Tom Roes is the man behind the website http://ontdopen.nl/, which translates to "de-baptise.nl." Roes said his website, which helps people download the documents needed to leave the Catholic church, has seen traffic spike from about 10 visits a day to more than 10,000 daily after the Pope's message.
If appears, Roes said, that thousands of Dutch Catholics are researching how they can leave the Catholic church in protest of its opposition to gay marriage. Roes clarified the process, saying:
Of course it's not possible to be "de-baptized" because a baptism is an event, but this way people can unsubscribe or de-register themselves as Catholics.Roes is a television director, and said he left the Catholic church and created his website partly because of anger about the way the church covered-up or downplayed sexual abuse occurring in Catholic orphanages, boarding schools and seminaries.
In his Christmas address this year, the Pope said that he sees gay marriage as a “manipulation of nature.” He added that gay marriage destroys 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. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves.In previous remarks, Pope Benedict XVI has said that gay marriage, like abortion and euthanasia, is a threat to world peace.
The population of the Netherlands is about 28 percent Catholic and 18 percent Protestant, while the largest proportion, approximately 44 percent, categorizes itself as non-religious, according to official statistics for the country.
It is unclear how many people use the information from Roes' website and actually leave the church.