At what point does cafeteria Catholicism become material Protestantism?


At what point does cafeteria Catholicism become material Protestantism?

How many or which doctrinal and/or binding disciplinary matters can a self-professed Catholic knowingly and willingly disregard before sinking into de facto Protestantism?

Where is the line drawn? :confused:


the very moment a person knowingly denies a dogma of the faith.
It is impossible to deny an individual dogma. When a person denies a church dogma they are denying all dogma.


But is such an individual then a heretic or a Protestant?


It is impossible to deny an individual dogma.

I think this is true. If one denies any singular dogma, s/he is also denying the dogma of infalible teaching authority of the Church. (which in itself seems more a schism, than a heresy.)
but it doesn’t necessarilly hold that all dogma is rejected. quotes Aquinas : **There are, therefore, two ways of deviating from Christianity: the one by refusing to believe in Christ Himself, which is the way of infidelity, common to Pagans and Jews; the other by restricting belief to certain points of Christ’s doctrine selected and fashioned at pleasure, which is the way of heretics. **

according to newadvent’s section on degrees of heresy :**a doctrinal proposition, without directly contradicting a received dogma, may yet involve logical consequences at variance with revealed truth. Such a proposition is not heretical, it is a propositio theologice erronea, that is, erroneous in theology. **

here’s the link:

given the particulars of heresy i.e., distinctions, degrees etc., it seems entirely prudent to leave the label “heretic” to be used at the discretion of the Church.

In other words, “Kids, don’t try this at home.”


There are too many factors to judge decisively and authoritatively(IMO). To know ones culpability is really difficult. Many factors are necessary. To us, we know absolutely that fornication and/or living together before marriage is wrong. But, I heard the following story.

In some parts of Europe living together is so common and universal that a bishop remarked to Pope John Paul II that the young people in the Church really didn’t know it was wrong. The Pope didn’t reply - How can they not know!! (That would have been my reply.) Pope John Paul replied - Then they must be educated to know!

I know in my dealing with people that they are ALL OVER THE BOARD. Some believe this is good (which is indeed good) and that is good (which is indeed bad) and this is bad (which is indeed bad) and that is bad (which is indeed good) – and every variation possible. No two souls are alike. So, I feel it’s better not to ask questions like the above - not that the above is a bad question for discussion of forums like this, it’s a good question - but in practical living it’s best to simply try to bring “light” to our conversations with others. In my conversations with Catholic people if they say they believe in something that isn’t exactly what the Church teaches I try to give them the reasons “why” the Church believes what it believes. Sometimes (often?) this will at least be enough to get them to thinking in a different vein where they can see the Church in a more positive light.

I think sometimes we think if we don’t get a wholesale conversion from a person - everything is for naught. But I think in addition to getting much better catechises to the lay faithful - we need tons of “nudgers” – people who will in charity and goodwill bring a little light into their world because, as we know, there are no end to the darkness that’s expressed in so much of our materialistic secular culture.



Heretic is my guess - not all heretics are protestant, you know :wink:
It makes thema a kind of… well… cafeteria Christians.


I will have to echo THurifer, and say as soon as they knowingly reject a Catholic dogma.
I want to qualify my answer with some more explanation though.
I think the point is irrelevant (with much respect). I sense an underlying question which is not directly being asked, and I’d like to take a stab at it.
No matter how much a Catholic sins, canonically, he remains a Catholic until he undergoes the initiation rites of another religion (or denomination), or publicly announces his withdrawal from Catholicism, ie, letter to bishop.
A Protestant is at best a material heretic. I’m not rightly sure that it “matters” which heresy it is. I’m also not sure about the line between remaining firmly in some of your “favourite” sins, and actually believing that it’s ok.


The shortest and most direct answer to the original question is this. Theologians teach that ***to be truly Catholic, one must accept all that the Church believes and teaches. *** Stated another way, if you do not, then you are not truly Catholic, no matter what you say or think or feel.
Deacon Ed B


You don’t sink into Protestantism, you elevate!


In order to qualify as a heretic, one must hold the belief first. Most “cafeteria Catholics” don’t understand the Teachings because they have never studied it, an reject it out of misunderstanding. I think they are more properly called Protestants, ignorant ones.


Especially if you affirm justification by faith alone as the begining and foundation of the Christian life. :slight_smile:


I suspect that at least once in every Catholic’s life, they could have been considered a “cafeteria Catholic”.


Every single cafeteria catholic I know is so because they deny the Church’s tough moral teachings that affect their own lives:
abortion and artificial birth control.

The cafeteria Catholic’s problems with confession, purgatory, Mary, the communion of saints, etc., are only symptoms of their problems with the moral teachings.


Lots of cafeteria Catholics that I know don’t believe in transubstantiation, and many that I know don’t respect the authority of Rome.

And that’s just fine with me because they are very good people. If they weren’t Catholic and instead were Jewish they would be assured of heaven. But the Roman Church insists on excluding them.

I go along with the Jews. They really do accept most everyone even if they aren’t Jewish.


If these people believe, or don’t believe as you say, than they are not truly Catholic, no matter what they say.
Deacon Ed B


Should we pray like this?

Immaculate Conception, Mary, my Mother.
Live in me. Act in me. Speak in and through me.
Think your thoughts in my mind. Love, through my heart.
Give me your dispositions and feelings.
Teach, lead and guide me to Jesus.
Correct, enlighten and expand my thoughts and behavior.
Possess my soul. Take over my entire personality and life.
Replace it with yourself.
Incline me to constant adoration and thanksgiving.
Pray in me and through me.
Let me live in you and keep me in this union always.
– Pope John Paul II


This is filled with contradiction. If someone professes to believe something then they should hold onto the tenets of what they believe. If they do not, they are hypocritical. This kind of behavior does not mean that they are good persons. None of us is in a position to judge the hearts and minds of men, but those that are Catholic in name only need help.

I was once a cafeteria Catholic…I know what I’m talking about. I needed help and by the grace of God I was given the help I needed.

By the way, it is God that saves…I find it difficult to understand how you have decided that Catholics are not going to heaven.


Yeah, yeah, yeah…I said that the Catholic Church excludes cafeteria Catholics because they don’t accept all the beliefs of the Church. I would never in a million years say they aren’t going to heaven. It’s Rome that says that and I reject that preposterous idea.


The prayer is fine. The idea is to look at Jesus and to love Jesus as his mother did. It is proper to be inclined to constant adoration and thanksgiving. This is purely biblical. Likewise, it is biblical to ask for intercessions and supplications. Scripture also tells us that the prayers of a just man availeth much. Scripture also tells us that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses and that we “have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.”

Since all of these things are scriptural it is appropriate for us to ask the saints that have gone before us, that are the spirits of just men made perfect, to pray for us and to lead us by their example to greater love of God.

I hope this helps.

I hope this helps.


Are you saying that it is okay to believe something and profess it, but to then turn around and cut out the parts that one finds inconvenient or otherwise not to their liking? Are you saying that God will approve any Christian of any denomination that would do such a thing?

The Church is not turning these people away. These people are turning away from the Church which is the body of Christ.

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