Rev. Cutié joins Episcopal Church

Father Alberto Cuti, the media-savvy priest who just recently defended priestly celibacy after being photographed in close quarters with a woman friend, joined the Episcopal Church today so that he can eventually become a married priest, church officials announced.The fact that it was announced drew a very negative response from Archbishop John Favalora of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami, according to the Miami Herald:

''This is truly a setback for ecumenical relations and cooperation between us. The Archdiocese have never made a public display when for doctrinal reasons Episcopal priests have joined the Catholic Church and sought ordination,'' said Archbishop John Favalora. He said he had not heard from [Episcopal Bishop Leo] Frade about the transition and had not spoken to Cuti since May 5, adding that Cuti never told the archbishop he wanted to get married.

''Father Cuti is removing himself from full communion with the Catholic Church and thereby forfeiting his rights as a cleric,'' Favalora said, later adding that Cuti is still ``bound by the promise to live the celibate life which he freely embraced at ordination. Only the Holy Father can release him from the obligation''

Not so, Bishop Frade said Thursday afternoon. ''That promise is not recognized by our church. If you can find it in the Bible that priests should be celibate, that will be corrected,'' Frade said. ``The only thing we can say is that we pray for ecumenical relations. . .I am sorry they are sorry, and we love them.''

The woman photographed with Cuti, his fiance Ruhama Buni Canellis, also is becoming an Episcopalian.Did the Episcopal bishop go too far with the announcement, or is the Roman Catholic archbishop overly sensitive?Here is the press release the Episcopal diocese put out today:FATHER ALBERTO CUTI JOINS THE EPISCOPAL CHURCHCuti to preach at May 31 mass at Church of the ResurrectionPress Conference Today - Thursday, May 28 at 2:30 PMThe Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida525 NE 15 Street, Downtown Miami(located across from the Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay on North Bayshore Drive)Miami, May 28, 2009 -- Bishop Leo Frade, Episcopal Bishop of Southeast Florida and Senior Bishop of the House of Episcopal Bishops, announced today that Father Alberto Cuti, a priest in the Roman Catholic Church, has become a member of the Episcopal Church and will pursue the priesthood.Father Alberto was received into the church earlier today at Trinity Cathedral, the cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida. Formerly Priest-in-Charge of St. Francis de Sales Church in Miami Beach and the Director of Catholic Radio, Father Alberto, after a two year discernment process, decided to begin his ministry and the path to priesthood within the Episcopal Church.The Episcopal Church is a reconciling community, welcoming all who seek to know and be assured of God's accepting and transforming love. Walking midway between Roman Catholicism and Protestant traditions, the Episcopal Church is a faith community that emphasizes sacramental worship and promotes thoughtful debate about what God is calling us to do and be as followers of Christ."We welcome Father Alberto into the ministry of the Episcopal Church," said Bishop Frade. "Our ministry has centered on spiritual growth, love, forgiveness, and a sense of community. Guided by a spirit of fellowship and understanding, the Episcopal Church remains a beacon of hope and faith for all.""I thank God for the many people in our community who have shown me their love and support," stated Father Alberto. "Your prayers have truly sustained me at this time of transition in my life. With God's help, I hope to continue priestly ministry and service in my new spiritual home."In welcoming Father Alberto, Bishop Frade notes that Father Alberto's bilingual skills, evangelical voice, and cultural sensitivities are a natural fit to the Diocesan and community needs. "We believe Father Alberto has much to offer those in our church," added the Bishop.Father Alberto will assist Archdeacons Tom Bruttell, Bryan Hobbs and Fritz Bazin in their continuing work in the revitalization of the Diocese. Specifically, he will work with the Archdeacons on a special initiative by the Bishop providing emergency responses to Episcopal Churches in urgent need. This Diocesan initiative calls on Episcopalians to rally around a specific church and help fellow congregants work to restore it.The first focus will be Church of the Resurrection at 11173 Griffing Blvd. in Biscayne Park, Florida. To launch the initiative, Father Alberto will deliver the sermon this Sunday, May 31 at Church of Resurrection beginning at 10:00 a.m.As the slogan of the Episcopal Church aptly states, "All Are Welcome!" Keep the Faith!###

Paul Moses, a contributing writer at Commonweal, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015). Follow him on Twitter @PaulBMoses. 

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