According to the founder of a Dutch website which aims to offer information to those looking to leave the Catholic church, thousands of Catholics have been researching how to do so.

Tom Roes, who operates a website containing the documents required for members of the Catholic church to “deregister” themselves, said the number of visitors to the site went from around 10 a day to over 10,000, reported the Irish Times.

“Of course it’s not possible to be ‘de-baptised’ because a baptism is an event, but this way people can unsubscribe or deregister themselves as Catholics,” Mr Roes said.

He went on to say that he had no way of knowing how many people actually went on to leave the church after visiting his site, ontdopen.nl. 

Out of the population of the Netherlands, around 28% is Catholic, while roughly 44% is not religious. Reports suggest that 18% of the population is Protestant.

In his ‘World Day of Peace’ remarks last week, the Pope said: “There is also a need to acknowledge and promote the natural structure of marriage as the union of a man and a woman in the face of attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different types of union.
“Such attempts actually harm and help to destabilise marriage, obscuring its specific nature and its indispensable role in society”, the Pope told worshipers.

Pope Benedict XVI was also pictured giving a blessing to Rebecca Kadaga, the Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, who has promised to pass the country’s notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill as a “Christmas gift”.

On 26 December, a petition started to push Barack Obama to label to the Roman Catholic Church a “hate group”, following a similar petition to label the Westboro Baptist Church the same. 

The petition cites comments made by the Pope at Christmas where he said that gay people are manipulating their sexual orientation to alter god-given nature, and that they ”deny their nature”, which is “given to them by their bodily identity.”

The Netherlands was the first country to legalise equal marriage, back in 2001, and official statistics report that, by the end of 2010, 14,813 gay couples were married in the country,

Back in October, the country’s government began looking into changing the law to take into account its 25,000 LGBT families, and issues faced by step-parents or sperm donors.