[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Father Alberto and Celibacy for Priests (UPDATED)

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Father Alberto and Celibacy for Priests (UPDATED)

This is a difficult post to write.

As a Catholic, my reaction to news of the pictures of Father Alberto Cutié at the beach with a woman was one of disappointment and sadness. It's sad enough when any priest breaks his vow of celibacy, but when someone the likes of Father Alberto does it, it's especially hard to take. Father Alberto is an extraordinary man, devoted to his vocation, his belief, and God in such a public and outspoken way. His outreach has undoubtedly inspired others to follow in his footsteps or to renew and/or discover their faith. I'm disappointed in the fact that he won't be able to continue his duties as a priest, but also sad because Father Alberto is a very good man who made a mistake, a pardonable one in the eyes of God, showing us that he is indeed human just like the rest of us. After all, isn't it "perfectly" human to have sexual desires, especially a good-looking 40-year-old man in his intellectual and physical peak who could have his pick of practically any woman out there? Alas, this is the very reason we're so disappointed: we thought that Father Alberto, by rising above the unimaginable temptations and challenges of a celibate priesthood, showed us what an inspirational figure he is.

There are those who will cynically use this incident as another way to lash out at the Catholic Church, and Christianity in general, for it's "hypocrisy". Those folks need to know this: Father Alberto's relationship with a woman, while a clear and shocking violation of his vow of celibacy, is a forgiveable act in the eyes of God. Christians are supposed to be forgiving. Perhaps that also something practicing Christians need to remember as well.

There are also those who are calling for the Catholic Church to revisit its dogma requiring celibacy for priests. On this issue I am ambivalent. Not because it's easy to not take a side, but because I feel there are valid arguments to be made on both sides, and it's tough for me to decide which one holds more weight. If the primary justification for allowing Catholic priests to marry is to encourage more intelligent and well-rounded men to take up the priesthood and whom can also capably handle being the head of a family AND a congregation, then I can go along with that. After all, relationships are a bedrock of Christian faith, and Christians hold marriage and the family in high esteem. But if the primary justification for removing the celibacy requirement for priests is that it will prevent another Father Alberto incident from taking place, forget it. Just as you occasionally hear about the non-Catholic married clergy getting caught in extramartial affairs (or worse), the same would happen with a minority of married Catholic priests.

Just as there were secular or even economic reasons for the Catholic Church adopting the celibacy requirement for priests, there are also logical and scriptural reasons. As this site shows, certain passages from Scripture clearly express a preference for priestly celibacy. with Jesus as the primary example. From a logical perspective, one that is obviously not lost in the Gospel of Matthew, one's commitment to family takes precedence over anything else on this Earth. Juggling a family and the needs of a congregation, while certainly possible, are daunting tasks that are reserved for people of extraordinary faith and dedication. It's clear that being a priest is not a M-F 9-5 job. It's also clear that a priest, even a married one, is held to a much higher standard than Average Joe. It's tough enough being a single, celibate priest. Being married with kids and having to juggle the responsibilities of a Catholic priest is arguably tougher. In this sense, the Catholic dogma of priestly celibacy makes sense in that it focuses attention solely on his primary mission, an extraordinary effort indeed.

We can discuss the merits and pitfalls of celibacy vs marriage all day, but one thing is certain: a good man went down today. My thoughts and prayers are with Father Alberto. May he find peace and comfort in this troubling and soul-shaking time.

(UPDATE: Please take five minutes of your time to read Jorge's thoughts on this)


Blogger Fantomas said...

Robert, la iglesia Catolica sabe de estos problemas hace mucho tiempo. y se han hecho los sordos

Ellos saben de la gran cantidad de sacerdotes homosexuales que entran al priesthood

Tambien saben de la gran cantidad de abusadores de niños, Robert de niños

Tremendos hijos de putas todos los que abusaron de los niños Robert

Porque crees que han pagado BILLONES DE DOLARES A LAS VICTIMAS


Y ahora esto lo del padre Alberto

Todo esto se pudo haber evitado, si hubienesn permitido a las mujeres to be ordained y los hombres casados

Damn Right

Shame on the Catholic Church

Shame on the pope


11:07 PM, May 05, 2009  
Blogger Robert said...

I'll respond in English...Fantomas.

This has very little to nothing to do with priests that have sexually abused kids. If you believe priests should marry...that's fine. But if you think that it will eliminate cases of infidelity, or worse, then you're fooling yourself.

7:30 AM, May 06, 2009  
Blogger Fantomas said...

I'm with father Alberto 100% . It is good for him to remove himself from the Church for the time being
Lots of soul searching is needed at this point Robert
I hope he makes the right move in the near future. He is bright and talented

9:53 AM, May 06, 2009  
Blogger La Ventanita said...

Robert, I'm ambivalent too in this issue, but not blind. Celibacy was instituted mainly b/c they were having more than one woman in a time when Bishops and Cardinals had too much power.

However, even today under the Pope and as pat of the Roman Catholic establishment Eastern Rite priests are allowed to marry. Also, if a protestant minister wishes to become a priest, he too will be a married priest.

But let's be honest, while lifting celibacy will bring a lot more men to the priesthood - it will also bring more scandals as men stray and have affairs.

Either way, until people learn to admit to themselves that priests and ministers are as human as the rest of us, the press will be cynical about this.

I've met Father Cutie many times, and he is a wonderful priest that has an incredible trajectory within the Church, and has done wonders to teach the Church how to use media to its benefit and also attracted many young ones to the faith. He is truly blessed, and as human as the rest of us.

As he retreats to reflect on his life, I will keep him in my prayers that God guides his decision. But to the SOB that made a buck out of attempting to ruin someone else's life - the papparazzi - I'll pray so I can forgive his ass.

5:55 PM, May 06, 2009  

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