The term “cafeteria Catholics” refers to those Catholics who pick and choose among the dogmas, dictates, and traditions (and, often, “Traditions” with a capital “T”) of the Church.
That is, if one or more items of what the Church believes is required of its faithful is disagreeable, then the picky Catholics simply ignore them. Or actively campaign against the Church for holding what these folks have decided is anathema to themselves.
All well and good, I suppose. The Roman Catholic Church has survived two millennia; it will survive all those who don’t like some aspect of dogma. Or, if the Holy Spirit so moves it, the Church will change. Just not soon enough for some.
Today we read that St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church, in Washington, D.C., will be closing its doors as a church. St. Al’s, as it is affectionately known, is the poster boy for cafeteria Catholics. It is widely-known for its “social justice” crusades. In plain English, the Jesuits who run St. Al’s are of the opinion that government is the answer to all of our problems. The polite term is “social democrats,” though I prefer the more honest “marxists.”
St. Al’s is also a place where the cafeteria Catholics were able to find a happy home. From the WaPo’s admiring (natch) story:
“This is a place where all of us who want to be Catholic can be, even if we don’t follow everything the church says we should be following,”
Then there is the widespread problem of too-few priests, which was apparently the primary cause for St. Al’s closure. Too few priests? We’ve got your answer right here, say the cafeteria people:
If the Catholic Church allowed women and married people to be ordained, she said, “They’d never have to close a church for lack of a priest.”
And if they would just sacrifice a goat every now and again, we’d get back those parishioners we lost long ago to Baal…
Back in the day, when I still was a Catholic, I attended St. Al’s for a few Masses. What I found was a political church, where the homilies would invariably talk about “social justice” and what evils were being perpetrated by the president (if he was a Republican) or the Congress (if it was controlled by Republicans).
I quit attending; went to a different Catholic church. Ultimately, I left the Roman Catholic Church because I had come to believe in a different path to salvation. The last thing I would ever expect Rome to do would be to compromise its beliefs to accommodate me. And the last thing I want from a priest or pastor is a political sermon.
St. Al’s is shuttered, but I doubt the Jesuits will abandon their politics. My lesson from this? The pulpit ought to be solely about Christ and His atoning sacrifice. Anything else doesn’t belong there, and cheapens the Gospel.