What is a “cafeteria Catholic”?

Full Question

I frequently hear the term “cafeteria Catholic.” Exactly what does this mean?


A cafeteria Catholic is typically defined as one who picks and chooses what Catholic teaching he wants to believe. Catholics are not free to choose which teachings (on faith and morals) to obey.

Even when the Church has not spoken on a matter of faith or morals definitively (infallibly), the faithful must give “a religious submission of the intellect and will” to its teachings (CIC 752).


1 comment

  1. Patrick Gannon Reply

    In that case, virtually all US female Catholics are Cafeteria Catholics:

    “NFP (non-hormonal birth control) isn’t very popular among the faithful. Only 2 percent of U.S. Catholic women of childbearing age actually use this method, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Meanwhile, according to a 2014 poll by Univision, 79 percent of Catholics around the world support the use of other forms of contraception. Previous polling has reported that 82 percent of American Catholics say birth control is “morally acceptable,” and 98 percent of U.S. Catholic women of childbearing age have used contraception at some point while they’ve been sexually active.”

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