Celia Viggo Wexler, a practicing Catholic and author of Catholic Women Confront Their Church: Stories of Hurt and Hope, calls on Tim Kaine to embrace the label "cafeteria Catholic" after Kansas City archbishop Joseph Naumann tried to pin it on him as a slur. She writes,
I would contend that Jesus was a cafeteria Jew. After all, He boiled down all the Jewish rules and regulations into two precepts: Love God and Love Your Neighbor as Yourself.
He had no problem with his apostles evading rules on ritual hand washing. When the sick needed curing, He didn’t mind doing it on the Sabbath.
He spoke to women and to Samaritans, people that a devout Jewish man would have avoided at all costs.
And he delivered forgiveness, not condemnation, to the woman caught in adultery, cleverly asking that an accuser without sin cast the first stone.
Jesus seemed to have little tolerance for merely following the rules, or for the hierarchy who would insist on it. As Latina theologian Teresa Delgado put it, "those who are voiceless, those who are abused, those who are oppressed" have the clearest insight into Christ's message. Almost every parable Christ told, she says, "was a critique of those who think they know who God is and He's suggesting, 'No, you dont have that right.' Who are we going to listen to?"
Cafeterias permit us to choose. There is nothing wrong with Catholics, informed by the teachings of the church, the gospels, and their own consciences, making moral choices.
Indeed, that’s what Vatican II upheld. In its Declaration on Religious Liberty, Vatican II affirmed that the human person "perceives and acknowledges the imperatives of divine law through the mediation of conscience."
The U.S. Catholic bishops, many of them, are once again showing their true Republican colors in this election, and are doing everything in their power to promote Donald Trump as their candidate for the White House. This is scandalous in the extreme, when one considers who Mr. Trump is, what he stands for, and the damage he will inflict on many people — including, in particular, the least among us — if elected president. It's scandalous in the extreme, when one considers the number of Catholics walking away from the Catholic church at this point in its history due to the abysmal moral and pastoral leadership provided by the U.S. bishops and the lay leaders of the American Catholic church.
As I said several days ago and will be repeating in future postings, the theological category of repentance will need to be strongly rehabilitated and streesed following this election cycle, if white evangelicals and their leaders, and the U.S. Catholic bishops, expect ever again to be taken seriously as moral agents or moral teachers.