Someone "recently ex-Catholic" replied to one of my articles and stated (in public), "The sacraments were very important in my life of faith, but . . . I realised that the church uses it's sacramental theology to make leaving the church for any reason whatsoever, impossible. Because of what the Eucharist is claimed to be, and because the hierarchy is the sole minister of it, we are expected to put up with literally anything from the church because we don't want to lose access to the sacraments."
This is factually erroneous, in at least three ways:
1) The Catholic Church accepts the validity of non-Catholic trinitarian baptism. This means that she believes that any person so baptized was regenerated, received all the baptismal benefits, and is truly incorporated into the Body of Christ and fully entitled to the description of "Christian." This was taught as far back as St. Augustine, in his dealings with the schismatic and puritanistic Donatists. What is not so widely known is that this teaching was reiterated at the Council of Trent. It was not some supposed "innovation" at Vatican II:
If anyone says that the baptism which is given by heretics in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, with the intention of doing what the Church does, is not true baptism, let him be anathema. (Council of Trent, 7th Session)
All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians… (Vatican II, Unitatis Redintegratio)
2) The Catholic Church recognizes the validity of all seven sacraments in Eastern Orthodoxy. It is also the case that the Holy Eucharist may possibly be validly consecrated in some specific non-Catholic, non-Orthodox situations; particularly when it involves a priest who was ordained by the Catholic Church or Orthodox Church, but then becomes a Protestant. I have a personal friend who was ordained as an Orthodox priest, then left and is in one of the breakaway Anglican denominations. As far as I know, he would validly consecrate the elements, having been validly ordained as a priest: a power which cannot be removed except by express decree of the Church. People receiving Holy Communion from him would, thus, receive the Real Presence and Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ.
3) The Church also recognizes as truly sacramental, the marriage of two non-Catholic Christians who marry (minus divorce scenarios, etc.).
That is all kinds of "sacramental availability" outside of the formal membership of the Catholic Church (even up to all seven in the case of Orthodoxy).
Then the person went off in another direction by claiming that after "leaving the sacraments" his "faith has only grown deeper." This, of course, strongly implies that sacraments are unnecessary in the first place. Then why complain about them at all? It's a weird version of "sour grapes" I reckon. It's certainly not rational thinking. Then (very typically of theological liberalism or heterodoxy) he takes it upon himself to redefine the very terms "Eucharist" and "transubstantiation." This is massive confusion and incoherence mixed with a cynical and unethical willingness to falsely accuse the entire Catholic Church. It's not right, and it's not true.
I submit that even in our postmodernist mush age, where everything is now subjective, that we can still, nevertheless, at least attempt to rationally and calmly discuss whether a specific claim about alleged facts is true or not. If that is now to be deemed "imprudence" then it is. So be it. If I have planted a seed, it is one of knowledge that we can still rationally discuss factual matters and all be on common ground. A false assertion was made regarding the Catholic Church and her relationship to sacraments (physical means of obtaining grace). I think I showed that it was false.