What’s wrong with being a “cafeteria Catholic”? Why does one have to believe everything the Church says even though one may not agree with it?
Soumya Prakash, McAllen, USA
A cafeteria Catholic is defined as one who picks and chooses what Catholic teaching he/she wants to believe. Catholics are not free to choose which teachings (on faith and morals) to accept and which to reject. Even when the Church has not spoken on a matter of faith or moral definitively, the faithful must give “a religious submission of the intellect and will” to its teachings (CIC 752).
The Canon Law clearly outlines the laws that are applicable to Catholics. According to it, “those baptized are fully in the communion of the Catholic Church on this earth who are joined with Christ in its visible structure by the bonds of the profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical governance” (CIC 205). Communion is a concept that means, among other things, sharing in the faith received from the Apostles, that is, the faith as articulated and proclaimed by the magisterium. Fully in communion with the Catholic Church means having faith in everything she proposes as worthy of faith. “The Christian faithful, even in their own manner of acting, are always obliged to maintain communion with the Church” (CIC 209). Hence, communion is a sign of unity with the Church, and one can’t be in unity if one dissents the teaching Office of the Church (CIC 748 – 754; CCC 949).