Can one be “de-baptized”?

Apparently thousands of French would like to be and one man is taking the Catholic Church to court. This NPR piece is interesting to me not so much for the trends (more people are not just leaving the church but wanting to remove all trace of connections to the church) but for the theological questions it brings up.

“One can’t be de-baptized,” says Rev. Robert Kaslyn, dean of the School of Canon Law at the Catholic University of America.

Kaslyn says baptism changes one permanently before the church and God.

“One could refuse the grace offered by God, the grace offered by the sacrament, refuse to participate,” he says, “but we would believe the individual has still been marked for God through the sacrament, and that individual at any point could return to the church.”

I am sure my protestant and Catholic friends will debate this far more eloquently than I. If one can “refuse the grace offered by God” then what is the permanent change that Kaslyn believes in? Would this be the case for purgatory, that such an individual is now and forever “marked as one of Christ’s own forever” whether they like it or not? The benefit of baptism would be that they get eternity to “work out their salvation”? Or what? I am beginning to think that I really am more ignorant than I realized regarding the theology of baptism…

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