Friday, May 29, 2009

Soap Opera in Miami

When the news broke in early May, I wasn't going to give much mental time to Fr. Alberto Cutié. He was a man who'd stumbled, fallen, and needed to pick himself up, stand as a man, and keep carrying his cross as he should. I prayed for him, hoped that he'd resolve the situation and stay true to his faith.

Well, he had other ideas:
The Rev. Alberto Cutié, the celebrity priest removed from his Miami Beach church after photos of him kissing and embracing a woman appeared in the pages of a Spanish-language magazine earlier this month, has left the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami to join the Episcopal church and announced that he will marry the woman he has dated for two years.

I guess since the vow of chastity was quietly tossed, any notion of obedience to his bishop and Church went with it. Were I either the Episcopal Church or this man's paramour, I'd be leery of accepting any vow or promise he makes in the future. Caveat Emptor.

From the CNN story:
"This is something I've struggled with," he[Cutié] said this month. "I don't support the breaking of the celibacy promise."

I beg to differ with him, as his actions over the last two years indicate his tacit support for breaking the celibacy vow, and his leaving the Catholic Church most publicly indicates such support. Had he taken his vow seriously, he would have ended the relationship once it crossed the line, and sought Reconciliation, counseling, and the advice and guidance of his bishop. Instead, after his duplicity has been exposed, he's running to another church.

The Episcopal church is doing itself no favors in proudly scooping up notoriously integrity-challenged men like Fr. Cutié and former governor and catholic Jim McGreevey. If these men could not uphold their commitments to Christ, Church, or spouse, why is the Episcopalian church so eager to throw them into vestments and a pulpit?

The Episcopal bishop, Leo Frade, speaks to Fr. Cutié's vow of celibacy:
"That promise is not recognized by our church. If you can find it in the Bible that priests should be celibate, that will be corrected,"

Episcopalians have become deft at dismissing things that are IN the Bible, so this challenge to "find it in the Bible" is laughably ironic. Others have tackled this topic at length, but here are a couple highlights:

1 Corinthians 7:
32 But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord;

33 but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife,

34 and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.

35 This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.

And this from the Gospel via both Luke and Matthew, which makes it even clearer, with those having ears to hear:
"No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other.."

There was a time when men were unconcerned with the raising of their children and the running of the household, and there are still men today who behave that way. But, we've come to the conclusion that a man needs to be engaged in the family, and not some distant provider, a socio-economic god, ruling from his reclining throne in the den. Being a husband and father requires a man's full attention and devotion.

A Catholic priest is not just a sacrament-dispensing ATM that works a couple hours on Saturday, and a couple hours on Sunday. He not only guides, but is intimately involved in the spiritual life of the parish: Morning Mass, visiting the sick, memorials, funerals, weddings, baptisms, counseling, confessions, vigil masses, etc, etc.. It's a full-time, mom's hours, vocation that requires a man's full attention and devotion.

A man seeking to undertake both priesthood and family life will end up giving short shrift to one or the other. He cannot be fully devoted to both. He cannot be two men.

The Catholic Church understands both the biblical admonitions and the practical implications on this, and so its discipline reflects these realities. Candidates for priesthood in the Catholic Church are taught this in the seminaries, so Fr. Cutié has made his choice not in ignorance, but in spite of what he's been taught.

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