Betrayal -- that's what living a cafeteria lifestyle means, so it's hard to feel too sorry for proud, self-proclaimed "cafeteria Catholic" Maria Shriver who is experiencing the reality of betrayal from her cafeteria husband. In 2008, Shriver told the world, via the Washington Post's religion blog, that she chooses what she wants from Church teaching:
"Even though I consider myself a Catholic in good standing, I disagree with a lot of the teachings of the Church....I don’t believe that if someone’s divorced they shouldn’t get Communion; I don’t believe that people who are gay shouldn’t be accepted into the Church… I’m pro-choice, I believe women should have that right....women should have a larger role in the Catholic Church." - Maria Shriver Schwarzenegger .
In other words, "I do it my way!" God's way be damned!
Maria Shriver Schwarzenegger called herself a cafeteria Catholic at the time and, while claiming to pray every day and to love her parish priest, it's clear she wasn't praying for her conscience to conform to the teachings of Christ articulated through the Church He founded on "the rock" of Peter.
Why has Shriver stayed in the Church? She likes the social justice teachings (and maybe the stained glass windows and the bingo). Among the Church teachings she was willing to throw out are the pesky ones about the indissolubility of marriage. After all, she wanted the divorced who attempt new marriages without a declaration of nullity to receive the Eucharist -- so much for respecting sacramental marriage!
So how can Shriver, the cafeteria Catholic, complain about Arnold Schwarzenegger , the cafeteria husband? Schwarzenegger was also a cafeteria Catholic who promised his faith would never interfere with his decisions as governor of California. It's obvious he also didn't believe in those pesky vows he took on his wedding day -- or he changed his mind along the way when they interfered with his "right to choose" a little whoopy on the side.
Maria and Arnie both betrayed Christ and the Church as cafeteria Catholics by picking and choosing the doctrines they would follow and those they would reject. Arnie just took the betrayal a step farther by being a cafeteria husband who played fast and loose with the vows he made to Maria on their wedding day. But if you don't respect your obligations to Christ and His Church, why would you respect your obligations to another person?
The pain and damage Schwarzenegger has caused his family (His son Patrick changed his name to Shriver on his facebook page.) mirrors the pain sin causes to Jesus Christ. The reality is that the cafeteria lifestyle is a betrayal. Once you accept it, you have no grounds for complaining about the cafeteria choices made by others.
Just as Maria felt she could be a Catholic "in good standing" while she cheated on the faith, Arnie may have felt he could be a husband "in good standing" while he cheated on Maria. Those who live the cafeteria lifestyle need to realize some of the choices available on the food bar are poison. The only healthy response is to close the cafeteria and return to the solid food offered at the banquet table of the Church. Let's pray that Maria and Arnie make that choice, for the sake of their own souls and the example they leave for their children.
Mary Ann Kreitzer is a founder of the Catholic Media Coalition. She writes at LesFemmesTheTruth.