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Cafeteria Catholicism

19/01/2015

Cafeteria Catholics

We’ve been familiar for quite a while now with the idea of ‘Cappuccino Christians’ – those ‘evangelicals’ whose faith and confession of Christianity are so shallow that they resemble a popular hot drink, all froth and bubble and sweetness and with a minimum of substance. Now we seem to have another new subdivision of ‘Christendom,’ with the designation by of some Roman Catholics as ‘cafeteria catholics’. I don’t know who originally coined the term, But it seems that these are the Catholics who want to pick and choose which parts of their faith to practice from the perceived ‘menu’ of religious and ethical beliefs and practices offered by their church. Typically, the issues involved are divorce and remarriage, homosexuality, birth control, pre-marital sex and abortion.

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh, Eamonn Martin, the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, seemed to aiming a broadside at such people when he recently spoke about Catholics and abortion. He reiterated that abortion is forbidden under Catholic doctrine, and that Catholics do not have the option to support the ‘pro-choice, pro-abortion’ agenda, and Catholics do not have the right to deviate from official church dogma.

Catholics are not free to choose which teachings (on faith and morals) to obey (1)

Those who do would separate themselves from fellowship within the church and should be refused communion. He clearly sees the problem with Catholics who pick and choose what aspects of their faith they want to practice. This is not the first time that the archbishop has taken this stance. Back in 2013, the Irish Independent reported,

Archbishop Eamon Martin said that legislators who supported abortion were excommunicating themselves. He said: “You cannot regard yourself as a person of faith and support abortion.
“If a legislator comes to me and says, ‘Can I be a faithful Catholic and support abortion?’ I would say no. Your communion is ruptured if you support abortion.
“You are excommunicating yourself. Any legislator who clearly and publicly states this should not approach looking for communion. (2)

So how do the legislators feel about that? One prominent Roman Catholic politician, Northern Ireland’s joint first minister, Martin McGuinness, commented on the Archbishop’s remarks in a BBC Radio news programme.

The deputy first minister spoke to BBC’s Inside Politics last Friday. “I try and be the best Catholic I can be,” Mr McGuinness said. “The Catholic Church is made up of people who have different opinions on different issues.” (3)

So Mr McGuinness certainly wants to pick which articles of the Catholic faith he wants to believe and practice, and to reject those he doesn’t. Cafeteria Catholicism in action.

1.  http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/what-is-a-cafeteria-catholic

2. http://www.irishcentral.com/news/top-bishops-clash-over-excommunication-of-catholics-who-support-new-abortion-bill-208277631-237590991.html
3. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-30855440

From → Editorial

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