Partial communion with the Catholic Church is sort of like being partially pregnant. You’re either pregnant or not; you’re either Catholic or not.
We had many precedents of those who held partial communion with the Church or tried to change the doctrines taught: the heresies are constantly at work to undermine the faith. The last huge upsurge of doctrinal denial was found in the heresy of Protestantism and as you know it created a complete breakdown of communion with the newly formed churches. They were the progenitors of the constant divisions between themselves which has accelerated in recent years. But, if it was OK to disagree with Rome the first time, then it must certainly be OK to disagree with your present day denomination as well. 35,000 denominations into this dividing cell we have an enormous growth of cells that are unrecognizable as the Mystical Body of Christ from which they emerged. One might say that modern Christians who claim no church or denomination are themselves products of this as well. They are churches unto themselves. They are church.
The modern phrase of cafeteria catholic was framed during the liberal abuses that abounded following the close of the Vatican II Council. Many foolish notions were floated about and introduced as in keeping with “the spirit of Vatican II” and thus were floundering about without an official, authoritative Catechism for many years. Therefore many “did Catholicism” their own way; cafeteria style. It is an apt description of many within the faith, even to this day (despite a comprehensive official Catechism), who do not adhere to all of the teachings of the faith. They continue to “do Catholicism” their own way, accepting this doctrine while rejecting that doctrine. So, are they in partial communion or have they broken communion with the Church?
It should be obvious. That would be like saying, “I accept Einstein’s formula E=MC2 except for the M part.” Then it’s no longer a viable formula. It would be a formula about nothing at all and useful for nothing. It is the same with the cafeteria catholic and how that would impact the rest of the faith. Although they see it as just a tiny little unimportant piece within a great big church with many doctrines, they are so wrong! If any of the defined teachings of the faith are found wrong then the entire faith is wrong: which would be to say that Christianity itself is wrong. Let’s see why.
If Christ did not leave a Church with authority then His followers were left without any mechanism to continue to preach and teach the Good News to the rest of the world: in other words, Christ’s claim that He would not leave them as orphans is a sham. If the Church is not the authority, then the Bible cannot be the authority either as it was left to the Church to have the authority to proclaim what books should be in the Bible and how they agreed with the spoken traditions and beliefs that had been taught by the successors of the apostles. And lastly, if the Church does not retain Her authority, then the Bible has fabricated the fact that God gave Her the Holy Spirit; effectively sanctifying the institution for all posterity. That then makes Christ ineffectual, not divine and worse would render Him nothing more than a mad man or a liar and a charlatan. How then could anyone still accept Christianity as a religion with any credence?
We also see how quickly the faith mutates when we start picking and choosing the teachings of Christ as taught through the Church. Note the news story previous to this post of an apostate priest, who had lost his faculties, giving the “Eucharist” to a dog at his Church. If you can’t be faithful in the small things then it is unlikely that you will be faithful in the larger things. It is the inevitable evolution of a priest who disagreed with the Church’s teaching on gays, women’s ordination, contraception and the like. It has morphed into a strange concoction of abuses and has turned into a boat without a rudder that merely moves wherever the wind of change moves it.
Witness the degeneration of the Episcopal Church which has done the same. Starting with their acceptance of the same issues, they now cannot even declare that Christ is lord in their latest pronouncement. It has totally unraveled as a viable Christian faith and the veracity of its teachings are now null and void.
“He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in that which is greater . . .” __ Luke 16:10