". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


‘Cafeteria Catholic’: Cardinal Says Biden Rejects Catholic Teachings

April 1, 2024

Washington, D.C.’s Catholic archbishop is labeling President Joe Biden a “cafeteria Catholic.” In an Easter Sunday appearance on CBS News, Cardinal Wilton Gregory of the Archdiocese of Washington was asked, “In the case of the president, do you get a sense that his regular [Mass] attendance and adherence to the faith resonates with American Catholics?” While Gregory said he thought Biden’s profession of the Catholic was “sincere,” he added, “But, like a number of Catholics, he picks and chooses dimensions of the faith to highlight while ignoring or even contradicting other parts.” The cardinal continued, “There is a phrase that we have used in the past, a ‘cafeteria Catholic’ — you choose that which is attractive and dismiss that which is challenging.”

When the late Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, “The cafeteria is closed” became a sort of mantra for conservative Catholics, given the new pope’s staunch doctrinal conservatism.

Gregory noted, “Especially in terms of life issues, there are things that [Biden] chooses to ignore or he uses the current situation as a political pawn rather than saying, ‘Look, my Church believes this.’” In this case, “life issues” means “abortion,” an issue over which Biden and the Catholic bishops of the U.S. have repeatedly clashed. As The Washington Stand previously reported, Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the military archdiocese, now the leader of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), recently condemned Biden’s weaponization of the Department of Veterans Affairs to expand abortion mandates. Broglio declared that the move “violates the dignity of the human person” and added, “I deplore this decision that once more removes the right to life for the defenseless and inflicts untold physical and psychological trauma on mothers.”

“Joe Biden isn’t even a ‘cafeteria Catholic,’ as Cardinal Gregory suggests, because being a ‘cafeteria Catholic’ suggests that one believes at least some aspect of the Church’s teachings,” Michael Hichborn, founder of the investigative Catholic watchdog group Lepanto Institute, told The Washington Stand. “In fact, there isn’t a single one of the Ten Commandments he hasn’t opposed either through his actions or his policies.”

In 2021, shortly after Biden ascended to the presidency, the USCCB drafted a formal proposal to bar Biden from receiving Holy Communion at Catholic Masses, due to his abortion advocacy. Although the measure did not ultimately go through, some individual bishops did prohibit self-described Catholic Democrats in their dioceses from receiving Holy Communion. San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone publicly banned former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) from receiving Holy Communion, and Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has been banned from receiving it in his home diocese of Springfield.

Since the first century, the Catholic Church has proclaimed abortion to be unequivocally a moral evil. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the official teaching document of the Catholic Church, states, “This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law…”

Polling suggests that the abortion extremism advocated by Biden and the Democratic Party is driving Catholics away. Last month, a survey of Michigan voters found that former President Donald Trump had garnered a 25-point lead over self-described Catholic Biden among Catholic voters. Previously, research has shown that support for Democratic candidates has consistently decreased among American Catholics over the past six decades, while support for GOP candidates has dramatically increased. Significantly, American Catholics who attend Mass more regularly are more likely to vote Republican.

But Biden’s contradiction of Catholic moral teaching extends beyond abortion. Just days before Gregory’s comments, Biden declared Easter Sunday the official “Transgender Day of Visibility” and banned Christian imagery from the White House’s Easter celebration, prompting significant backlash from conservatives and Christians. Previously, the president has issued executive orders equating biological sex with gender identity, referred to laws protecting children from harmful gender transition procedures as “close to sinful,” hosted numerous White House “Pride” events glorifying transgenderism, promoted transgender ideology globally via the U.S. State Department, and entrenched LGBT ideology domestically via agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Catholic Church has long opposed LGBT ideology, including both homosexuality and transgenderism. In 2019, the USCCB published a collection of passages from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope St. John Paul II, and the Vatican’s doctrine office, which contradict the transgender ideology. Last year, the nation’s Catholic bishops went even further, promulgating explicit directives forbidding Catholic health care providers from carrying out gender transition procedures, since such procedures “are injurious to the true flourishing of the human person” and “do not respect the fundamental order of the human person as an intrinsic unity of body and soul, with a body that is sexually differentiated.”

Another Catholic cardinal, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Cardinal Gerhard Müller, also recently rebuked Biden’s profession of Catholic faith. The German cardinal said that Biden is only “nominally a Catholic, in reality he is a nihilist.” Müller particularly emphasized Biden’s pro-abortion legacy, saying, “The word ‘abortion’ is too much a soft word. The reality is killing, murder of a living person. There’s no right to kill another person. It’s absolutely against the Fifth Commandment.” Although Biden is, due to his abortion activism, automatically excommunicated, Müller called on U.S. bishops to formally and publicly declare Biden excommunicated: “In other times people like this would be excommunicated. In former times the Popes and the bishops had no fear to excommunicate…”

S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.