A Cafeteria Catholic, or Catholic in name only, is someone who is a member of the Roman Catholic church and yet picks and chooses which of the Church's doctrines he will believe. As Pope Leo Xii In particular, those terms are often used to refer to a self-identified Catholic who rejects 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 gay marriage. This is in direct opposition to what Catholics are taught. By no means is the practice exclusive to Democrats. Catholic Republicans who believe in the necessity of capital punishment are also considered Cafeteria Catholics. The Church decries capital punishment as unBiblical. However, the Church teaches that the guilty put to death in no way equals the innocent death of children in the womb, an intrinsic Evil.
Other examples of the pick-and-choose approach include Catholics who deny there is a Hell, deny the miracle of transubstantiation and the place of the eucharist as the most important of the seven sacraments,, deny that Mary was not Immaculate,, or deny other core teachings of the Church (apostacy). By Canon law, a Catholic believing contrary to certain truths taught by the Universal, Ordinary and Solemn Magisteria may be guilty of heresy or worse, apostasy, and should not take Holy Communion. 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.
- Joe Biden
- Stephen Colbert
- Rudy Giuliani
- Ted Kennedy
- George Pataki
- Nancy Pelosi
- Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:14-20; John 6:53–58; Code of Canon Law of 1983 1396
- Encyclical Munificentissimus Deus, etc.
- Encyclical Sapaentiae Christianae: "to refuse to believe in any one of [dogmas of the Church] is equivalent to rejecting all of them."
- Who Is a Roman Catholic? Cultural Catholics