Sunday, 09 August 2009
A Roman Catholic priest from Miami Beach was relieved of his duties at a parish when photos surfaced of him kissing a woman on the sandy shores of Florida. Father Alberto Cutie--yes, that's his real, astonishingly-appropriate name--admitted that the woman was his girlfriend and professed to be struggling over whether to remain in the priesthood, which requires him to be celibate, or to resign in order to stay with his girlfriend.
Cutie, 40, who says he is deeply in love with girlfriend Ruhama Canellis, told Univision: "I didn't stop being a man just because I put on a cassock. There are trousers under this cassock."
A few months ago, news emerged that Cutie has left the Roman Catholic church for the Episcopal church, which permits priests to date and marry.
As an Episcopalian, I'm fighting a sense of smugness that my church is more open-minded than others that demand celibacy of its members. After all, isn't it a bit far-reaching to ask clergy to forsake the natural human desire to marry and have a family?
But after all, Roman Catholic clergy freely admit themselves to the priesthood and voluntarily assume the Church's requirement of celibacy. According to the Catechism, priests are "called to consecrate themselves with undivided heart to the Lord and...they give themselves entirely to God and to men...[celibacy] is a sign of this new life to the service of which the Church's minister is consecrated" (Catechism 1579). Maybe we Protestants are getting it wrong by arguing to free priests of a burden that they don't see as a burden at all.
What do you think? Was Father Cutie right to have forsaken his priestly duties, or should he have been willing to forfeit his illicit relationship instead?
Do you think celibacy is an impossible demand to make of clergy, or is it truly a God-ordained and virtuous calling?