Understanding a specific Cafeteria Catholic issue

I’d like some help in understanding a particular issue that has to do with Cafeteria Catholics, especially those who are cradle Catholics.

Suppose a cradle Catholic is examining the following two propositions.

  1. As an infant, and without my consent, I was baptized into a particular church, this baptism supposedly left an indelible seal on me whose full meaning I probably don’t entirely understand, and I am expected to remain affiliated with this church for my whole life.

  2. Beyond all that, I am also expected to obey this church in whatever things it decides I must obey. I’m not likely to face any real punishment if I don’t obey, and other Catholics will be reluctant to call me a bad Catholic, but people might call me a “cafeteria Catholic” or something similar.

So, with those two propositions in mind, the cafeteria Catholic is likely to reach these two conclusions.

  1. It’s kind of bogus that other people chose my religion and my church for me, I kind of think I should have been in charge of that. But it’s not so bad, and I’m not so enamored with religion in the abstract that I feel the need to explore elsewhere, so I’m willing to swallow that objection, take the path of least resistance, and continue in the church where I was placed. It will keep certain family members relatively happy too.

  2. Wait a minute, I’m also expected to obey this church in whatever things it decides I ought to? That’s unreasonable, and I won’t go along with it. I was very accommodating on point number one, and for that I am owed the courtesy of being able to choose which things I obey and which I do not. If I had made an adult decision to join this church I would have taken that into consideration, but since I wasn’t given a choice about my religious identity, I will go ahead and decide for myself how much of this I will obey. That is not entirely ideal, but under present circumstances it is the best and most reasonable arrangement.

How does CAF respond to this way of thinking? Pay special attention to Proposition 2 and Conclusion 2- cradle Catholics are expected to obey the Church in all things that the Church says to obey, and then the conclusion is “That’s unreasonable.” Keep in mind that the cafeteria Catholic was able to come to grips with Proposition 1 a bit more easily, but Proposition 2 looks more untenable.

Speaking as Catholics who are for the most part opposed to the cafeteria approach, do you have any particular line of reasoning in your back pocket that would cause Proposition 2 to conclude differently? Personally, at this time, I can’t think of any truly convincing arguments as to why infant-baptized cradle Catholics should be seen as people who truly owe their obedience to the Church, as if it can be demanded of them. But that is probably why I’m not a Catholic, and perhaps someone out there has an amazing response that I haven’t thought of.

Speaking of which, I’m going to add a poll to this question. Just checking to make sure- when an infant is baptized Catholic, does that mean this person owes their obedience to the Catholic Church, in the sense of an obligation that can be demanded of them? Keeping in mind that the entire decision-making process which led to the creation of this obligation was intentionally kept out of the hands of the person whose obedience is being demanded- is there a way to argue for this conclusion in a way that makes you seem reasonable?

That’s all I’m really getting at, but I hope the pairings of propositions and conclusions helped make it all a bit more understandable.

What is unreasonable? Are you looking for the pray, you’re saved and that’s it crowd? Imo, they are misguided. Did you attend Mass today? What was the second reading about? That’s right! Faith without works is DEAD.

A cafeteria Catholic might say it is unreasonable to demand that they obey everything a church teaches, under circumstances where they did not personally choose to be a part of that church. Perhaps they’re willing to go along with being a member and not seek a way out, but they still don’t think it’s reasonable to say they owe this church obedience in all things without asking for consent.

Do you think you have good reason to tell someone that because of a decision their parents made, they are now obligated to obey the Church? Keep in mind that I am not talking about an invitation to obey, or encouragement to obey, but an obligation which leads to a demand.

Let’s cut right to the chase. When you’re talking about cradle Catholics, particularly those who don’t want to obey all of Church teaching, does their infant baptism give you sufficient grounds for demanding obedience?

Demand- an insistent and peremptory request, made as if by right.

A cafeteria Catholic might say, my infant baptism did not involve my consent and therefore you have no right, so you make no demands. What are you saying? Do you make demands? Do you have the right to insist?

Explain “demand obedience”. Maybe that’s where I’m getting stuck.

“Demand”- an insistent and peremptory request, made as if by right.
“Obedience”- compliance with an order, request, or law or submission to another’s authority.

It would probably be helpful to introduce the words “submit” and “authority.”

When it comes to cradle Catholics who personally don’t really want to obey all Church teaching, what does their infant-baptism mean for them on this particular issue?

Because of their baptism as infants, does this mean the Catholic Church can demand or require their submission to its authority? Or is it merely a good and right thing for them to do which cannot be demanded or required without their personal consent?

The only logical reason for obeying the Catholic Church is that you believe that it is the Church instituted by Christ for the salvation of His people. If you believe that, it doesn’t make sense to disobey any of Her teachings, because to do so is to disobey God. If you don’t believe that, then there is no reason to feel obligated in any way. Whether you were Baptized as an infant or an adult doesn’t really matter if you still have no faith in the Church.

The problem with this scenario of your is that in reality the infant when it was Baptised yes it was joined to the Mystical Body of Christ (The Catholic Church) but the Parents and Godparents also made a promise to raise the child and instruct him/her in the faith.
Now if the parents AND Godparents did not live up to the expectations of the Church that person cannot be held culpable of his/her not really understanding the faith and fail at keeping it.
It is entirely possible though that GOD can give that person GRACE and pull him/her to HIS Church.

By the way many protestants who have converted do recognize it was the GRACE of their Baptism that eventually led them to accept the teachings of the Church Jesus founded.

In the end once we are convicted of this fact, that Jesus founded 1 Church with Peter at it’s helm and promised to be forever guarding her no one would likely want to remain in any other.

And remember in HIS Church there are no Saints, at least on this Earth we are all sinners in need of mercy now of course in Heaven it is another matter altogether.
Perhaps if you learn all that the Church teaches in contrast to what OTHER people say she teaches you might join her too. I will pray to the Holy Spirit to give you abundant grace. God Bless.

Catholic teaching (with which I agree):
It is not the Church which requires submission to Her authority; it is God. And it is actually the duty of every human being to submit to the authority of God, which He vested in the Catholic Church in the Person of Jesus Christ, just before He ascended into Heaven.

Now, regarding your questions, Socrates gave a very good example of this in his statement before he was executed, when his friends came to try to get him to escape. He explaned that he had been born in Athens, had benefited from being a citizen of Athens, and had to take the good with the bad. He couldn’t be a good Athenian only when it suited him, when things were going well for him; he had to always be a good Athenian.

In the same way, I having benefited from living in my nation, cannot be a “cafeteria American.” It would be wrong for me to say, I like the good roads, but am sick of paying taxes. The education is great, but why do I have to pass exams? etc.

Now, “the USA” is an institution which is composed of its parts (people), but is also more than the sum of its parts. Say a club exists to raise money for a certain charitable purpose, but whose members steal the money for a party one year. One can see that the club as an institution is a good thinv, even tho the members went bad.

The Catholic Church is like that club, only as a God-made institution protected by the Holy Spirit, it is perfect. That does not mean the members are perfect; sadly, most are imperfect to varying degrees.

So here some parents have done their children the incredible favor of baptizing and raising their child in the Catholic Church. Of course the child has the duty to follow Church teaching! We are all so obliged, but for a Catholic, who has had the benefit of being Catholic all his life, the obligation is clearer, if not greater, no?

We know that what the Church teaches is from God, because Christ promised that the Holy Spirit would protect His Church from teaching error. So we must believe that what the Church teaches is true, or we are disbelieving Christ, no? And from that it folows that we must believe that which the Church teaches.

If I didn’t believe all that the Church believed, then I’d go somewhere. What I don’t understand about “cafeteria” Catholics is that, if they don’t like a particular dogma, why don’t they just go to the cafeteria and find a church that they agree with? I really don’t understand why anyone would go to church at all if they don’t believe what is being taught.

If I understand it correctly, which is doubtful, the OP is suggesting that disobedient Catholics are not real Catholics but perhaps what some self-righteous Catholics call CINO or “Catholic In Name Only.” Then the church perhaps could demand obedience and the member could ignore or refuse, and then what? Breach of contract, broken covenant, so the church disowns the member?

That’s not the way it works. When one sheep wandered off (Matthew 18:10-14 or Luke 15:1-7), did the shepherd say “Go find yourself another shepherd and another flock”? No. There will be one Shepherd and one flock (John 10:11-16). A lot of Catholics have gone astray, but the Good Shepherd desires to bring them all back to the fold. Should not the Catholic Church (and all the faithful) do the same?

This, by the way, is what Pope Francis has been saying all along. He has addressed cafeteria-style, divorced and remarried, homosexual, those who have carried out abortions, people of all faiths, agnostics, atheists, … you name it. The Good Shepherd loves them all, and is still searching for them, and by His grace they may be saved… Ahem… by His grace we may be saved, for we too are sinners.

This relates to the the meaning of the word catholic. It comes from Greek words meaning something like “encompassing the whole.” Jesus intends for there to be one shepherd and one flock, that is, one Church. This is not to say my church is True and your church is False. It is to say that our Church is fragmented, our world is fragmented, and yet we hope for unification. We don’t know how it can be possible. We don’t know when it’s going to be fulfilled. We just keep on proclaiming and living the Gospel until that day.
Matthew 19:25-26 New American Bible (Revised Edition)

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”

BNB, I need some clarification. If you could answer my questions, it would help with my answer.

Do you believe we should be affiliated with Jesus our entire lives? If yes, why?

  1. Beyond all that, I am also expected to obey this church in whatever things it decides I must obey. I’m not likely to face any real punishment if I don’t obey, and other Catholics will be reluctant to call me a bad Catholic, but people might call me a “cafeteria Catholic” or something similar.

Do the ten commandments only apply to Jews and Christians, or are they universal laws, applicable to everyone, whether you believe or not? If yes, why?

So, with those two propositions in mind, the cafeteria Catholic is likely to reach these two conclusions.

  1. It’s kind of bogus that other people chose my religion and my church for me, I kind of think I should have been in charge of that. But it’s not so bad, and I’m not so enamored with religion in the abstract that I feel the need to explore elsewhere, so I’m willing to swallow that objection, take the path of least resistance, and continue in the church where I was placed. It will keep certain family members relatively happy too.

Do you expect parents to raise their kids with a smorgasbord of options, saying: “it’s okay if you choose, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Atheism, Shintoism, etc…,” or do you expect the parents to raise their kids in what they believe?

As a side note, the only way I could think of anyone thinking it is bogus, is if there are real problems between parents and offspring. Most people, whether they think their parents were right or wrong, believe their parents were truly doing what they thought best, and would not view it as bogus.

Do you think Jesus viewed His circumcision as bogus? After all, He didn’t ask for it.

  1. Wait a minute, I’m also expected to obey this church in whatever things it decides I ought to? That’s unreasonable, and I won’t go along with it. I was very accommodating on point number one, and for that I am owed the courtesy of being able to choose which things I obey and which I do not. If I had made an adult decision to join this church I would have taken that into consideration, but since I wasn’t given a choice about my religious identity, I will go ahead and decide for myself how much of this I will obey. That is not entirely ideal, but under present circumstances it is the best and most reasonable arrangement.

Could one not say the same about the bible, and ten commandments? I didn’t decide which books should be in there, so I should be able to obey only the parts I want to, correct? Everyone should be able to choose what parts to obey. This should be no problem with God, since He and I didn’t dialogue on it. Reasonable circumstances, and not a sin, correct? After all, I didn’t ask to be born, no demands should be placed on me.

How does CAF respond to this way of thinking? Pay special attention to Proposition 2 and Conclusion 2- cradle Catholics are expected to obey the Church in all things that the Church says to obey, and then the conclusion is “That’s unreasonable.” Keep in mind that the cafeteria Catholic was able to come to grips with Proposition 1 a bit more easily, but Proposition 2 looks more untenable.

Speaking as Catholics who are for the most part opposed to the cafeteria approach, do you have any particular line of reasoning in your back pocket that would cause Proposition 2 to conclude differently? Personally, at this time, I can’t think of any truly convincing arguments as to why infant-baptized cradle Catholics should be seen as people who truly owe their obedience to the Church, as if it can be demanded of them. But that is probably why I’m not a Catholic, and perhaps someone out there has an amazing response that I haven’t thought of.

Speaking of which, I’m going to add a poll to this question. Just checking to make sure- when an infant is baptized Catholic, does that mean this person owes their obedience to the Catholic Church, in the sense of an obligation that can be demanded of them? Keeping in mind that the entire decision-making process which led to the creation of this obligation was intentionally kept out of the hands of the person whose obedience is being demanded- is there a way to argue for this conclusion in a way that makes you seem reasonable?

Are there laws in society, and the ten commandments, that you were left out of the decision making that directly affect you? And if there is, should you be expected to give obedience to them? If yes, why?

Keeping in mind, that since no one asks to be born, should you be able to do anything you want, with no ramifications? Should there be demands put upon you simply because you are human, or where you happen to be born?

Thanks. I look forward to your amazing answers.

Thanks for your response. JerryZ feels that it’s important to consider how the parents and godparents promise to instruct in the faith, which makes it easier to get things done, makes things easier to understand. Are you suggesting that their instruction and encouragement is strictly non-coercive and not in any way a demand that an obligation be fulfilled?

And what if this instruction is heard and understood but rejected and ignored on major points, while maintaining membership in (technically) good standing? Is that still a time for suggestions, or is there a point where obligation and demands take over?

Well, as I suggested in the OP, perhaps they feel that they are handling two separate propositions. Proposition one- we made you a part of this church, now this is your church for the rest of your life. Don’t go looking anywhere else. And for any number of reasons (which I could write several paragraphs about), they basically accept this and go with it. Proposition two- this church that you belong to has some teachings, you must believe all of them and comply with the things it tells you to do, under penalty of (quite often) not really anything. With this one it’s incredibly easy to do what you want with no consequences, who’s really going to stop you, and perhaps this second proposition seems less reasonable than the first.

Basically, proposition one seems halfway okay, acceptable anyway, so let’s go with it. Proposition two seems less reasonable, and let’s not do that. Generally I think that’s about how it works.

It’s also important to understand that the decision to join this church in the first place was not their own. If they had made an adult decision to join a church whose teachings they did not believe, that would be strange indeed. But under these particular membership circumstances, it kind of makes sense.

And there’s also this. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formal_act_of_defection_from_the_Catholic_Church

It would probably be wise for me to seek clarification on this matter, but it sure looks like the Catholic Church did something in 2009 that makes formal defection much less of a workable option, and this was done on purpose. I’ll leave it to someone else to analyze what bearing this might have on the suggestion that people simply go elsewhere.

That is a really excellent point. If you do not believe the Church is what she says she is, then why would you want to be in it? I don’t mean that we should throw anyone out; I’m not talking about that sort of thing. I mean, if you do not believe what the Church teaches about herself, why would you still go? Why would you participate in a religion that is based on what you think is a lie? Why would you think your baptism meant anything other than what baptism means in most Protestant churches? How would anyone be demanding anything of you if you don’t recognize their authority to do so?

If the Church is the one Church founded by Jesus, and guided through the ages by the Holy Spirit, then, as Allegra says, it’s not the Church demanding obedience, it’s God, who really has the best possible right to do so. :smiley: If the Church is just a man-made institution, then baptism does not impose an indelible seal, the Church has no authority over you, and someone telling you to obey her precepts is no different from the atheist who says you are a superstitious fool to believe at all. They’re just someone with an opinion contrary to yours.

I guess I’m biased because when I thought the Church was not correct in her teachings about herself, I did go. I’m not saying it’s better than another path, just that I’ve never really understood the other ones.

–Jen

But if the Catholic church is not what she says she is, why would anyone care whether she thought they were a members? It would be meaningless.

I think it matters because I do believe. However (for example) I don’t care whether a Mormon does that proxy baptism thing for me (OK, I care because I think it is rude, but not much), because I don’t believe it does anything at all. Any obligations it imposed on me would be meaningless because I don’t believe in them. (Actually, this is a very bad example, which I hope any Mormon readers will excuse. It’s a bad example because I’m reasonably sure that they only do this for people who have already died. But if they, or anyone else, did that for me while I was alive, my reaction would be as above stated. :slight_smile: )

–Jen

Now this is tricky. There are reasons I as a Catholic believe that a person raised in the Church should stay in the Church. I also believe that everyone should become Catholic.

However! Catholic teaching is that people should not be forced to convert. So, from my point of view, altho a person has a duty to become Catholic, no one is permitted to *force *them to become Catholic. They must choose Catholicism of their own free will.

So, *in my layperson’s opinion, *a person who is raised Catholic would have the same freedom. The problem is that they would be in a position, objectively speaking, where they would be much more likely to put their souls in peril by rejecting the Church. However, there are no Vatican police that will come after a person and force them back if they do not want to go.

As to those who reject one or more teachings, well, if they keep it to themselves, then that’s between them and God. What happens is that there are those who do mot keep it to themselves. They are Catholic-but. And what they are doing is being a member of the Chirch and gaining the benefits if being a member, while acting against the Church, which may be a different issue than what you have in mind.

Basically, proposition one seems halfway okay, acceptable anyway, so let’s go with it. Proposition two seems less reasonable, and let’s not do that. Generally I think that’s about how it works.

It’s also important to understand that the decision to join this church in the first place was not their own. If they had made an adult decision to join a church whose teachings they did not believe, that would be strange indeed. But under these particular membership circumstances, it kind of makes sense.

And there’s also this. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formal_act_of_defection_from_the_Catholic_Church

It would probably be wise for me to seek clarification on this matter, but it sure looks like the Catholic Church did something in 2009 that makes formal defection much less of a workable option, and this was done on purpose. I’ll leave it to someone else to analyze what bearing this might have on the suggestion that people simply go elsewhere.

Yes, because it’s a good idea, for lots of reasons. But Jesus does not demand affiliation, and His call is and always has been strictly non-coercive. It’s a key distinction, and yes I do think it would be most appropriate if His Church followed that specific example more consistently.

Do the ten commandments only apply to Jews and Christians, or are they universal laws, applicable to everyone, whether you believe or not? If yes, why?

They are universal, and if you want to encourage anyone to stop sinning, anyone is fair game and should be treated basically the same in that respect.

Speaking of which, if you’re talking to a nominally cradle Catholic on the one hand and an Evangelical never-been-a-Catholic on the other, do you treat them basically the same with respect to things like “You should obey everything that is taught by the Catholic Church”? Or is there any type of difference there?

Do you expect parents to raise their kids with a smorgasbord of options, saying: “it’s okay if you choose, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Atheism, Shintoism, etc…,” or do you expect the parents to raise their kids in what they believe?

Reality check, sir. Kids have a smorgasbord of options whether their parents like it or don’t. Will parents restrict options and limit freedom of movement? Yes indeed. Can I question whether that is always a good idea or if it is being done in a way that’s completely reasonable or right? I can and I will, in some detail if we keep going on like this.

As a side note, the only way I could think of anyone thinking it is bogus, is if there are real problems between parents and offspring. Most people, whether they think their parents were right or wrong, believe their parents were truly doing what they thought best, and would not view it as bogus.

I know some people who are super nominal with their Catholicism and don’t believe any of it at all, but they plan on baptizing their kids in a Catholic Church in order to fulfill the tradition that grandma and grandpa expect of them. Yes that is really the only reason, I asked. Then I said “Really, are you serious, who does that?” And he said “Apparently we do.”

I wonder if their kids will think that’s bogus.

Seriously, I do, I want to find out.

Do you think Jesus viewed His circumcision as bogus? After all, He didn’t ask for it.

I’m circumcised too, and I don’t think it’s bogus. It’s hygienic.

But hey, Jesus’ circumcision didn’t lock him in to one religion. He went and started a whole new world religion.

And then he was executed. Oh yeah, that happened too. That was kind of bogus.

Could one not say the same about the bible, and ten commandments? I didn’t decide which books should be in there, so I should be able to obey only the parts I want to, correct?

Technically people can remove some books from the Bible if they want to. Bazinga! :smiley:

Again though, it’s more a question of whether infant baptism and nominal membership make any noticeable difference in terms of what the obligations are (if they are properly called obligations), and does it make any difference in the way you demand (or ask nicely, maybe?) that they be fulfilled.

Are there laws in society, and the ten commandments, that you were left out of the decision making that directly affect you? And if there is, should you be expected to give obedience to them? If yes, why?

Among our enumerated rights and freedoms, I don’t think you’ll ever locate the freedom to break whatever law you want, but you will find the freedom of religion and the freedom to assemble and so forth. Perhaps there are certain rights and freedoms properly associated with religion, religious switching and lack of religion that are not properly associated with lawlessness. Now if you think that should be added- you don’t really think so, do you. But if you want to make an argument for why the Freedom of Religion concept is misguided (and do so in a country where your specific church is right around 20% of the population), go right ahead.

I suppose there is also a distinction between nationality (belonging to a particular nation) and the nation itself (a large aggregate of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language) vis a vis a religion or a particular church, each of which involve a system of belief or worship which people presumably choose to practice at will and, in a free society, are free to abandon or change at will. Unless their religion is somehow tied up in some awkward bundle along with their common descent, history, culture, or language, but that would be silly. And also potentially less free. But what is really more important, truth or freedom? Who can know. And why do they somehow wind up being at odds with each other whenever I’m talking about them in the context of Catholicism?

Keeping in mind, that since no one asks to be born, should you be able to do anything you want, with no ramifications? Should there be demands put upon you simply because you are human, or where you happen to be born?

I did keep that in mind, thank you sir. Some demands yes, other demands no, and of course the precise implications of the word “demand” are worth examining every so often as well.

Thanks. I look forward to your amazing answers.

You’re very welcome, and I think they were pretty amazing.

I swam the Tiber as an adult. I don’t think a person should blindly follow their parents, no matter what it is. It’s like some people say, “Oh no, follow your Catholic parents, but if you aren’t Catholic, don’t listen to your parents” Um, nooo. Isn’t that what confirmation is for? Aren’t teens supposed to freely choose to be confirmed? The initiation process doesn’t stop at baptism.

This is kind of a strange question. The Church proposes certain truths; she proclaims the Word of God. As such, all people should obey her, whether cradle Catholics or otherwise. An adult should be able to decide for themselves whether or not they agree with the Church-and so remain with her, or not.

well they say the second largest religious group after Catholics are e -Catholics - so some have left. I am a convert since 2008 and I have heard the cafeteria Catholics who stay are hoping to “change” the Church or hoping the Church will “change” to suit them.

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