Father Albert Cutie: A superstar Catholic cleric known internationally for his best-selling book, his hit radio program, and, in 2009, for getting caught sunbathing with his paramour. Scandal ensued. Cutie was depriesticized, got married, and is now an Episcopal minister. According to the Palm Beach Post, he's speaking Thursday at St. Gregory's Episcopal in Boca and next Tuesday at St. Mark the Evangelist in Fort Lauderdale. He'll be riffing on his new book, Dilemma, which deals with "the clash between priestly celibacy and [Cutie's] love of a woman."
Take 1: Psshaw! It's not like Cutie fell in love, apologized to his bishop, and made an honest, dignified exit from the Roman Catholic Church. He was sneaking around with his girlfriend while enjoying all the trappings of celebrity priesthood. He got caught; then he got sorry. I spoke with noted Catholic pundit (and sometimes critic of this blog) Eric Giunta, who put it nicely: "If he hadn't been caught, he'd be a Catholic priest to this day."
Take 2: But, hey -- we all make mistakes! Maybe if Father Cutie could do it all over again, he'd be perfectly up-front about his inability to keep his vows.
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Takeaway: For my money, there won't be a more interesting talk proffered in SoFla this week. If Father Cutie is up-front about his mistakes -- if he's sufficiently introverted to understand his own failings, why they came about, and what the rest of us might take away from them -- Cutie's talks may present a lesson in that rarest of priestly attributes: humility. But don't bet on it. As Giunta pointed out, Father Cutie didn't embrace the Episcopalian faith until it was clear that he would be allowed to continue in that fellowship as a celebrity cleric. Until his career's survival was guaranteed, he still had nothing but nice things to say about priestly celibacy and seemed interested in trying to make things right with Rome. His track record suggests Cutie will stump for humility if, and only if, doing so seems likely to sell books.