War (British), the Seven Years War, The American Revolutionary War, the French Revolutionary wars, including the genocide of the Vendee, the Wars of 1812, The Civil War (American), the Franco Prussian War, the First World War, The Second World War, the Korean War, the Viet Nam War, the Cold War. A few - the revolutionary wars (until Napolean took over) and the American Civil war, were ideological wars, but not religious in any way. The rest of these were invasions and responses to invasions and wars over territory, trade, and money, launched by kings, emperors and even democratic governments who felt their own land and goods too small and too few, and coveted that of their neighbours.
The only one which seems to be a religious war would be the Crusades. Thus the star witness for those who make this claim, that religion is the single greatest cause of war in history, comes onstage and takes its bow. Unfortunately, for anyone familiar with the history, these wars were not entirely religious, no matter how the leaders dressed themselves in the cloth of the 'holy' war. They were caused by Muslims invading the Eastern Empire, and taking its land and wealth as their own, until the Emperor called for help from the rest of Christendom. It was fought by armies largely composed of second sons and other landless men who signed up in the hope of getting a name and taking the Muslim land and wealth as their own. In short, it was a land grab in response to a land grab. Further wars involving muslims and Christians fighting over who owned this land or that were just that- about the land and who controlled it.
As I said, my daughter only said she believes that you believe that religion is the single greatest cause of war, and was a little thin on evidence. Perhaps she is mistaken. However, if she is not, then perhaps you are familiar with some other area of history that lies outside my knowledge. in which there were religious wars. I hope, however, that she is mistaken in this impression, as I would be loathe to think a history teacher, whether in a Catholic school or not, would limit their knowledge of history to the diatribes found in a Christopher Hitchens book. The claim that has become so common now, that religion is the single biggest cause of war and death throughout history, is particularly risible in the twenty first century, as we have just lived through a century wherein the first specifically godless form of government in human history killed more people than every 'religious' war, crusade and inquisition ever launched.
Secondly, again assuming my daughter did not mishear, to the young lady who claims that she wrote to the Pope asking to be excommunicated, and the others who wanted to know the address so they could write their own letters, they should be aware of this: you are wasting your time. The Pope cannot excommunicate you. I know most people think he can, but they are mistaken, as they are mistaken about much of the Catholic Church. Bishop Sheen once remarked that in America, there are not a hundred people who hate the Catholic Church, but millions who hate what they believe the Church to be, which is of course something completely different. Your students betray their ignorance, I am afraid, and it is regrettable that an ostensibly catholic education has failed to teach them otherwise, or anything. The only person who may excommunicate that girl is herself. She needs no writ from the Pope, and she has already done it. Wilfully denying the teachings of the Church is enough to incur Latae Sententiae excommunication, and needs no further recognition. To those who wondered if they could possibly get back into the Church following excommunication: it is easy enough: Go to confession.
There used to be another way of officially removing yourself form the church. You could have formally defected from the church. There were a few steps (from Jimmy Akin)
1) Decide to leave the Church (usually one decides to do this because of an overt act of heresy, apostasy, or schism)
2) Put this decision into effect
3) Show your decision by formally writing to the Ordinary (normally the bishop) or one’s pastor, and
4) Get the Ordinary or pastor to agree that you really have performed the requisite act of will to leave the Church described above and thus committed heresy, apostasy, or schism.
Your baptism registration would have been noted "DEFECT" and you would have gotten a copy of your baptism certificate from your church of baptism, with the word 'defect' stamped upon it. Returning to the Church after that is a little more complicated, but still doable. Though it should be noted that in 2009 The Motu Proprio Omnium in mentem removed the option to formally defect from the church. So all that is available and all one needs to do now is simply remove yourself from the Church by simply not going to church, and no longer calling yourself Catholic.
Thank you for your time. If I am wrong and have wasted your time, I apologize and am happy for it. If not, I hope this clears matters up.
PS.: Would you kindly ask the last Catholic to leave to the school system to please turn off the lights?