Cafeteria Catholics Wear Red as Well as Blue

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Surly Girl https://www.flickr.com/photos/jm_photos/
Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Surly Girl https://www.flickr.com/photos/jm_photos/

It was a rout.

They knocked one another down, running away from Him.

The temple guards tried to catch John Mark by grabbing his clothes. When his clothes tore lose, Mark ran away naked into the night like a panicked bunny rabbit.

A few days before, John and James had been arguing over who would sit at the places of honor in His Kingdom.

Now, they ran.

It was ignominious defeat, an end to all their boasting and bragging about their great loyalty.

Jesus has suffered many Gethsemanes since that night, many times when His followers ran from Him and straight into the maw of the world. People stampede the same as a herd of cattle. When they are panicked, they will run right over a cliff and to their destruction.

We are the weakest of followers for a Heavenly King. The question isn’t why we choose Him. The question is why He chooses us.

Given our behavior, that question is so confounding that only one answer is possible. That answer is love. He loves us, and love makes all things right, even our tawdry behavior.

The disciples ran that night because they were panicked, afraid for their lives. They also ran because, as Jesus told them, This is satan’s hour. 

But satan doesn’t have just one hour. His taunts and beguilements are an ever-renewing source of spite, hate, malice and lies. This time in which we live is every bit as much satan’s hour as that night in the garden.

Satan will use any doorway into us, including what we think of as our faithfulness to Him. One clear sign that we can use to discern that we are on the wrong path is when we begin to base our righteousness on the sins of other people.

That is the first sin of cafeteria Catholics, of the red and the blue, the left and right. They are forever attacking one another and claiming righteousness for themselves based on the sins of the other.

Cafeteria Catholics of the left claim, often rightfully, that those on the right ignore the cries of the poor, that their economic policies concentrate wealth in a few hands and impoverish all others. They are accurate when they say that this is not free enterprise, because it isn’t. It is corporate fascism, the corporatism that has been consistently condemned by every recent pope.

Cafeteria Catholics of the right claim, often rightfully, that those on the left attack the human, that they seek to destroy the very foundations of civilization with their destructive nihilism. Abortion, gay marriage, mutilating surgeries used on mentally ill people, euthanasia, egg harvesting, porn; these are the crimes of the left.

Both groups condemn the pope and the Church for violating the “teachings” of their side. The Pope is a sign of contradiction to this world. Cafeteria Catholics of both the right and left react violently when the Holy Father’s teachings contradict and lay bare their own departures from following Christ.

They don’t respond to this revelation that they are walking outside the faith with humility and a desire to change. They don’t even do as I often do when the Pope’s teachings contradict my shibboleths, by twisting and turning, arguing and complaining, before I ultimately give in and follow.

Hardened cafeteria Catholics respond to the teachings from the pope that contradict their politics by going into spittle-throwing, self-righteous rages. They attack and defame the pope himself for calling them to a conversion they do not want to make.

Cafeteria Catholics of the right have, for many years, condemned and excoriated anyone who departed from what they termed obedience to the Holy Father and the Magisterium of the Church.  Their brittle self-righteousness in condemning everyone who departed from their standard of faithfulness has driven many people from the Church, turned people away from Christ.

It was not their faithfulness that drove people away. It was their self-righteousness, their ugly use of the Church as a club to beat their political opponents over the head.

But when the pope, this Pope, dares to teach the truth about corporate fascism, they turn hard about 180 degrees and attack the Church, and the Holy Father themselves. I have deleted the most appalling comments about Pope Francis in the past 24 hours, comments that come from the pit of spiritual death.

That, of course, is nothing new. I delete appalling comments about the pope and the Church almost every day.

Cafeteria Catholics on the left chime in on a regular basis, letting me know that the Church has failed to live up to their self-righteous standards, as well. The Church, they say, is cruel and has no compassion because it “condemns” the sick and elderly to suffering when a good dose of poison would end it for them.

The Church is cruel because, while it admits anyone, including homosexuals, it will not tell homosexuals that their sins are not sins.

The Church supposedly hates women because it will not support them in killing their children with abortion.

Both sides, cafeteria Catholics of the right and the left, the red and the blue, abandon the Church founded by Christ the Lord to bend their knee and give their loyalty to the false gods of this world. Both sides, cafeteria Catholics of the right and the left, seek to limit the Church’s teaching to areas that goad the other guy’s ox and not theirs.

Jesus Christ doesn’t mean all that much to either side. They will abandon Him on behalf of their political philosophies anytime. Any time at all.

They do not follow the Vicar of Christ. They follow the pundits and talking heads who taught them this false gospel of self-righteousness and condemnation of others in the first place. They are comfortable in their mushy wallows of false doctrine and self-congratulation. They like pointing the finger at the other guy and declaring that he is not faithful, while, they proclaim, they themselves are absolutely faithful.

Left wing cafeteria Catholics loved to attack Pope Benedict XVI. They piled onto Pope John Paul II. But they’ve decided to patronize Pope Francis by misinterpreting what he says to fit their politics. They are attempting what the right wing accomplished by doing the same thing with the teachings of the earlier popes: Self deification.

Right wing cafeteria Catholics breathe fire at Pope Francis. I’ve deleted comments from them that say outrageous things about him. This is especially poignant, coming as it does from people who have long based their claims to righteousness on their faithfulness to the teachings of the Church.

In truth, neither group of cafeteria Catholics is looking for leadership from the Pope. What they both want is validation of their sins. That, and holy verbiage they can use to condemn their enemies in the wars of this world.

They aren’t looking for redemption and forgiveness. They have no use for salvation that comes at the price of a cross. They have convinced themselves that they don’t need it.

They are so certain of their theological omniscience that they lecture the pope on Church teaching. They are so proud of their righteousness that they use themselves for the measure by which they judge what is right and what is wrong.

Cafeteria Catholics are exactly like the political movements they have made the lords of their lives. The only difference is that the puppet masters at the top of these movements know what they are doing. They got their 30 pieces of silver.

Their followers down below do not have the respect of those on top these movements. These hapless souls who’ve sold their birthright for a bowl of pundit porridge are just things to be used by those they follow.

Do not run away from the Lord of all life. Do not feed your salvation to the dogs of this world.

The simplest way to know that you are following Christ is to follow the teachings of the Catholic Church. Scripture tells us to Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. 

I would make that more explicit. I would say trust the Vicar of Christ and do not follow the pied pipers of the media and the internet to your own destruction.

Save. Your. Soul.

Turn your back on the death-dealing philosophies of this world, whether they are from the right or the left.

Choose Christ.

"I agree with your point, but wouldn't label them "life issues" so much as "fetal ..."

Is Jeff Sessions Confirmation a Tragedy ..."
"Bill Clinton is also 70, so by your logic most likely has his predatory days ..."

Is Jeff Sessions Confirmation a Tragedy ..."
"I'll just chime in as another Staten Islander who will keep you in my prayers."

Benign … Rewind
"Bless you, Rebecca. Hard times, but God remains good. All the time."

Benign … Rewind

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Antiphon411

    I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat. I don’t participate in the division of spoils among thieves and liars that is democracy. I detest all Liberalism, Classical (GOP Liberalism) and Progressive (Democrat Liberalism).

    I study my Faith and I know what the Church teaches. Francis makes me profoundly uncomfortable, but so did JPII and often enough BXVI. It is my impression that there was a vein of Liberalism to a greater or lesser degree in all of them.

    I was a group leader in a summer study of JPII’s “Theology of the Body” and found it hogwash at best and deeply contrary to traditional teachings about virtue and the married state. Francis’s lack of clarity is most troubling. Apart from BXVI’s freeing of the Traditional Latin Mass and all that went with it, I don’t remember anything particularly traditional about his papacy.

    It does not have to boil down to earthly politics. I’m tired of the myopia that thinks everything has to fit onto the USA R-D spectrum. USA view of politics is extremely limited and simplistic.

    • The Messenger

      Jesus Christ was a Liberal – an advocate for the least amongst us. The GOP does not follow the teachings of Christ in any way, shape or form yet they are the first ones to tell you what GREAT Christians they are. They are all about to get their comeuppance.

      • hamiltonr

        I disagree. I don’t think Jesus was a liberal, or a conservative. Jesus is God. He loves all of us, including the least of these and He calls us to love one another in the same way.

        As for Republicans, they have, to their great merit, taken up the defense of life as a party. They do this imperfectly and for political reasons, true. But this is far better than the Democrat’s attacks on the sanctity of life and their support for nihilistic innovations such as gay marriage.

        On the other hand, the Democrats truly are more focused on the needs of the least of these, including in areas that are clearly pro life and pro family such as maternity leave, prenatal care and a living wage.

        The bottom line here is that neither party is Christian, even though both parties have Christians who are active within them. The leadership of the Ds has, under President Obama, become hostile toward traditional Christians in a manner that goes so far as to attack the First Amendment.

        We need to get away from the idea that we can find God in a political party. This is, to put it bluntly, heresy.

        What we need to do — and I believe this so much I write this blog to try to talk about it — is to follow Christ in an absolute and unconditional manner, whichever party we are in. We need also to trim our politics to suit our faith, not the other way around.

        This can and does leave plenty of room for discussion and disagreement about the best ways to live out our faith. That is healthy and will in the long run lead to much better government. But Jesus Christ MUST be more important to us than our politics. Otherwise, our faith is a sham.

        • The Messenger

          They have taken up the defense of life, UNTIL that child is born and then it is up to the parent to figure it out, since they are cutting needed resources like SNAP to the poorest Americans, many of whom are US Veterans, so the richest 1% can keep their tax cuts and live the life of luxury. I live in Ohio and when Sister Simone Campbell (of NUNS ON THE BUS) came here to preach a more Liberal doctrine of Christianity and condemn Paul Ryan’s SHAMEFUL budget, Tea Party “Patriots” showed up and called them BUMS ON THE BUS.

          As to LGBT, I suggest you go back and read the book of Genesis wherein it states rather succinctly that god made THEM in his own image – male and female, he made THEM. It is not until several verses later that the bible states he separated THEM and fashioned Eve from Adam. The first living human being on the planet was NOT male but an androgynous being. There are an awful lot of Christians who want to condemn others for the way that God created them – the same way he created ALL of us. We are ALL both male and female to differing degrees.

          It states in the Book of Malachi that God will send his MESSENGER in advance of the return of Jesus Christ, and that Messenger would perfect the wisdom of “the elect” at the end of the age. What if that Messenger (also known as the “son of man” in multiple ancient texts in Judaism), was a woman with a man’s name, who articulated what I have just articulated? And suppose this woman with a man’s name was also a Liberal Democrat? Would you THEN believe that Jesus was a Liberal?

          Just asking….LOL

          The Messenger

          • hamiltonr

            Jesus is God.

            Both liberals and conservatives can be totally devout and sincere in following him and still disagree with one another. That is because people of good will can and do look at the same problem and see different solutions.

            When I speak of right wing corporatism or lift wing nihilism, I am speaking of something else entirely. What I am referring to is a godless idolatry on both sides of the political spectrum.

            As for Jesus Christ the Lord, He is God, which is considerably above being a liberal or a conservative.

            • AnneG

              Rebecca, I understand what you mean by corporatism, now. But, I don’t see it as being a R thing. George Soros is left of D and has been donating, I think the number is over $1 billion to try to buy the presidency as well as a number of other causes. Tom Steyer, huge hedge fund manager and super rich, is donating all over to control US industry and is one of the biggest D bundlers. Jeff Bezos owns WaPo now and is a big D donor, not to mention Planned Parenthood.
              I see it in my state, too, where we had a one party state for a long time till very recently. I see it in Texas, on the R side, too, but I don’t think either is immune or free, unless they have a minuscule following.

              • hamiltonr

                Very true Anne. It’s actually more intertwined than you show here. The Ds do the bidding of corporatists at the time. The difference is the Rs — at the top levels — are wholly owned by them. It’s not a subtle difference, but it certainly is not enough to give us hope of countering corporatism by following either party.

                I keep saying it all the time, both parties are corrupt.

          • AnneG

            That’s not Catholic teaching. Btw, did you know that sodomy is one of only four sins in Scripture that cry out to Heaven?

        • The Messenger

          Oh, one more thing…it states very clearly in the Bible that the kingdom will be given over to the “Saints of the Most High” and that many of the elect would be FOOLED. Savor that for just a moment. It is not heresy to say that God favors TRUE Christians who love one another, as Christ instructed us. Today’s most prominent Christians, like Matt Barber, Pat Robertson and others of their ilk are the LEAST in the Kingdom of God. All they do, all day long, is make up outrageous lies about Democrats. They are FALSE APOSTLES, who love themselves more than they love God or their fellow man.

          • hamiltonr

            It goes both ways Messenger. When I was in office, I was personally slandered and lied about in the most outrageous way by preachers of the right when I was pro choice, and then later, by preachers of the left when I was pro life. There’s no difference between them that I can see.

          • AnneG

            Messenger, honey, Pat Robertson isn’t a “prominent Christian” any more.
            Rick Warren and Franklin Graham are much more prominent and excellent examples of sacrificial giving and Christian charity, and they get along well with Catholics.
            Dems aren’t God’s chosen, either, btw. Let’s see, Ezekiel Emmanuel encourages withholding medical care from anyone over 75, abortion for any “defective” baby and other eugenic acts. Cecile Richards thinks abortion at any time is fine and Justice Ruth Ginsburg said we needed to control the population of the wrong kind of people.
            It isn’t about politics, it’s about loving God with all your heart, mind and soul and your neighbor as yourself.

        • AnneG

          Rebecca, both you and “The Messenger,” please consider this. The Republican Party establishment may be exactly as you say, corporatist and ignorant of the needs of the poor. However, if you look in places, especially at the local level, that have been voting R for a couple generations, you see a very different picture. My parish, just a normal, huge parish in the burbs, sponsors and founded dozens of ministries that affect real people with real needs, directly. We do everything from local, cooperative grocery ministry, meals for the homeless in Raleigh, meals for migrant agriculture workers, aid to women in crisis pregnancies and domestic violence situations, tax preparation assistance, prison ministry, you get the idea, but I could go on.
          I see these things done in conservative communities all the time. Statistics and studies bear this out. If you look at charitable giving in just money, the poorest and most conservative states are the most generous while wealthy states, Connecticut being #50 in giving while #1 in income.
          I believe in subsidiarity and solidarity as the Church teaches. We can best solve problems and help our own neighbors. The State House needs to stay out of the way.

          • hamiltonr

            We’re talking apples and oranges Anne. I certainly don’t mean good people with conservative leanings to their politics. I’m referring to the cold-blooded puppet masters who run the two political parties.

            • AnneG

              Yep, I agree. Some of the establishment in both parties are Machiavellian. When anybody starts in about how conservatives hate the poor, though, I want to ask when was the last time they bought diapers for the food bank.

              • hamiltonr

                lol

          • http://frustratedpodcast.com AnonCollie

            Even if what you say is true that doesn’t make Republican party good. Not by far. What it tells me is that those local Rs you’re championing aren’t doing enough to challenge the toxic culture of their party at the top.

            • hamiltonr

              We’re all guilty of that, I’m afraid. Rank and file Ds and Rs both.

            • AnneG

              AnonCollie, please, fact check me. I think the latest was a Pew study within the last 4 or so years.
              If you have an open mind, it may help.

      • AnneG

        You sound just like Gustavo Gutiérrez.

      • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

        Liberals hate the least among us- they kill the unborn. The genocide of the unborn is to Republicans what the poor are to Democrats- convenient fodder to win elections.

        And both are liberals. Neither is Christ.

        • http://frustratedpodcast.com AnonCollie

          Christ is not conservative either; that much is evident of his criticisms of conservative Judaism of his time.

          Like Rebecca said, God is God. Liberal and Conservative have nothing to do with it.

          • AnneG

            Conservative and Liberal come from 19th and 20th century politics. They really don’t apply to Scripture, Biblical circumstances or culture. They are modern concepts.
            The ruling elite, the priestly class in Jerusalem and Herod, the Roman installed, false king, Herod and his dynasty, were typical of their time. They controlled things by controlling access to the Temple, first. Rome just wanted peace and quiet and, would use whatever means necessary to ensure that, witness what happened in 70AD.
            So, they are not applicable terms for faith. There are prudential judgments that we should us to direct our actions.

        • The Messenger

          Oh, is that a fact? Another smug, know it all Christian. I’m a Liberal and a member of the Christian LEFT. You know nothing about me or any other member of the Christian Left. Typical holier than thou Rethuglican.

          • hamiltonr

            Messenger, I’m going to allow this — once — for teaching purposes.

            We do not call people names on this blog. We especially do not call Ted names.

            I delete this kind of stuff without discussion.

            • The Messenger

              GOOD…delete ALL of my posts then since the system won’t let me do it. You will find out SOON ENOUGH who I am and there won’t be any smug replies from any of you, including TED.

              • Razor Maclennan

                anger, hate and veiled threats towards others, who don’t agree with you, is not a good thing.

              • AnneG

                “The Messenger,” Stephen Turner, I don’t know the source of your anger, but we are having a discussion. It is ok to disagree in charity. I don’t call Democrats or even Socialists names.
                I’m a Catholic first, then a conservative and, yes, I vote R, usually, because they actually believe in my values.

    • AnneG

      Americans have a bogglingly myopic view of teachings from the Church. Unlike Europeans who tend to ignore the Church, do what they want, and sleep with anybody they want, Americans take every word personally.
      Latins have a very Roman view of law, teaching and standards. They may know what they should do but they view the should as the “perfect”. They tend to do what is expedient and ask forgiveness when they get caught because life is complicated. I think that’s the way Pope Francis operates, too. He knows people won’t be perfect, but he tells us how, in a very Latin, Jesuit way. Then, Europeans ignore him, Latins nod and go do what they see as necessary and Americans bitch and moan that they don’t like what he said. It’s a Universal Church.

  • Stephen Skinner

    A good article, well thought out and written. I am glad someone wrote an article like this on this subject. As Pope Francis says we are not to be liberals or conservatives but people of Gospel. (definitely a paraphrase of what he originally said).

  • Benedetti

    We are going to see red cafeteria Catholics coming out of the woodwork after the release of Laudato Si tomorrow just as they did after Evangelii Gaudium. Watch for the phony Catholics on Fox news especially. The cafeteria Catholics on the left need no introduction. They have been in our face since the release of Humanae Vitae in 1968

  • samton909

    Corporate fascists? Don’t you think that is a bit over the top?

    • hamiltonr

      No. I don’t.

      • JMC

        I don’t either. Corporations lay people off in the name of “downsizing,” but then the ones that are left have to pick up the slack. This means working longer hours; kind of sounds like the Egyptians telling the Hebrews they had to find their own straw, but they still had to make the same number of bricks each day. In a lot of places, people are working twelve-hour shifts, and not getting paid overtime simply because the company has put them on salary instead of an hourly wage. Conditions have reverted to what they were at the beginning of the 20th century. There are places that won’t even hire you if you’re not willing to work on Sunday…and I’m not talking about places where it’s necessary, like hospitals, police stations, etc.
        .
        Still think “corporate fascism” is over the top?

    • Benedetti

      Look what several corporations did to pressure Indiana to gut its bill to protect religious people who do not want to support gay ‘marriage’
      This only a minor incident compared to much greater corporate evils.

  • Recusant

    As I currently working overtime, taking care of an infant, trying to move into a house, be a loving husband to my wife, and have some sliver of time to sleep, may I ask when I have time to read this elephantine text? Can I get some cliff notes?

    1. Did anything that was not morally binding before become morally binding? If so, what are they?

    2. As much of this is written for the heads of government and industry, what is it’s relevance to me?

    3. How about a thorough, concise, and readable encyclical on the long-forgotten sin of usury? That at least might make some heads on both the Left and Right spin.

    • hamiltonr

      I’m going to give you cliff notes. But I’ve got to read it myself first. Hopefully, your local bishop will do the same.

  • David Naas

    Wonderful article.
    I have downloaded the latest encyclical, but haven’t yet made time to read it. My suspicion is it will be a lot like Rerum novarum, where ‘socialism’ is condemned but the rights of labor are affirmed. That it, there will be enough to offend everyone.
    It is amusing/sad/reprehensible that so many professed Christians, of whatever church, inform their faith by their politics instead of the proper way. C. S. Lewis spoke to this, that their religion becomes “Christ plus X”, then “X plus Christ”, and finally it is simply “X”.

  • jenmikeolson

    ABSOLUTELY. 100%. SPOT ON. CORRECT. Could not have said it any better myself. Though I’ve tried. As Catholics, our duty it to be both/and. Not either/or. Thank you Ms. Hamilton.

  • Michelle

    Now THIS is a great article, and if you could help, would you please let me know book, chapter and verse that you quoted, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” I love my father, but when he gets into one of his conservative arguments, it takes every ounce of patience to peacefully bow out of the conversation. AMEN AMEN…our Lord doesn’t wish for us to be left or right, he wishes for us to follow Him.

    • hamiltonr

      It’s from Proverbs. I think it’s chapter 3 near the beginning of the chapter, about verse 4 or 5. I just quoted it from memory.

  • JMC

    Gee, this sounds an awful lot like the factions within the Sanhedrin and the Pharisees at the time of Christ. There’s nothing new under the sun… ;D

    • hamiltonr

      Give them time, JMC. The pope has just called a lot of people to conversion. It takes a while to accept that, but most Catholics will come around and follow their Holy Father. That’s what we do.