My Catholic post for the month

6 07 2011

Short and sweet:

Some people say that the problem is that most people in the pews are cafeteria Catholics.

I say that the problem is that the Church is being a cafeteria secularist.

You want to make noises about the rights of immigrants, the religiously persecuted, etc.? Well, other people make noises about an entirely different set of rights.


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12 responses

19 01 2015
Miguel de Althaus

In Peru,the Catholic Church is now composed of very powerful and conservative bishops, specially the Cardinal Archbishop of Lima, THEY are te Catholic Church, in between, the priests, imporrtnt for they administer the Sacramnets, then the flock of the know-nothing 8or supposedly so) laity who must obeyor be condemned. This is something worse than “Cafeteria Catholics”,,,,

2 10 2012
Adam Wykes

You have a great blog, and I hope to be reading this fairly regularly from here on out (not being a marxist myself, I nonetheless find it instructive to see things from your well-expressed point of view).

This post makes me want to ask where people get the idea that human rights are something derived from secular society. Was it because the term was applied to the belief when secular thinkers began to discuss it? As long as you’re willing to divorce the specific term “human rights” from what it labels, I think you’ll find that religion has been the source of thinking about the rights of humans. My religious background is also Catholic; my knowledge therefore primarily biblical (no not in THAT way ;P). In this bible thing, writers lay out a pretty specific argument for what they think humans may and may not do and why. Interestingly, those writers primarily chose to define human rights in negative terms – detailing not where they were present but instead where they were curtailed. In other words, they seem to open from the position that a human has a right to EVERYTHING, and then get down and dirty with delineating where that turns out not to be true. The new testament writers make it explicitly clear that the rights which survive this winnowing process belong to ALL human beings. From what I know of primitive cultures, it would seem that in their belief systems (especially those regarding treatment of strangers) you have at the least a rough sketch of what should be accorded human beings.

More to the point of the post, however – can you really call someone a cafeteria believer if they are discriminating between one right vs. another because of beliefs they hold, not just because it is currently convenient for them to do so? In this light, I don’t think you can call the Catholic church a cafeteria secularist (nor, as I previously explained, does that term even make much sense to me).

I’m not here to be a church apologist; there are many criticisms that can validly be leveled at that church which it is not doing enough to address. I’m just compelled to comment here given the disparity between the quality of this post’s logic and your others.

9 07 2011
cantueso

Now, as I will have a little more time, maybe I should go all through your blog and see what therewould be if the good old Catholic church were not such a wonderful subject.

It is a great subject, and its only drawback is that it draws really long series of asinine comments.

7 07 2011
owen white

Arturo,

What’s this rights bullshit? We all have to suffer, right? It seems the Church has answered your objections:

and

7 07 2011
turmarion

[M]any people seem to think that rights exist in a metaphysical sense too.

Robert A. Heinein, whose (earlier) books and stories I like and whose politics I despise, nevertheless spoke to something of what you’re saying in this quote from Starship Troopers:

Ah, yes, the ‘unalienable rights.’ Each year someone quotes that magnificent poetry. Life? What ‘right’ to life has a man who is drowning in the Pacific? The ocean will not hearken to his cries. What ‘right’ to life has a man who must die if he is to save his children? If he chooses to save his own life, does he do so as a matter of ‘right’? If two men are starving and cannibalism is the only alternative to death, which man’s right is ‘unalienable’? And is it ‘right’?

The novel is a thinly disguised political diatribe (which is why I’ve never read completely through it–the actual science fiction parts are interesting, but the rest is hard to take, unless you agree with him, which I don’t), and I wouldn’t take it as far as he does here, but it is a good point in knocking down the simplistic ideas people tend to have about “rights”.

6 07 2011
Leah

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, rights are, “entitlements (not) to perform certain actions, or (not) to be in certain states; or entitlements that others (not) perform certain actions or (not) be in certain states.” Rights in the modern sense tend to be have their origins with the state, although many people seem to think that rights exist in a metaphysical sense too. It seems to me that the Church from the French Revolution until Vatican II considered itself to be above rights. Now that the Church has been declawed from wielding any real power, it’s just another special interest group jockeying for their piece of the pie.

6 07 2011
owen white

Humanae Vitae was issued in 1968.

6 07 2011
SAM

The typical conservative who accuses liberals of being cafeteria catholics is almost always a grey area promoter and protector of the Masonic Bush dynasty that has oposed the papacy since 1962.Then senator George H vehemently spoke out against humane vitae.Not only about contraception,but about george’s concern about the over population of certain inferior races.Both Bush presidents ignored Pope jp’s pleadings to stop the cluster,blitz and terror bombings of Iraq civilians.

6 07 2011
AJ

Arturo Vásquez is posting on Louis Proyect’s blog; my cyber-universe is now a closed circle.

6 07 2011
The Western Confucian

Very perceptive.

6 07 2011
Cafeteria Catholics? | English Catholic

[…] just came across this on one of my regular blog crawls: My Catholic post for the month. Is the problem of “cafeteria Catholics” a lack of compliance with authority or something more […]

6 07 2011
Anonymous

In a rare interview in 1967 with Thomas McDonnell, [Thomas] Merton pronounced that the great crisis in the church is a crisis of authority precipitated because the church, as institution and organization, has overshadowed the reality of the church as a community of persons united in love and in Christ. He now charged that obedience and conformity with the impersonal corporation-church are a fact in the life of Christians. “The Church is preached as a communion, but is run in fact as a collectivity, and even as a totalitarian collectivity.
~ George Kilcourse, ACE OF FREEDOMS: Thomas Merton’s Christ, Notre Dame Press, 1993

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