I generally like Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s blog; but this morning I read one that is just off base. Called “The Rise of Conservative Cafeteria Catholicism,” it attacks conservative Catholics for being critical of Pope Francis, saying that they have now become “Cafeteria Catholics.”
Fr. Longenecker defines a liberal cafeteria Catholic as among other things “a liberal who picked peace and justice issues but was silent on abortion….picked up on the fellowship of the Lord’s Supper but declined the idea of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass….[they] liked the authority of the individual conscience but put Humanae Vitae on one side.”
“Now,” says Fr. Longenecker, “with Pope Francis the cafeteria Catholics are the conservatives. They splutter and fume at Pope Francis….they disagree with him about this and reject his words about that just as avidly and with as much fervor as the liberals used to reject Pope Benedict.”
First of all, I see precious little in the conservative Catholic press critical of Pope Francis. Second, I know of no conservative Catholic who would disagree with Pope Francis on matters of faith and morals.
Cafeteria Catholics who are liberal are not generally just “silent on abortion.” Those who are politicians actively support pro-abortion laws and regulations like the HHS Mandate. Those in the general public vote for these politicians. Such actions put one on the road to hell.
If we conservatives are critical about Pope Francis for his remarks, say, on homosexuality when talking to reporters on the way home from World Youth Day, it is because they were ambiguous about the moral issue of homosexuality in a time when Catholics are fighting same-sex “marriage” in countries throughout the world. We have all had those words used against us. However, no one suggests that Pope Francis is pro-same-sex “marriage.”
Being critical of Pope Francis’s words in this case will not put one on the road to hell. Nor will disagreeing with his emphasis on what issues are most important in the world today.
Except on matters of faith and morals, no pope is above criticism – from liberals or conservatives. All Catholics, liberal or conservative, must abide by the Church’s teachings on matters of faith and morals. A cafeteria Catholic is one who picks and chooses which of those teachings he follows. I don’t think conservative Catholics do that.