Sunday, May 10, 2009

Can We Talk About Priests and Celibacy?

Everybody it seems, loves a good scandal! One of the most recent involves a celebrity priest in the Miami area as described in 'Father Oprah' Caught in Photo Scandal.

Faithful supporters of Father Alberto Cutié have expressed shock and disbelief after photos of the celebrity priest in a Spanish-language magazine showed him kissing and fondling a woman on Miami Beach, CBS Station WFOR-TV reports.

On Tuesday the Archdiocese of Miami relieved Father Cutié of his duties at St. Francis de Sales parish on Miami Beach and at the Catholic radio station Radio Peace and Radio Paz.

When it became a national story, even
Time couldn’t resist this racy account of the scandal.

Over a three-day period, the pictures also captured him kissing her in a bar. In one of TVnotas's "in fragranti" shots the woman wraps her legs around Cutié; in another, Cutié has a hand down her swimsuit, fondling her rear end.

Some were wondering if this could all be true. Maybe the photos were fake. But unlike others who have been caught in scandals, once the photos were published, Father Cutié made no attempt to hide anything and admitted he was in love with the woman.

The Rev. Alberto Cutié acknowledged Friday that he was in love with a woman and has no regrets about the relationship, even though the romance has jeopardized his career as a Catholic priest, the Miami Herald reports.

''Do I feel bad about it? . . . No,'' he said emphatically in a televised interview with Spanish-language network Univisión.

''I can say, with sincerity, that she's a woman I love,'' he said, noting he had known the woman, Ruhama Buni Canellis, a 35-year-old Miami Beach resident, for 10 years.
Of course this raises the age old question of whether the celibacy rule for Roman Catholic priests should finally be changed especially with the ever increasing shortage of priests as suggested in this commentary.

New York Cardinal Edward Egan stunned but pleased many Catholics when he asserted recently in a radio interview on celibacy, "It's a perfectly legitimate discussion. I think it needs to be looked at."

This is a breath of fresh air on an issue the Vatican has considered a closed subject for a thousand years.
But there is still extreme resistance by conservative Catholics even in the form of denying there even is a shortage. And in What to Do About the Priest Shortage, we have this exchange.

During a 1997 interview, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, now Pope Benedict XVI, was asked about the declining ranks of the Catholic priesthood. "Mustn't celibacy be dropped," the questioner asked, "for the simple reason that otherwise the church won't get any more priests?" Ratzinger demurred. "I don't think that the argument is really sound," he said, noting that the trend had less to do with strict rules and more to do with family size and priorities.
But then again, this is from the same person who recently said during a recent trip to Africa that the use of condoms will make the AIDS epidemic worse!

All those attempts of denial aside, here is an interesting video showing how one diocese is resorting to a practice that many in corporate America have adopted — bringing in immigrants to do the jobs that “Americans won’t do”.

But I think the arguments about celibacy for priests leading to shortages misses a more important question. And that is, what attitude towards sex is the Catholic Church promoting? Is it to be looked at as something dirty? Or something beautiful that allows our species to survive!

Maslow's hierarchy of needs includes sex as a physiological need even though one doesn’t strictly need sex to survive as with other needs such as food and water. But nonetheless, denying the power of our biological sex drive is at odds with nature.

I am reminded of an early George Carlin monologue about growing up in a Catholic school called
The Confessional.

In fact, WANNA was a sin all by itself. "Thou Shalt Not WANNA". If you woke up in the morning and said, "I'm going down to 42nd street and commit a mortal sin!" Save your car fare; you did it, man! Absolutely!

It was a sin for you to wanna feel up Ellen. It was a sin for you to plan to feel up Ellen. It was a sin for you to figure out a place to feel up Ellen. It was a sin to take Ellen to the place to feel her up. It was a sin to try to feel her up and it was a sin to feel her up. There were six sins in one feel, man!
Of course The Pope runs the Catholic Church and can impose any rules he chooses to — but people are also free to follow their own conscience and decide if those rules are right for them! As much as Father Cutié may well believe in celibacy on an intellectual level, I believe that even if it was subconscious urge, he wanted to get caught to bring this internal conflict of his out in the open. Why else would a well-known public figure do what he did on a public beach where someone was bound to see him with his woman friend sooner or later? Remember, he didn’t deny being seen and later defiantly proclaimed his love for the woman.

I think this will lead to Father Cutié leaving the priesthood. And why not? The qualities that led him to become famous as a priest will no doubt serve him well in the secular world. The question is how long will the Catholic Church stubbornly continue on this path and lose more good men like Father Cutié?

MIAMI (June 16) - A telegenic Miami priest who left the Catholic Church amid an uproar over published photos of him kissing his girlfriend on the beach made the relationship official Tuesday, marrying the woman he was involved with for about two years.

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