"Cafeteria Catholics" are typically defined as Catholics who "pick and choose" what doctrines of the Church they follow, as if they were in a cafeteria, picking and choosing what foods appeal to them.
However, Catholics are not free to pick and choose what doctrines to believe.
We are obligated to give our religious assent to all teachings of the Church on faith and morals.
(And here, by "not free" we of course don't mean that Catholics aren't ABLE to pick and choose. Of course, we all have the ability to pick and choose, thanks to the gift of our free will. What is meant is that "picking and choosing" is not sanctioned or permitted .)
We can't read the Catechism and metaphorically tear out the pages we don't like.
As Apologist John Martignoni writes:
You want to call yourself Catholic, but you want to pick and choose for yourself which of the Church's teachings to accept and which to reject, you give everyone else who calls themselves Catholic the right to do the same thing.
For example, you believe women should be priests...in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1577 states, "Only a baptized man validly receives ordination...For this reason the ordination of women is not possible!" You don't believe that...well, that's fine...[RIP] just tear that page out of your Catechism...you just made it a Catechism of your Catholic Church...not mine.But remember, if you can throw doctrines out, so can everyone else who calls themselves Catholic. That gives Joe Parishioner over at St. Doubting Thomas Catholic Church the right to throw out the Church's social justice teachings...he doesn't feel like feeding the hungry, caring for the poor, and all that other "bleeding heart" stuff - Paragraphs 2401 -2463 [RIP]...he just made it a Catechism of his Catholic Church...not mine and not yours.You believe contraception is okay? Paragraph 2370 says contraception is intrinsically evil! [RIP] Joe Parishioner doesn't like what the Church teaches on the death penalty - Paragraphs 2266-2267[RIP]. You don't like what it teaches on pages 55-60 [RIP]. He doesn't like what it teaches on pages 128-140 [RIP]Can you see what's happening? I heard it said once that there is a shortage of vocations to the priesthood in the United States, but no shortage of vocations to the Papacy! If we don't believe in all of it, if we each appoint ourselves Pope and throw out a doctrine here or a doctrine there, then our faith is no longer Catholic.
The Catholic faith is a seamless garment, given to us once for all. Removing one thread of the garment, because it's not to our tastes, leads logically to the unraveling of another thread, which, eventually destroys the entire thing.
This cartoon illustrates quite trenchantly how denial of one tenet logically leads to the denial of another tenet, which eventually leads to denial of all the basic fundamentals of the faith:
I think that it makes sense that if there is a God, then, by definition, He is going to command some things, assert some truths, obligate us to believe in some ideas which aren't to our liking.
I am suspicious of anyone's theology which has a god who happens to agree with every single moral position that the believer already had.
Person A: "God wouldn't care if I look at porn, as long as I don't act on it!"
Person B: What's your personal opinion on porn?
Person A: "Well, I have the same view! It's fine to look at as long as I don't act on it!"
Rather, shouldn't this be the paradigm:
Person A: I'm sorry, but if you're not Catholic, you really cannot receive the Eucharist.
Person B: What's your personal opinion on this?
Person A: Well, my personal wish is that everyone who came to Mass could receive. However, God didn't consult with me on this and so I have to conform* my views to His, not re-create a god who happens to believe everything that I believe and want the Church to be.
As Protestant Pastor Tim Keller says, "If your god never disagrees with you, you might just be worshiping an idealized version of yourself."
(*conforming our views to God's doesn't mean a blind acceptance. It doesn't mean that we simply and unthinkingly re-form our position to what the Church teaches without trying to comprehend the reasons behind this teaching. As Cardinal Henry Newman said: "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt, for a man may be annoyed that he cannot work out a mathematical problem, without doubting that it admits an answer". In other words,
a Math Student can struggle to understand how the Math Professor got a different answer to the math problem than she did, but she can accept that the Math Professor has the right answer--she simply needs to conform her calculations to achieve the same answer.)