I grieve for the Church. It was bad enough that Father Alberto Cutie was living a secret life. He seemed more apologetic about being caught than about having his scandalous doings with his lady-friend photographed on a Florida beach. But now we are told that he has joined the Episcopal Church. My heart drops at the news.
The wayward priest spent his designated “retreat” time hanging out with his girlfriend. He did not even try to reform. We have all been deceived. While he asked forgiveness and said that he did not want to be the poster-boy for married priests, he has abandoned the true Church entirely. He has done the very thing which he promised he would not do. He has brought both Church doctrine and discipline to ridicule. He has hurt the faith of simple people. Given his popularity as a pastor and as a widely-known media priest, the danger of his defection is incalculable. Who knows how many will follow him out of the Catholic fold?
The picture of a bishop here is not that of Father Cutie’s true spiritual father, but rather of a robber who comes to steal from the flock. In this case, he did not get away with sheep but with the shepherd. The Episcopal Bishop Leo Frade (pictured here) should be deeply embarassed by his disrespect to the priest’s legitimate bishop, Catholic Archbishop John Favalora. Ecumenism is dealt a serious set-back. I would not be surprised to see lightning bolts from heaven about this travesty. The good Archbishop would have us pray for his prodigal son in the hope that he might return to the fold. The Miami Archdiocese has a beautiful short video online which brings home the wrongness of what Cutie and Frade have done:
The news of his infidelity only broke recently but he was unwilling to give the matter the proper amount of time and distance for sober reflection. I have to wonder how much of this was premeditated. There is even speculation that his girlfriend may have had some prior involvement with the photographer on the beach. But I think it is reaching to suppose he was setup to force his hand. Regardless of the machinations behind the scenes, the blunt of the blame must be borne by Father Cutie.
Although supposedly orthodox in his teachings, this latest act shows quite the opposite. He broke trust with his bishop and brother priests but now refers to Episcopalian priests as his “many brothers… [who] serve God as married men and with the blessing of having their own families.” This act sickens me. Episcopalian priests may be good Christians, but he sees no difference between the authentic priesthood of Catholicism and the empty shell of Anglicanism. He is not the first. But, almost every one of them abandoned Roman Catholicism, not for deep-seated doctrinal reasons, but because of the desire to bed a woman and still retain a public or ministerial persona as a spiritual guru.
Catholicism receives many Episcopalian priests into her ranks, but they are drawn by doctrinal permanence over fluctuating instability, moral absolutes over relativism and a humility coupled with obedience to God and his Church over a selfish and earthbound liberalism. Those who become Catholic often sacrifice much in the way of salary, standing and home. While a few married Episcopalian priests have been ordained in the Catholic Church; many have sacrificed their ministries entirely to be a part of the Catholic family. They placed a higher premium on divine truth than upon a capricious religion easily swayed by the fads and fashions of the day.
How could he give advice about faith and relationships to others on television, radio and in writing when he was so personally messed up? People came to him for life-giving water; but he was really an empty well. Many of his supporters seem more “on his side” than in harmony with the mind of the Church. He made disciples, inadvertantly I suppose, less for Christ and his Church and more for himself. Sometimes I think the Church should rotate clergy in media settings. Left too long in front of the camera or on the radio– and a personality cult frequently develops. We should not hero-worship our clergy. If a popular priest should fall, he might take many souls with him. This business with Father Cutie has re-ignited the married priest debate even though most active priests prefer the status-quo in favor of compulsory celibacy. Who knows how dire this will be for the Church in Miami?
A television station showed parishioners of St. Francis de Sales Parish marching around their church in support of their former pastor. Evidently they did not care that their pastor had broken his promises and had lived a lie. When interviewed they compared Father Cutie’s transgressions favorably against the terrible crimes of pedophiles. The real comparison is with good and faithful celibate priests.
The situation was intensely precarious. Today, it became a great deal worse. The woman is identified as Ruhama Canellis. She stood by his side at Trinity Cathedral where they both entered the Episcopalian church. The Episcopal bishop and priests in attendance dressed up for the event. They pulled all the stops. Even priestesses were in attendance. He is planning to marry his lover and to become an Episcopalian priest. I suppose it is fitting. King Henry VIII stole the English people from the Catholic Church so that he might divorce and remarry. Canellis is a divorced woman. Did Father Cutie miss the class in seminary on basic Christian morality? Are not fornication and adultery still sins? This should matter to them both. In addition to these concerns, he is now a renegade Catholic priest. If he accepts Protestant teaching, and plans to expound upon it, then he will be a heretic as well. He is digging a big hole for himself. My fear is that thousands might fall into it with him.
Well, it is a sad thing, but if the Episcopalian church wants our rejects then that is their trouble. Look how quickly they grabbed this fallen priest. We would have taken more time with one of theirs. His legitimate Catholic bishop was not even notified about his reception into the Episcopal church. That shows how little respect Father Cutie had for him and the ROMAN Catholic Church. The Episcopal diocese should be ashamed of itself. But given the current fragmented status of the Episcopal communion, are they even capable of shame? This was all quite sleazy and I suspect it was in the works for some time. I have no respect for men who do such things.
Father Cutie described his new faith affiliation as “a new family” and yet we do not subscribe to any form of religious relativism. Father Cutie disowned his family today. That should be the real headline. All churches are not the same. The Holy Father was clear. The Catholic Church is the true Church; Orthodoxy is a defective church; and all Protestant groupings are ecclesial communities, but not properly CHURCH. Many Protestant communities claim no priesthood or Eucharist; Episcopalians claim both but the Catholic Church judged their orders invalid and their Eucharist as false.
SEE APOSTOLICAE CURAE (Pope Leo XIII, 1896)
They are not a branch of Catholicism but a foreign misbegotten creature that has delusions of grandeur while feigning a pedigree it does not really possess.
What clouds the issue is the presence of former Catholic priests in the Episcopal church. They are still priests, even if in mortal sin and excommunicated. Father Cutie says that he will continue to proclaim God’s Word; but what is a Catholic priest apart from the Catholic Church? Will he preach the Word of God or the word of Cutie? Father Cutie is rejecting the Pope, the authority of his lawful bishop, the seven sacraments as clearly defined by Catholicism, our view of priesthood, our moral teachings on sexuality and marriage, the prohibition against divorce and remarriage, and the basics of Catholic ecclesiology. Will he be happy? Can he close his mind and heart to the many differences we have with Episcopalianism? He will be obliged to accept women priests, gay bishops and same-sex unions, a tolerance for abortion, artificial contraception and divorce with remarriage. He is leaving the Church of commandments for the church of anything goes. He says, “I will always love the Catholic Church.” But, he did not love her enough. The Church was his bride. Now he has traded her for two paramours: the divorcee and the mistress church of Henry VIII and Cranmer the despoiler.