By Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway
With all the hullabaloo about the very handsome Father Alberto Cutie, the popular Catholic priest who got caught in a passionate embrace with an attractive woman on a beach, I have been pondering these burning questions:
Are good-looking priests less likely to remain celibate? Is it hard for them to do so? Do we sympathize with their plight more, say, than average looking or unattractive clergy people who have taken a vow of celibacy? Are we secretly cheering on the cute ones in collars to surrender to the kind of unbridled romance we loved so much in The Thornbirds?
I mean, have you had a look at this controversial Priest?
Although his name is pronounced Father “koo-tee-ay”, he is indeed Father Cutie! He has the whole package going on. They call him Father Oprah, for dispensing advice on life and relationships and he has:
* Good looks
* A job in TV
* A direct line to God
He became famous as the host of a Telemundo talk show and infamous for breaking his vow of celibacy. But, let's be honest, could we truly expect an attractive, camera-ready, TV star priest like this to not walk the path of human passion? In Miami?
Was it really that shocking that he would be cavorting on a local beach with a sexy woman? Or did it seem natural?
According to him, he had never broken his vows prior to falling in love with the woman who was his “downfall” from the Catholic Church. But he did admit in a recent CBS Morning Show interview that celibacy has been hard.
Father Cutie literally got caught with his hands down the bathing suit of his beloved, and he owned up to it. He just came out and said, yes, I did it, but admitted, "I have struggled with celibacy."
After the photos of his romantic romp on the beach were revealed, the Catholic Church relieved him of his duties. Was he punished and booted out, or did he find a graceful way to slide behind a new pulpiit?
As of now he is switching teams – and has begun the process of becoming and Episcopal. He even did his first sermon and began ministering in a new church. This is a faith that will let him date, marry and, perhaps, frolic on the beach if he chooses.
It seems he has chosen love over chastity, and that he did not have to choose love over God. He insists the woman he was with is someone he cares deeply for. I buy that. But one wonders - why would a priest who is a public figure, a known celebrity, expose himself to getting caught?
Maybe he wanted to be caught? Maybe this was a way to become unchained from his vows of chastity and to free himself of the guilt and confusion of love that equals sin?
Leaving the Catholic Church for another faith and pulpit allows him to serve God and maintain the career he has built -- while enjoying the earthly pleasures of love and partnership. Can we really fault him for wanting that; would God really punish him for having that?
I believe he is a man of faith. But there may come a point when career opportunities will outweigh his worries about scandal and sin. Maybe this will turn out to be the best career move ever, when Hollywood comes a calling with a movie deal and he gets a reality show contract to chart the course of his courtship and wedding planning. (I am making up the wedding, but you know what I mean).
I understand the value of celibacy -- during certain times. Life is messy and celibacy may make us clearer channels for God. But for a lifetime?
Must we really force clergy people into romantic isolation in order to serve God? Is it necessary to separate God from romantic love, and sex -- for a lifetime? After all, priests deserve soul mates too.
Watch Father Cutie's interesting confession about celibacy.