Maria Shriver, wife of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, isn’t shy about the fact that she’s a dissenting Catholic.

And the Kennedy family member isn’t apologetic about it either.

“I have a dispute with a lot in the Catholic Church,” a smiling Shriver says in this Nov. 14 interview with The Washington Post’s Sally Quinn. The video recording of the interview, which is posted on The Washington Post’s website, is entitled “On Being a ‘Cafeteria Catholic.’”

“Even though I consider myself a Catholic in good standing, I disagree with a lot of the teachings of the Church,” continues Shriver, who is the niece of Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. “But I believe in the compassion and the justice of Jesus Christ; I believe in the social justice of the Catholic Church. But I don’t believe in, you know, 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. There are a lot of things like that.”

Shriver, who was wearing a rosary around her neck during the interview, was speaking at her annual women’s conference in California.

On abortion, Shriver says, “I’m pro-choice, I believe that a woman should have that right. I often talk to my daughters at my dinner table about the difference between pro-abortion versus pro-choice. I think a lot of people don’t make that distinction in life — they think everybody’s who’s pro-choice is like, ‘Yeah, let’s have an abortion.’ And I believe that choice should be left to a woman.”

Shriver suggests she also takes issue with the Church on the issue of the ordination of women.

“And so there are things that — I think women should have a larger role in the Catholic Church, as does Joan Chittister who’s speaking here at this conference,” she says. “I grew up watching my brothers serve as altar boys, and I was never allowed. That was something I would always say like, “Well, why can’t I be an altar boy?’ And they were like, ‘You’re a girl; you can’t be a priest; you can’t be an altar boy; you can be a nun.’”

Sister Joan Chittister is a prominent dissenter from Church teaching regarding the male-only priesthood.

“I find that I don’t spend a lot of time trying to square my own daily life with the institutional ‘Church.’ I pick and choose,” Shriver sums up regarding her approach to her Catholic faith. “I remember doing a long time ago a show about cafeteria Catholics, American cafeteria Catholics. And I think I’m probably a cafeteria Catholic.”

The Daily Blog thinks she’s probably right.

— Tom McFeely