“Profession by its nature is a permanent commitment.
Members who find themselves in particular difficulties should discuss their problems with the council in fraternal dialogue.” (Article 23c, Secular Franciscan Order Rule)
If you read CNN.com, or other Catholic and religion news websites, you have no doubt heard the story of Father Alberto Cutie’, a popular Miami Catholic priest, famous for his television appearances. He was removed from his parish and ministries after pictures were published of him being intimate on a beach with a woman. News hit the wires that he and his girlfriend have joined the Episcopal Church. Michael Paulson of the Boston Globe has an informative piece on his blog, Articles of Faith (http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles_of_faith/).
Mr. Paulson reports on how uncomfortable many commenters have felt about these events, and I want to add my voice to that number. I do not want to be, and I hope I am not sounding judgmental, because there may be things, we are not aware of going on internally or externally with Father Cutie’, but this incident does bring questions about his commitment to the Church, or his understanding of the quality of that commitment.
At ordination, a priest makes a commitment to the Church that is just as deep and intense as the commitment I made to my wife on my wedding day, as the commitment I made to my Secular Franciscan fraternity, when I made my profession. In all these instances, one should go in knowing full well what the relationship requires, and is welling to fulfilling those requirements, because of the love one has for one’s spouse, the community, the Church. Even when things do not go well, there should be dialogue and attempts to repair the breach, to reconcile. If a breakdown in the relationship is inevitable, if there was a deep connection in the beginning, then there is time of grieving over the loss.
I see no signs of grieving in Alberto Cuties’ face in that picture of him with the Episcopal bishop and clergy. He makes it appears that changing church communities is as easy as changing political parties. Maybe this is a sign of the times, where so many of our young people are so commitment phobic. It is up to the Church and we who are happily married to show the joys and strengths of being in a committed relationship.