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.
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.
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.
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.
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.