Spanish court recognizes Catholics' right to leave church

Madrid, Spain - The Spanish judiciary has for the first time recognized the right of a Catholic to stop being a member of the church, radio reports said Thursday.

The National Court sided with a person who had taken the Valencia archbishop's office to court for refusing to cancel his baptism certificate.

The archbishopric had argued that baptism certificates were not files that could be cancelled and that they did not prove a person's ongoing membership in the Catholic Church.

The archbishopric's refusal violated the complainant's rights to protect personal data and his religious freedom, the court said, adding that it was legitimate for him to leave a record showing he did not consider himself a member of the Catholic Church.