Cafeteria Catholic

I have been Catholic my entire life. My entire family is Catholic. My dad and myself hold traditional Catholic values. We fully agree with the teachings of the Church. My mom, however, claims herself as a Catholic, yet she holds many un-Catholic views.

For example…

-She believes that if two people love each other (ex. Man and Man, Woman and Woman) then they should be allowed a relationship, whether the relationship is sexual or not.

-She does not think abortion is okay, but she does not believe that the government should prevent people from getting one.

-She is a big believer in birth control and fertility treatments.

-She does not believe that confession is necessary. She feels that she can confess her sins to God by herself.

This really bothers me. I want to be a priest, and plan on going to the diocesan seminary. It bothers me that as a possible Catholic priest, my own mother is for things that the Church is against. She does not even stop to consider any other source (pope, bible, catechism) than her own self. What bothers me even more is that my dad just lets it go. He doesn’t even voice his opinion. I am not asking for him to be rude, I want him to just talk about it with her in a respectable, compassionate way.


you don’t need a perfect catholic mother to be a priest. go by what your own faith tells you.

as for discusisng with her, maybe you could talk to your dad about this first and then the two of you can do it together?

This is a big problem in the Church and is running rampant in my family as well. I wish I had an answer… it comes to a point where we continue to evangelize but even more we leave it in Gods hands and say as Jesus said, ‘forgive them Father for they know not what they do’. Also our culture doesn’t help…all those things you point the media, politicians promote

I hate the term ‘Cafeteria Catholic’ because the meaning of the word in practice is usually: ‘anyone who does not eat the exact same parts of the Catholic buffet that I do.’ We are all cafeteria Catholics: our minds and our experiences are as finite as our stomach and tastes. All of us eat from one section of the buffet more than another.

I would not worry overly much about your Mom, but to trust in and to pray to the Lord for her. My mom does not even go to Church now which is far worse in my opinion; yet I love her very much and she has been a strong influence in my life.

Second most of her ideas are not as far off from Catholicism as you might expect. None of us are perfect and the church has always been made of less than perfect members with less than perfect ideas. Remember the parable of the wheat and the tare (or weeds). All of us have both wheat and weeds sown in our hearts; at the last day they will be separated and the weeds burned. My guess is that your mother has plenty of wheat sown in her heart as well. Too, all of us have some weeds that need to be pulled and burned. Do not be like the Pharisee at the front of the temple who sees only the good in himself and the bad in others.

Finally, and most importantly, you really need to see this as an opportunity and not a burden. The good shepherd cannot rescue the lost sheep without going into the wilderness and among the thorns. If you cannot the find sympathy and understanding to deal kindly with your own mom who has strayed, then how can you find it for those you are less close to.

Only Christ is the Good Shepherd; not even the strongest priest can move a sinners heart even an inch in a direction that it does not want to go. But, priests have a responsibility not only to tend the 99 who are not lost but to seek out the one who is lost and to clear for it a path and to untangle it from the thorns even when it seeks to tangle itself again. Your mom is both not as lost as some and gives you an opportunity to learn that skill. To know how you should clear that path. To know how you should treat her wounds. And finally, to know how to pray to and how to trust in the one true Good Shepherd to carry her home.

If you become a priest you will need all of those skills.

Never underestimate how God can use you to change her mind, especially if you do enter the Priesthood. :slight_smile:

It is important to understand what is sometimes referred to as the “Law of gradualism.” It means that we must have patience with those who are accepting of sin and deeply confused on certain matters. We must give them time to achieve a deeper conversion gradually, in God’s own time. This is not to encourage a “gradualism of the law” where we lie to them about what is good and true and then only reveal more truth when we think they can handle it. We must present them with clear and true teaching, but with compassion and patience, understanding that they will not be magically converted all at once.

At times it would be advisable to encourage your mother to enter more deeply into prayer, go to adoration, or go to daily mass once a week rather than aiming directly at the topics she has the hardest time with. It is notoriously difficult to handle such “hot-button issues” in a family context where everyone is aware of the other’s foibles and sin. They must therefore be handled with particular care.

For more information on this see Veritatis Splendor 119, Familiaris Consortio 9, 34, 39, 60, 66, and Caritas en Veritate.

God bless,

Good advice.

I do like the term Cafeteria Catholic, because I believe myself to be one. I identify as a homosexual man, and under being a Cafeteria Catholic I get to pick a choose what I want to subscribe to. I know I will get people saying that I’m not Catholic for believing this way but hey it’s my life and I will live as I chose. I’m against the killing of babies that are already formed, but if two people love each other even if the church says its a warped love it’s fine, even if no life can come out of that form of pairing. I know there are others out there that believe as I do, to those live on brothers!!!

“Law of Gradualism” - that is new for me. I’m glad you pointed out the difference between it and Gradualism of the law.


God bless.

If there were not “cafeteria Catholics” then there would be very few Catholics left in this world, especially those who live in first world countries! There is a very good reason that we were made with the ability to form our own consciences - it was a gift from The Lord!:wink:

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