PopeWatch: Cafeteria Catholics

Father Z takes on the accusation that orthodox critics of Pope Francis are cafeteria Catholics:


First, Jesuit Thomas Reese wrote (at the horrid RNS), about how more conservative Catholics are now “cafeteria Catholics” because they disagree with Pope Francis.  But there are some problems with his argument.

More Catholic than the pope


Four cardinals (two of whom have recently gone to their eternal reward) criticized the pope publicly in 2016 by issuing what they called a “dubia,” asking the pope to clarify what they considered his straying from the true faith. [No.  They did not criticize the Pope.  They asked, rather humbly, for clarifications of what he really means to teach.] Last month, several dozen theologians accused the pope of spreading heresy.  [No. The Correctio Filialis does not accuse the Pope of spreading heresy.  It states that the Pope has caused confusion through negligence.  That’s not nothing, but it isn’t a direct accusation of here, as Reese falsely claimed.]


These criticisms of Pope Francis put progressive Catholics in an awkward position. Progressives are big fans of Francis, but it would be somewhat hypocritical of them to suddenly become papal absolutists when they clearly had disagreements with Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. On the other hand, conservatives who are now critical of Francis accused progressives of being “cafeteria Catholics” when they disagreed with John Paul or Benedict. [No.  When they disagree with the CHURCH’s teaching, such as on the issue of the ordination of women or contraception, etc.]

All I can say is, “Welcome to the cafeteria.”  [Um… no.  Some of us don’t want to be in the cafeteria at all and we refuse to enter.]

The truth is all Catholics are cafeteria Catholics. [No.  We don’t accept the premise.]  Conservative Catholics were quite willing to ignore John Paul’s and Benedict’s strong statements on justice and peace, [No.  That’s not the case.] and progressive Catholics are happy to ignore Francis’ opposition to women priests.

Disagreeing with the pope was not welcomed during the papacies of John Paul and Benedict. [Does he seriously think that FRANCIS welcomes disagreement?!?] Bishops, priests, theologians, and Catholic publications were expected to unreservedly cheer any statement that came out of Rome. [For those of you who don’t know, Reese was sacked as editor of Jesuit-run America because of its increasingly heterodoxy.  He is still grinding his axe.] Priests were silenced, [that’s happening now] seminary professors were removed, and magazine editors were fired if they strayed from the party line. The open debate that occurred during the Second Vatican Council was closed down. [Pure fantasy.] Candidates for the episcopacy were chosen based on loyalty to Rome rather than on intelligence or pastoral abilities. [B as in B. S as in S.  How insulting.]


Enough of that.  All he is trying to do is justify liberal dissent.  We are unconvinced.


Go here to read the rest.  Resisting the attempt by Pope Francis to transform Leftist politics into Catholic dogma is being a loyal Catholic, not a cafeteria Catholic.  The attempt to transform the Church into a political party is an assault on the Bride of Christ and must be resisted at all hazards.  No one is holier than the Church and that includes the Pope.

More to explorer


  1. Thomas Reese clearly believes what the Jesuits tried to teach me back in high school, that the truth is in the gray. In other words, he believes the truth is relative. It’s not, it’s a person. That’s what Thomas Reese should believe, and what the Jesuits should have taught me.

  2. It’s ironic that he uses the term cafeteria Catholic to make his dull point. Ironic because the picking and choosing of what one likes and doesn’t has no equal when viewing the ambiguity of Amoris Laetitia. Following your conscience, formed or not, is soup of the day with Francis’ menu. Why does he feel the need to buck the teachings and interpretations of intelligent theologians before him?

    If any cafeteria Catholic baloney is being dished out one needs only to look at the pickings​ of our current Pope.

  3. Reese would suppress the Tridentine Mass. I have little interest in the stylings of someone whose only problem with tyranny is that he’s not the tyrant.

  4. In fact, I view Catholic teaching more as a Smorgasbord than a cafeteria. There’s lots of good stuff there, some of which is more appealing to the intellectual appetite. And sometimes we have to wait a bit, to digest that of which we’ve partaken.

  5. On the ordination of women. If God wanted a person to be ordained to the Holy Priesthood, that person would have been born a man and called to the Sacrament of Holy Orders through a vocation. God’s final word on the ordination of women is that you are born a woman not a man.
    In C. S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters the devils feast on crunchy souls who refused to follow Jesus and found themselves the main course in hell’s cafeteria.

  6. I’d be interested to hear Fr. Reese try to parse Pope Francis’ declaration,
    through Archbishop Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission
    Ecclesia Dei, that the SSPX may be regularized with the larger Church
    despite the Society’s rejection of certain Vatican II documents, notably
    Nostra Aetate. If the Pope has declared that the SSPX may in
    good conscience withhold assent from non-dogmatic Vatican II documents
    like NA, then how does Fr. Reese presume to declare that those faithful
    who withhold their assent from the similarly non-dogmatic Amoris
    ? Clearly, withholding assent from non-dogmatic Vatican
    pronouncements does not make one a “cafeteria Catholic”. With all
    due respect, Fr. Reese should go pound sand.


  7. We now have Opus Dei jumping on the Reese anti-anti Pope Francis bandwagon. I guess protecting one’s privileges, rather than truth, is the key motivator among today’s Church hierarchy.

  8. “Dang it, Bob, now my brain is trying to force a potluck metaphor…one where you have to eat some of the dishes, but the rest are optional….”

    I was thinking of Thanksgiving Dinner where you have to eat Auntie May’s sweet potato casserole with those little marshmallows on top but look forward to different choices of pie.

  9. EVERYthing on the regular Catholic Smorgasbord is good– you can’t go wrong with any of it. With the modern media view of the so called catholic cafeteria one would have to be more judicious.

  10. I remember how Fr. Reese wilted like herbs in an oven when he learned Pope Benedict has been elected to the papacy. On television yet.

  11. Phillip– yep, it sort of works if you go from the kid angle where you don’t even understand all of WHY you need this, this and this dish, but the rest is according to taste.

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