Last modified on April 28, 2021, at 16:08

Cafeteria Catholic

A Cafeteria Catholic, or Catholic in name only is someone who self-identifies as a member of the Roman Catholic church and yet picks and chooses which of the Church's doctrines to believe. In particular, those terms are often used to refer to a self-identified Catholic who rejects the Vatican's instructions, Canon law and Papal Encyclicals directing Catholics to abhor abortion as murder.

Catholic Democrats may be associated with Cafeteria Catholics because their party ideology believes in abortion as a "right" and also in same-sex "marriage". This is in direct opposition to what Catholics are taught.

The biggest peril to Cafeteria Catholics is to incur in automatic excommunication, or "latae sententiae" excommunication, which results in eternal damnation in hell. Among other reasons, abortion, heresy and apostasy are some that results in this kind of excommunication from the Church. According to encyclical "Divini Redemptoris" and edict "DECRETUM CONTRA COMMUNISMUM" by Pope Pius XII, it is declared that Catholics that "openly declare the materialistic and anti-Christian doctrine of the communists, and especially (...) defend or propagate them" are to be considered apostates and incur an automatic excommunication, no longer being part of the Church. Pope John XXIII, in 1959, confirmed this position of the Church and further declared that "catholics are not allowed to (in elections) give their votes to parties or candidates that, even not proclaiming themselves communists, support this ideology".

Other examples of the pick-and-choose approach include Catholics who deny there is a Hell,[1] deny any one the sacraments,[2] including the miracle of transubstantiation, that "in the sacrament of the eucharistic bread, the unity of all believers who form one body in Christ"[3] and "all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it",[4] that Mary was Immaculate,[5] fundamental church teachings regarding the creation of the souls of men,[6] or deny other core teachings of the Church (apostasy).[7] By Canon law, a Catholic in a state of mortal sin should not take Holy Communion except where there is a grave reason and no opportunity to confess.[8] These truths are not defined in a single teaching and may be difficult to discern, which is a false conundrum cafeteria Catholics rely on to deny faith rather than learn and explore. Some Cafeteria Catholics ignore this and take Communion anyway, which is a Mortal Sin. The Church believes that such a person is separated from the Holy Spirit, even without direct excommunication from Church authorities. Alternatively, some cafeteria Catholics are very sensitive to the difficulty their compromised faith presents and in picking and choosing which sacraments and Canons to honor may abstain from defiling the eucharist by feasting in a state of sin.

An extreme form of a cafeteria Catholic is a cultural Catholic. A cultural Catholic is someone who has a strong emotional attachment to Catholic social and cultural identity, but who does not understand Catholicism and does not seriously follow its ethical teaching. The majority of Catholics in the world are believed to be cultural Catholics.[9] Divorce and abortion rates among Catholics are identical to the secular society as a whole, showcasing the effects of the Cultural Catholic.


See also


  1. Matthew 5:29; 8:12; 10:28; 13:42; 25:41, 46; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Revelation 21:8, New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, Existence of Hell
  2. Council of Trent, Decree on the Sacraments, Canon One
  3. Lumen Gentum, 3 and 11
  4. Catechism of the Catholic Church 1324
  5. Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus 18. "God, the King of the universe, has granted you favors that surpass nature. As he kept you a virgin in childbirth, thus he has kept your body incorrupt in the tomb and has glorified it by his divine act of transferring it from the tomb."
  6. Humani Generis 36
  7. Encyclical Sapaentiae Christianae: "to refuse to believe in any one of [dogmas of the Church] is equivalent to rejecting all of them." See also, Council of Trent, Decree on the Sacrements, Canon One.
  8. Code of Canon Law 916. A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible.
  9. Who Is a Roman Catholic? Cultural Catholics