Catholic AnswerBecause God calls certain men to serve His Church and His people. They are "alter Christus" other Christs. They serve as His hands, feet, mouth, etc. When the priest says "This is my Body" and "This is my Blood" he is speaking for Our Blessed Lord. When he forgives sins in the confessional, he says, "And I absolve you in the name of..." We have priests because God gives them to us.
== == Answer First, be certain that you do actually want to become Protestant. Make sure that you have identified all the things that you are unhappy with as a Catholic. If necessary make a list. Then do two things. First, speak to your Catholic priest and ask him to discuss the issues you are troubled by - don't necessarily tell him you may have to leave the church and give him the opportunity to advise you on what's troubling you. Second, take you list to a Protestant clergyman. Ask to speak personally with him to discuss your concerns. Once you have spoken to both comes the hard bit. Now you must pray to God for guidance and you must trust in the way you are led. One other thing, be aware that within Protestantism there are very wide differences of belief and practice. For example in Anglicanism you will find a whole range of practices similar to Catholicism. Generally speaking there is little similarity with Catholic practice in the Baptist or Methodist churches. Answer A way to convert is how my Grandfather did. He left the Catholic Church and began going to a Protestant church and then was baptized as an adult. Also we aren't disgraced Catholics our way of worshiping is different but our God is the same as is our faith, the Catholic way isn't the only way. Leaving the Church of one's youth is a huge step: a Catholic may be disappointed, perplexed, or frustrated with someone or something within the Church, or they may be weary of temptation and tribulation. Whatever the reason, or reasons, when anyone is considering undertaking a big step such as this, isn't prayer always the best first recourse throughout the entire process? "Do whatever He tells you" (John 2:5) were the words of the Blessed Virgin Mary to some friends who were in perplexity. Mary lovingly encouraged these people to go to Jesus and ask for His help and direction. Catholics - even Catholics thinking of leaving the Church - still go to Mary His Mother to seek her loving guidance and encouragement, which is still always, "Do whatever He tells you." She is still your mother, and will guide and inspire you to approach Jesus to seek His will . . . even if a part of you may believe that you can't, or that you already did, or that you don't know how, or that you're not sure you want to. "Do whatever He tells you." Go to Mary in prayer. Seek her motherly advice and counsel. Implore her assistance to find the way to Jesus. Listen to what she says. This would be a first step for any Catholic facing a life-changing decision. A person may simply go to another church. If he/she decides to join another denomination e.g. Methodist, then they are no longer considered to be a Catholic. This possibility is recognised by the Catholic Church. In its canons regarding marriage number 1124 states: "Without express permission of the competent authority, a marriage is prohibited between two baptized persons of whom one is baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it after baptism and has not defected from it by a formal act and the other of whom is enrolled in a Church or ecclesial community not in full communion with the Catholic Church." The fact Canon Law recognises that a person may defect from the Catholic Church by a formal act (e.g. joining another church) clearly indicates that a person may leave. Having said this, there is no one "Protestant religion"; rather there are hundreds of different denominations, and they believe a wide variety of things e.g. Baptists believe in the literal reading of the Bible (God did make the Universe in 6 days and evolution is incorrect); Pentecostalists believe it is important to speak in tongues (which Baptists condemn); Calvinists believe that human beings are totally corrupt while Methodists do not; Anglicans believe that only ordained clergy may celebrate the sacraments while members of the Salvation Army don't have sacraments; and Christian Scientists believe illness can be cured by faith (no need for doctors).
At one time all Catholic nuns adopted a new name, perhaps patterned after a saint they wished to emulate and they usually took "Mary" as their second name. The practice of taking a new name is now optional, some orders continue it, but many do not, so its common now to see a name like "Sister Barbara Jones".
Roman Catholic AnswerExcommunication is a disciplinary matter intended to heal the offender. It is expressly for the purpose of bringing a sinful person to repentance. Excommunication is cutting a person off from receiving Holy Communion, they are still bound to attend Mass. A priest, obviously, can not celebrate Mass as he has to receive Holy Communion to complete the Mass. It is a grave matter but it does not have anything to do with a person's judgment by God as to whether he is deserving of heaven or hell. In Martin Luther's case, he was a morbid and depressed person who had a problem with the truth. He had tried to deal with his depression by being overly scrupulous and when this brought him no relief, he lashed out at the Church, thinking that they were the cause of his problems. Below is the actual incident, if you should like to read the whole history, I have provided the appropriate link below.
Luther the reformer had become Luther the revolutionary; the religious agitation had become a political rebellion. Luther's theological attitude at this time, as far as a formulated cohesion can be deduced, was as follows:
•The Bible is the only source of faith; it contains the plenary inspiration of God; its reading is invested with a quasi-sacramental character.
•Human nature has been totally corrupted by original sin, and man, accordingly, is deprived of free will. Whatever he does, be it good or bad, is not his own work, but God's.
•Faith alone can work justification, and man is saved by confidently believing that God will pardon him. This faith not only includes a full pardon of sin, but also an unconditional release from its penalties.
•The hierarchy and priesthood are not Divinely instituted or necessary, and ceremonial or exterior worship is not essential or useful. Ecclesiastical vestments, pilgrimages, mortifications, monastic vows, prayers for the dead, intercession of saints, avail the soul nothing.
•All sacraments, with the exception of baptism, Holy Eucharist, and penance, are rejected, but their absence may be supplied by faith.
•The priesthood is universal; every Christian may assume it. A body of specially trained and ordained men to dispense the mysteries of God is needless and a usurpation.
•There is no visible Church or one specially established by God whereby men may work out their salvation.
The emperor is appealed to in his three primary pamphlets, to destroy the power of the pope, to confiscate for his own use all ecclesiastical property, to abolish ecclesiastical feasts, fasts, and holidays, to do away with Masses for the dead, etc. In his "Babylonian Captivity", particularly, he tries to arouse national feeling against the papacy, and appeals to the lower appetite of the crowd by laying down a sensualized code of matrimonial ethics, little removed from paganism, which "again come to the front during the French Revolution" (Hagen, "Deutsche literar. u. religiöse Verhaltnisse", II, Erlangen, 1843, 235). His third manifesto, "On the Freedom of a Christian Man", more moderate in tone, though uncompromisingly radical, he sent to the pope.
In April, 1520, Eck appeared in Rome, with the German works, containing most of these doctrines, translated into Latin. They were submitted and discussed with patient care and critical calmness. Some members of the four consistories, held between 21 May and 1 June, counselled gentleness and forbearance, but those demanding summary procedure prevailed. The Bull of excommunication, "Exsurge Domine", was accordingly drawn up 15 July. It formally condemned forty-one propositions drawn from his writings, ordered the destruction of the books containing the errors, and summoned Luther himself to recant within sixty days or receive the full penalty of ecclesiastical punishment.
There is no way to stop being Catholic. When our Blessed Lord founded the Catholic Church, He made baptism the official entry into it. Baptism permanently and indelibly changes the soul making one a Christian for all eternity and there is no way to efface that.
One could stop going to Mass and confession, but then one just becomes a non-practicing Catholic. If one joins another Church, synagogue, or mosque or such, one becomes an apostate Catholic, but remains a Catholic.