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Fr. Cutie: Fallen Priest as Wholly Innocent Victim

01/04/2011 Comments (351)

Parts in This Series: One (Celibacy in General) | Two (Cutie’s Options)

As of Tuesday (January 4th), Fr. Albert Cutié‘s book DILEMMA: A Priest’s Struggle With Faith and Love is supposed to be out. I have not yet seen a copy, but I have seen the press release that was sent around last week in anticipation of the book’s release. To lay the groundwork for the story, I’ve done two posts—the first giving the background to the Catholic Church’s discipline of celibacy in its Latin rite and the second explaining the options Fr. Cutie had when he began to be attracted and then involved with Ruhama Buni Canellis, a divorced mother who he began a romantic relationship with while still a Catholic priest.

The Spanish-language press discovered the relationship and took pictures of the two having romantic frolics on beaches and in clearly inappropriate situations, such as Buni Canellis romantically wrapping her legs around Fr. Cutie and Fr. Cutie putting his hands down her swimsuit to fondle her behind.

When the pictures were published, Cutie requested a leave of absence from the Archdiocese of Miami. In an interview that same month (May 2009) he said he respected the Latin Church’s discipline of celibacy and did not want to become the “anti-celibacy priest.”

By the end of the month, Fr. Cutie defected from the Catholic Church and joined the Episcopal Church, where he was assigned pastoral duties at a local Episcopal parish. The following month (June 2009) he attempted marriage with Buni Canellis in an Episcopalian ceremony. (Note: Because of his canonical situation, this marriage is not valid, meaning that the two are objectively living in sin.) The two have subsequently had a child.

Fr. Cutie has apparently changed his mind about not wanting to become the “anti-celibacy priest,” if the press release to it is any guide.

The press release was send with a cover e-mail by Barbara Teszler, of Levine Communications Office, Inc., a public relations firm.

Let’s look at it an note [in parentheses] some of the themes it contains (we’ll skip the hackneyed cliches it’s also stuffed full of).

Here is how her letter begins:

The man the media turned into a living

scarlet letter

[theme:Cutie as victim]

[NAME], when the paparazzi “caught” [theme:Cutie as victim] Father Cutié embracing the love of his life in a romantic moment on the beach [theme:Cutie as victim; how could anybody stand up to his emotions regarding “the love of his life”?], it sparked an explosive media scandal – the culmination of a private struggle [theme:Cutie as victim] that had been burdening him [theme:Cutie as victim] for years. He could live the lie no longer[theme:Cutie as victim]: his private agony [theme:Cutie as victim]was now national news.

Resolving that a pure hand needs no glove to cover it [theme:Cutie as forthright, honest man—wow is the glove statement audacious and bizarre], Father Cutié decided to take a leave from the Church [theme:Cutie as forthright, honest man; this is also spin since Cutie requested a leave of absence; he didn’t just decide to “take a leave”]. Many backs were consequently turned on him for good [theme:Cutie as victim; he apparently determined that these backs were turned “for good” rather quickly since he left the Church in under a month] – this, in the face of all the scandals kept quiet on the inside of the institution [theme:Cutie as victim; the Church is picking on him but not others].

His crime?

Falling in love. [theme:Cutie as victim; nobody should suffer for the “crime” of falling in love; two notes: (1) this is just too hackneyed a cliche to go by without comment, and (2) “falling in love” with someone you cannot legitimately pursue romantically is a “crime” in the sense of being immoral and gravely sinful; it is indeed a “crime” for a husband to “fall in love” with someone other than his wife or for an adult to “fall in love” with a small child or for a priest to “fall in love” with anybody except in some kind of spiritual, non-romantic, non-sexual way.]

As Father Cutié began the long, uphill battle ahead [theme:Cutie as victim]– one that continues today [theme:Cutie as victim]– it became increasingly clear that far bigger questions were now at hand.[theme:Cutie as forthright, honest man]

Ever adamant about his devotion and love for God,[theme:Cutie as forthright, honeset man] and now an Episcopal priest, Father Cutié’s actions reignite a debate that may very well never be laid to rest[theme:Cutie as forthright, honest man]: must Catholic priests be denied the right to physically express their love[theme:Cuties as victim & as forthright, honest man]?

Father Cutié’s DILEMMA: A Priest’s Struggle with Faith and Love [theme:Cutie as victim & as forthright, honest man]takes you through the life of a man torn between his devotion to the Church [theme:Cutie as forthright, honest man] and the passions and convictions of his own heart [theme:Cutie as forthright, honest man], as well as eloquently raising questions about the origins of the promise of celibacy, its logical fallacy,[Huh?] and the various reasons for abolishing it as a requirement for priesthood.[theme:Cutie as forthright, honest man]

I implore you to get in touch about featuring the very compelling and personable Father Cutié [theme:Cutie as forthright, honest man]to see if he won’t shake your notions on religion. I’ve included more info below.

All the best,

Barbara Teszler
Account Executive
Levine Communications Office, Inc.
1180 S. Beverly Drive, 3rd floor
Los Angeles, CA 90035
E. BTeszler@LCOonline.com
T: 310.300.0950 x 239
F. 310.300.0951
www.LCOonline.com
www.twitter.com/LCOonline
Passion. Focus. Results. Since 1983.
www.LBNElert.com
LCO is the winner of the Bulldog Award for Excellence in Media Relations and Publicity
2010 Arts & Entertainment Campaign of the Year

Of course, public relations firms are paid to present their clients in a good light and to write prose compelling enough to generate positive PR. That means some degree of hyperbole is inevitable. But if you look past Teszler’s writing style, it’s startling the number of times that Cutie is portrayed as a victim and as a forthright, honest man. There is no sense of personal culpability or responsibility. He’s an innocent saint who is being mercilessly victimized, the way this press release reads. His book may portray a different picture, but frankly, if I’d messed up the way Fr. Cutie did, I’d be ashamed to have my story represented with this kind of smug sanctimoniousness. Instead, I’d wan’t a far more humble tone about a gripping story of broken humanity, the desperate search for solutions, and honest questions for the benefit of others in the future. But we get none of that here. Nor do we get it in the accompanying press release that Teszler sent:

His love life became international news. Now Father Albert Cutié tells his side of the story: On falling in love, continuing priestly ministry outside the Roman Catholic Church, and becoming a father.

“As a Roman Catholic priest, I was forced to decide between a supernatural love—in a ministry serving the Lord—and natural love—in a forbidden relationship with a woman. Both were blessings given to me by the same God, the source of all love. This was my dilemma.”—Father Albert Cutie [Sorry, but no. God did not put Fr. Cutie in this dilemma. Don’t blame God. And don’t refer to an illicit relationship with a woman as a “gift” from God.]

In 1995, Alberto Cutie was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Miami. Years later, he was the internationally known host of a number of television programs, bestselling author of Real Life, Real Love [How ironic is that title, in hindsight?], and immensely popular figure known for his compassion and kind image. He was so beloved that he’d even come to be known as “Father Oprah.” He thrilled at spreading God’s word and never tired of the solace and comfort he brought to his congregation and his audience. But he was also chafing under a Church system that, he believes, too often treats priests inhumanely, denying them the chance to lead happy, fulfilling lives. Father Albert was facing a dilemma.

The celibate Roman Catholic priest had fallen in love and had gone through an ideological evolution on several controversial church policies.[As often happens when people seek to rationalize personal sin; they start rejecting the intellectual premises that require it to be sinful; homosexuals reject the obvious procreative aspect of sex in favor of homosexual acts; pedophiles reject the same in favor of sexual acts with children; husbands and wives reject the principle of fidelity so that they can cheat on their spouses; it’s quite common for people to subject their principles to their lusts rather than the other way around.]

DILEMMA: A Priest’s Struggle With Faith and Love (Celebra Hardcover; January 4, 2011; $25.95) is Father Albert Cutié’s personal hard-hitting indictment of the Roman Catholic Church [emphasis added; if the book is, indeed a “hard-hitting indictment” then he obviously has changed his mind about wanting to be the “anti-celibacy priest”], an institution he identifies as being stuck in the past, and often inhumane. Cutié relates his story of being cast out of the Church for the sin of falling in love with a woman [this is flat-out false; Fr. Cutie was not “cast out of the Church”; the Catholic Church has no procedures for casting out members; not even excommunication does that; Fr. Cutie voluntarily left the Church; his status as an Episcopalian is entirely his choice], and his no-holds-barred treatment of the Church’s rules will raise eyebrows and spark debate.[So, like, more on that whole, “I now want to be the anti-celibacy priest” thing]

When paparazzi captured Father Cutié and his then girlfriend (now his wife) in a romantic moment on the beach, it was the start of an explosive media scandal, but the culmination of a private struggle that he had been living with for years. He had made a promise of celibacy with every intention of keeping it for life– but how could he ignore true, earthly love, a love that God himself had put in front of him?[GAH! Please do not blaspheme God in this way!] And why would the Church, which had turned a blind eye to years of abusive, promiscuous and criminal behavior on the part of so many priests,[This indictment is in significant measure inaccurate; to the extent it is accurate, the Church has experienced a major shift for the better on this point; “All the other kids have been able to have illicit sex, so why can’t I?” is not a good defense; using the crimes of pedophiles to cover your own illicit sex is a cynical, manipulative, and degrading move] take such a hard line on this issue [Dude, what on earth did you expect?] and react so negatively toward the announcement by the popular priest to realize his dream of continuing priestly ministry as a married man and having a family?[What “announcement” are we talking about? “I’m ditching the Church to become an Episcopalian?” What was the negative reaction? “We regret Fr. Cutie’s decision?” Have officials of the Catholic Church said anything intemperate at all in this matter?]

In DILEMMA, Father Cutié opens up about answering the call to become a priest as a young man and falling in love with priesthood; the television and radio shows that made him famous and loved around the world; becoming “Father Oprah” and the immense joy he finds in spreading God’s word and comfort. But he also discusses feeling abandoned, neglected and overworked by absent Church leaders; the outdated, bigoted and hypocritical actions and beliefs of the Church; the open secret that many priests carry on love affairs – both gay and straight – and even have children; and the remarkable way the Church cast one of their own aside.[Dude, you left] He also eloquently illuminates the origins of the promise of celibacy, its logical fallacy,[Huh?] and the many reasons for abolishing it as a requirement for priesthood.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Father Albert Cutié has had the special privilege of entering millions of homes throughout the world with his television and radio talk shows, as well as his newspaper advice columns. He was the first priest to host a daily “talk-show” [Why does “talk show” need scare quotes?] as part of a major network on national and international secular television. His first self-help book, Real Life, Real Love was published by Penguin and became a best-seller in Spanish. He is now a married priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida.  Visit his website at:  www.fralbert.com.

#      #      #

DILEMMA A Priest’s Struggle With Faith and Love By Father Albert Cutié Celebra Hardcover; On-sale: January 4, 2011 $25.95; ISBN: 978-0-451-23201-4

Penguin Group (USA) Inc. is the U.S. member of the internationally renowned Penguin Group.  Penguin Group (USA) is one of the leading U.S. adult and children’s trade book publishers, owning a wide range of imprints and trademarks, including Berkley Books, Dutton, Frederick Warne, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, Grosset & Dunlap, New American Library, Penguin, Philomel, Riverhead Books and Viking, among others. The Penguin Group is part of Pearson plc, the international media company.

Obviously, much more could be said. But let’s pray for Fr. Cutie, for his civil law wife, his child and step-child, and for all who may be led astray by the scandal (in the theological sense: an example that encourages others to fall into sin) whose flames he and his press agency is so anxiously fanning. What do you think?

Filed under albert cutie, alberto cutie, archdiocese of miami, celibacy, episcopal church

About Jimmy Akin

Jimmy Akin
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Jimmy was born in Texas, grew up nominally Protestant, but at age 20 experienced a profound conversion to Christ. Planning on becoming a Protestant pastor or seminary professor, he started an intensive study of the Bible. But the more he immersed himself in Scripture the more he found to support the Catholic faith. Eventually, he entered the Catholic Church. His conversion story, "A Triumph and a Tragedy," is published in Surprised by Truth. Besides being an author, Jimmy is a Senior Apologist at Catholic Answers, a contributing editor to This Rock magazine, and a weekly guest on "Catholic Answers Live."