Three cheers for "cafeteria" Catholics

I know a lot of people on CAF complain about so-called “cafeteria” Catholics who disagree with the Church on certain issues. In fact, when I was deciding whether to get baptized or not I was told point-blank by some members here that the church would be better off without me.

But I was thinking about it today, and here’s what I thought:

By a lot of accounts, something like 70% of Catholics disagree with doctrine on at least one of the major “social justice” issues. Now, yes, people are entitled to wishing that those 70% would become come more in-line with traditional views. But what if they went the other way?

Could the Catholic Church as an institution (at least as we know it today) survive if 70% of its members decided to, say, become Episcopalians instead? I can’t be the only “cafeteria” Catholic who’s a regular church-goers who supports their parishes both socially and financially. What would it look like if all of those people walked?

Maybe I’m just in a mood today, but I think we should be applauding people who hang on to this faith by their fingernails instead of complaining about them. There’s a saying that courage isn’t not being afraid, it’s being afraid and going ahead anyway. Something similar could probably be said in this case. It’s easy to do what the church wants if you agree with it. But three cheers for those who try to stay with and support the church despite personal differences that they can’t reconcile.

Just my two cents.

Instead of applauding them, I pray for them. The faith is not one of ‘pick and choose’ when it comes to dogma. It’s all or nothing. It is that firmness, that assurance of believing that truth is not relative, that brought me in to the Church.

Interesting thread. My thoughts on this are: 1. Hang around, something may, and has for many people, changed to alter your perspective, to where your thoughts and desires become closer to that of the church.

  1. Since we can never know what God ultimately has in store for us, being near or on the right path and treading water, is a heck of alot better than not being in the same ball park and feeling that way.

I don’t consider myself to be a “cafeteria” Catholic, but one of my favorite sayings that I share with those who seem to criticise them is, “don’t give up till they throw dirt on the lid!”

They are not just disagreeing with the Church. They are disagreeing with Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ and His Church are One and the Same.

I am not sure where you get the statistic of 70%. There are a lot of twisted surveys out there and based on who they actually use to conduct their survey, end up with results that
in reality are not true. What are you trying to applaud here, dissent? When most people “complain” about cafeteria type Catholics, they usually are indicating public politicians or media people that claim to be Catholic then go ahead and support some rather unCatholic activites usually in the moral department. Catholics that don’t practice fully their faith and support or vote and do things that are obviously contrary to Catholic teaching (ususally morally) end up in the long run only hurting themselves and their relationship with God. It is one things to struggle with something, it is another to be in defiance of the Church. It is one thing to honestly say, “I am trying to understand or accept why the Catholic Church teaches …” it is another to draw a line in the sand, ignore or deliberately walk away from something the Catholic Church teaches which is basically what God teaches and wants for our lives. Applauding the later is skating on thin ice and the problem with that is that the ice brakes and one falls through.

Hey, I’m all for supporting those who are trying to stay with and support the Church despite having personal doubts.

What I have a problem with are people who try to use their ‘staying’ as a weapon, or a justification.

You know, “well, I’M a Catholic in good-standing at St. Faroutikis, and I’m pro choice. It’s the woman’s decision. I don’t pay attention to out-moded pronouncements from old MEN. I think for MYSELF.”

Or, “I think the Church is dead wrong in just about everything but I was born Catholic, and I’m just as ‘good’ as any other Catholic, and I’ll tear down everything I can about the Church while claiming that I CAN do so because I AM Catholic.”

or, “Well, I know that I disagree with the Church on X and so do other people in my parish, so we go ahead and do what WE KNOW is RIGHT. One of these days the Church will ‘catch up with us.’ Until then we will proudly ‘market’ ourselves as Catholic, claim our schools as Catholic, and teach them to ‘take the good and leave the bad’ as they see fit.”

You get the idea.

Basically, the person who disagrees with the Church on a given subject but who shuts up about it and prays, not that the Church ‘listen to him and change’, but that he or she be granted the grace to come into union and acceptance of the CHURCH. . .is the REAL one who ‘hangs on to the faith’ while suffering personal doubts or worries.

The person however who proudly proclaims his or her disagreement on various subjects, over and over and over, as in, “Oh, I can’t wait for women priests, communion for the divorced, gay marriage acceptance, etc.” and then with great sighs says, 'But the Church still hasn’t come to its senses, and so I’m just trying to wait until it does". . .that’s not a person to cheer for. That’s a person who is turning things upside down and trying to make it look as though he or she is a HERO for being willing to ‘hang on’ until the Church finally gets as enlightened and Christlike as he (or she) is.

The Faith is all or nothing. “Cafeteria Catholics” are just that - Cafeteria Catholics. They are not Catholics. If you irreconcilably disagree with fundamental Church teachings then you aren’t hanging on by your fingernails - you’ve already fallen off the cliff. If you refuse to assent to the authority of the Church on fundamental matters, then in what way do you remain consciously a Catholic?

“By a lot of accounts” is not a sufficient citation for me to believe your first assumption. You have not defined “social issues” sufficiently to justify a response. Being one sandwich short of a picnic seems to be your sort of cafeteria, but this position of hanging on by the fingernails can be very painful and very precarious at the same time.
I would like to throw you a rope of prayer that you personally find yourself on solid ground. Walking on the water was too much for Peter, much less us poor souls.
Some argue that the Church would be stronger with less people in it but with a higher faith. I leave His Church in the Control of the Holy Spirit.
The church could do with being a poorer church and less a mirror of the establishment. Thankfully given the decay of the establishment the gap is becoming more obvious.

Well here’s one account:

I’ve seen others. I mean obvious it’s hard to get a bead on a group as diverse and widespread as all Catholics worldwide. But 12,000 across 12 countries seems like a good start. Granted, I didn’t see much in the article about the methodology. But I haven’t seen anything to the effect of “Catholics are all on the same page! Yay!” anywhere lately. lol

Do you have a survey that shows less division?

Your point is a good one. I know almost no one who is like the typical CAFer in real life. The vast majority are the 'cafeteria type" that tick off the posters here. They support the parish with time and treasure and without them, there is no doubt the doors would close.

There is an interesting link I encourage you to go to. Go to google and put in “priest came back from death” Then select the site “priest has near death experience and almost goes to hell.” It is a video interview with Fr. Steven Scheir who after a terrible auto accident in which he was thrown from his vehicle has what he describes as an encounter before the judgment seat of God. Fr. Steve says he formerly only preached about peace, love and joy. He never guided his parishioners in the dogmas of their faith or the moral life God was requiring of them. He said he did this for two reasons: to not offend anyone and to thereby keep the money coming in. He said he was condemned to Hell, which he saw at the time as fully just and necessary. (If there were other sins he was guilty of he does not go into those). But he stresses God’s main judgment is that “he spent 12 years as a priest and served no one but himself” (i.e. Fr. Steve). Through our Lady’s intercession, according to Fr. Steve, he is given the grace to come back to life. He has an amazing recovery. The rest of the story is his total conversion and transformation as a priest.

Personally I don’t understand someone that wants to belong to an organization where they don’t agree with what it stands for. Thirty years ago I began having doctrinal and other disagreements with Mormonism. I didn’t have any desire to stay around and support them when I was in conflict with their beliefs and I left. I believe you are in communion with the Church or you aren’t. It was cafeteria Catholics that gave us the most evil president this country has ever had. It breaks my heart to see what this country has become. I will pray for you, though. :signofcross:

JFK? :confused: (trying to think what president a lot of Catholics voted for)

The Church was in no less danger of ceasing to exist when it was a couple hundred gathered at Pentecost then it would be at 30% of Her current members. If but one remains faithful to the teachings of Christ and His Church, then She still remains. Truth does not depend on the number of adherents. Now the state of our souls certainly is effected by orthodoxy and orthopraxis. No, I will not cheer for those that willingly reject the teachings of the Church, I will simply pray for God to have mercy on all of our souls.

Lord have mercy; Christ have mercy; Lord have mercy. :signofcross:

Not so much an argument but just an acknowledgement that the Church will indeed become smaller as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI alluded to when he was a Cardinal. We, as Catholics, should always pray that all should belong to the Church that Jesus founded, the Catholic Church.

I don’t know that I’d give them three cheers. Maybe one…one and a half. :stuck_out_tongue:

I get what you are saying. I always cringe when people tell “cafeteria Catholics” that the Church would be better off without them. The Church isn’t a pristine country club where we must take pains to keep out the rabble. Rather than emphasizing that they are not welcome, we would be better off encouraging them to open their hearts and minds to the fullness of the Church’s teaching.

There are a lot of Catholics out there who stick around for a lot of different reasons, not all of which I understand. I think we should celebrate how close they are to Christ. But that doesn’t mean we give up on trying to draw them even closer to Him. :slight_smile: But we are all in that boat of needing to be closer to Him.

It’s true that ‘cafeteria catholics’ are really just protestants and we know what happens when you separate Jesus from His Church, the Catholic Church. But just like we are called to proclaim the Truth of the One True Church to protestants that means also those ‘catholics’ who do not agree with a teaching of Jesus Christ.


Very well said. Thank you, I’ve had similar thoughts.

As a faith, yes. As an institution, no.

If the church lost 70% of its members there would be fewer Catholics than Buddhists in the world. How many Buddhist temples are you aware of where you live? How many Buddhists do you know personally? Other than the immense popularity of the dalai lama, Buddhists don’t really have much sway in world politics that I’m aware of. What I’m getting at is that – if the 70% statistic is right – the fact that all those cafeteria Catholics still identify themselves as Catholics is what’s keeping the Catholic Church from losing most of the social capital that allows it to do what it does in the world.

The Church is no mere corporation; it is divine. It will go on. That said, 70% may not be far from the truth. In 1969, Cardinal Josef Ratzinger predicted:

From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge – a Church that has lost much, She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. …] But in all of the changes at which one might guess, the Church will find her essence afresh and with full conviction in that which was always at her center: faith in the triune God, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, in the presence of the Spirit until the end of the world. …] We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death. Read more.]

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