seriously, his name is Father Cutie?
An internationally-renowned Catholic priest dubbed Father Oprah has been fired after being snapped frolicking on the beach with a bikini-clad beauty.
Disgraced Cuban-American Reverend Alberto Cutie was snapped by the paparazzi lying bare-chested on Miami Beach, Florida, in a steamy clinch with a scantily-clad woman.
The supposedly celibate priest was outed when the racy photos were slapped on the cover of this week's TV Notas magazine and across eight inside pages.
Dios mio! Reverend Cutie snapped in flagrante on the cover of TV Notas
The main image shows Cutie, 40, lying on his back in blue shorts with the mystery brunette's legs wrapped around him.
Another shows the handsome priest with his hand inside the woman's bathing suit grabbing her bottom. More damning snaps - taken over a three-day period - show the couple kissing at a terrace bar.
The cover says in Spanish: 'Good God. Padre Alberto. First photos of a priest 'in flagrante' with his lover'.
Disrgaced: Cutie has been axed from his Florida job after the scandal broke
Cutie, who earned his nickname Father Oprah in his role as a radio show agony uncle, has now been removed from his posts in Florida although he currently remains a priest.
He has been axed from St. Francis De Sales Church in Miami Beach, Florida, and both the Radio Paz and Radio Peace networks.
Cutie, who has millions of Latino followers, has since apologised for his steamy antics in an online statement.
He said he 'wants to ask for forgiveness if my actions have caused pain and sadness'.
Cutie added: 'I assure you that my service and dedication to God remain intact.'
Archbishop John C. Favalora has said he is 'deeply saddened' by the sex scandal.
In a message posted on the Miami archdiocese Website, the archbishop apologised to parishioners and radio listeners.
'Father Cutie made a promise of celibacy and all priests are expected to fulfill that promise with the help of God.
'Father Cutie's actions cannot be condoned despite the good works he has done as a priest.'
Cutie was ordained in May 1995 and was the first Catholic priest to host a daily talk show on a major secular television network.
He has also written newspaper advice columns and a self-help book entitled Real Life, Real Love.
Cutie was president and general director of Pax Catholic Communications, home of Radio Paz and Radio Peace in Miami.
Popular: The priest, seen here taking part in a service, had a huge following at home and abroad
Priest nicknamed 'Father Oprah' is fired after being pictured with his hand down a woman's bikini | Mail Online
seriously, his name is Father Cutie?
I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld
That's a pretty lame "apology". That is a totally gay hairstyle BTW. I think the good Father has issues...He said he 'wants to ask for forgiveness if my actions have caused pain and sadness'.
Why do people say "Grow some balls"? Balls are weak and sensitive! If you really wanna get tough, grow a vagina! Those things take a pounding! -Betty White
Hey, at least he's not a child molestor.
Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some abuse the privilege.
I think he was ready for a career change. Could he have been more public???
I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West
I thought the priesthood was a gay profession.
'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin
"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross." --Sinclair Lewis
Oprah Cutie...what an oxymoron, just like Priest caught with woman is one!
I Bleed Purple-Baltimore and Proud!
An adult woman? Wow, this is actually shocking.
"Remember to always be yourself. Unless you suck." - Joss Whedon
"The only thing more expensive than education is ignorance." -Benjamin Franklin
He's got Affleck teeth & hair!
They're both proud drunks, they're both proud sluts and they're both proud wearers of thirsty weaves. They both probably think that the other one is swallowing up the entire world's supply of vodka, peen and yellow weaves. Michael K (re Brandi & Chelsea)
┌П┐(•_•)┌П┐twitchy molests my signature!
^^And that is scandalous in and of itself. Who ever heard of a priest having an affair with a grown woman?
'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin
"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross." --Sinclair Lewis
so a priest was on the beach being amorous with another consenting adult.. he isn't married, so he's not cheating... so ... who cares?
the celibate priest idea is insane anyway
I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.
It's actually a relatively new idea in the 'church'. It came about due to several popes. lo those many years ago. dying 'in the saddle' as it were. Oh, and all those illegitimate babies--they really threw a monkey wrench into things. Yes, folks, priests used to be able to fuck with impunity. This gives slightly different reasons for celebacy but in the end it's still all about control:
The quick answer to this question is "yes." However, there were none who married after they became pope.
There's not much detailed information about the early popes. For many years of the Church's history, celibacy was considered optional.
Based on the customs of the times, it is assumed by many that like Peter, most of the Apostles were married and had families. Author Richard McBrien writes in Lives of the Popes that "from Paul's reference to the fact that Peter and the other apostles took their wives along on their apostolic journeys, (1 Corin 9:5) the apostles did not 'put away' their wives."
In the Vatican document, Priestly celibacy in patristics and in the history of the Church, Roman Cholij writes, "It is clear from the New Testament (Mk 1:29-31; Mt 8:14-15; Lk 4:38-39; 1 Tim 3:2, 12; Tit 1:6) that at least the Apostle Peter had been married, and that bishops, presbyters and deacons of the Primitive Church were often family men."
"It is also clear from epigraphy, the testimony of the Fathers, synodal legislation, papal decretals and other sources that in the following centuries, a married clergy, in greater or lesser numbers was a normal feature of the life of the Church. Even married popes are known to us."
Mandatory celibacy was enforced because there was so much political and economic power attached to the papacy especially during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The Church has adopted celibacy as a matter of discipline, not as a matter of doctrine. Married Popes Throughout History
And another one, entitled '39 Popes were married'. I particularly love the bit about women being priests and why that practice was done away with.
My name is Father John Shuster.
I am a married Roman Catholic priest. Please call me "John".
I want to tell you about a crisis in our Roman Catholic church. There is an alarming shortage of celibate priests.1 The shortage is so acute that many parishes are being forced to close.2 At the same time, there are over twenty thousand married priests here in the United States. To put that in better perspective, one out of every three priests has married. That’s a large number of priests available to staff parishes - over four hundred priests, on average, per state. Married priests are still priests, but we are no longer clerics.
Let’s examine the difference between a priest and a cleric. A priest is engaged in a vocation of service, a spiritual calling from God. A cleric occupies an organizational position in the institutional church.
When a priest marries, he is dismissed from the clerical state. But he retains the fullness of the priesthood. He should be referred to as an "ex-cleric." Many mistakenly use the term "ex-priest". He is ordained to be a priest, not a cleric. Ordination is permanent. This fact is validated by church law, Canon 290.
Twenty-one church laws entitle Catholics to utilize married priests. In marriage, by virtue of Canon 290, our education, our ordination and 12 centuries of Roman Catholic tradition, priests retain the role of serving people as Jesus did.
We married priests have NOT abandoned our faith. We continue to help Catholics in need and look forward to our full reinstatement when the man-made law of celibacy is rescinded.
At the threshold of the millennium, thirty percent of all priests are now married. It is felt that God is calling us back to our original Roman Catholic tradition. And, since society has finally recognized their equality, it is time the church granted women equality for pastoral service. In fact, many married priests and their wives minister as a couple.
Married Priests in the Early Church
History fully supports a married priesthood. For the first 1200 years of the Church’s existence, priests, bishops and 39 popes were married.3 Celibacy existed in the first century among hermits and monks, but it was considered an optional, alternative lifestyle. Medieval politics brought about the discipline of mandatory celibacy for priests.
Let’s remember the words of Jesus: "You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church." St. Peter, the pope who was closest to Jesus, was married. There are three references in the Gospel about St. Peter’s wife, his mother-in-law and his family. Based on Jewish law and custom, we can safely assume that all of the Apostles, except for young John, were married with families.4
Married priests and their spouses were the first pastors, the first bishops, the first missionaries. They carried the message of Jesus across cultures and protected it through many hardships. They guided the fragile young Church through its early growth and helped it survive numerous persecutions.
Pope John Paul II recognized this in 1993 when he said publicly that celibacy is not essential to the priesthood.5 This pronouncement offers great promise toward resolving the problem of the shortage of celibate priests.
The early Church was a network of small family-based communities throughout the Mediterranean region. Life was marked by a sense of joyful expectation. Jesus said that he would return and the first Christians believed that it would be soon. Led by married priests, they met at each other’s homes to celebrate the Mass. Strangers were invited to share the bread and wine. No one was excluded from receiving Communion. The strangers soon became friends, joined the young Church, and brought others to hear the good news of Jesus.
Sacred Scripture documents that priests and bishops of the early Church were married. In the New Testament, in his first letter to Timothy, chapter 3, verses 1 through 7, St. Paul discusses the qualities necessary for a bishop. He describes a "kind and peaceable" father, a man with a family. As part of his description, St. Paul even asks the question, "...how can any man who does not understand how to manage his own family have responsibility for the church of God?" St. Paul established many small communities and left them in the hands of married priests and bishops.
Church leadership was based in service and was accountable to the people. Each member of the church had a voice in the community. As we read in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 15, verse 22, group decisions were made in agreement with the whole assembly. The early Church is portrayed as democratic, where leadership listened to the community and responded to its needs.
Roman Influence in the Church
How did we evolve to the large institution that we have today? What happened to the married priesthood? It began in AD 313, when the Roman emperor Constantine legalized Christianity within the Roman Empire. With his legislation, the early Church evolved from a persecuted group of small communities to become the official faith of a world power under Emperor Theodosius in AD 380.
Constantine’s intentions in adopting Christianity were not entirely spiritual.6 His position was being challenged by political groups; he needed to display his power. Forcing other politicians to become Christians was a test of their loyalty.
Constantine used the new religion as an effective tool to weed out his enemies. It strengthened his political power. Constantine also was faced with unifying the many peoples his armies had vanquished. Christianity was the key to establishing a new Roman identity in the conquered peoples. On the surface he made them Christians to save their souls, but this new religion was his final act of conquest over them.
With Christianity now the official religion of the Roman Empire, many things changed very quickly in the Church. Priests from the small communities were given special social rank among their new Roman friends. They no longer had to hide from Roman soldiers and fear for their lives. Instead, they received pay for their services as priests and enjoyed special privileges in Roman society. Bishops were given civil authority and assigned jurisdiction over the people in their area.7 Romans, who were members of the local ruling elite, quickly converted to Christianity as ordered by the Emperor. These were men trained in public life and skilled in city politics.8 They became priests and rapidly moved into positions of leadership in the Church.
These Roman politicians, with their newly acquired priesthood, brought the impersonal and legalistic attitudes of government to the Church. The celebration of the Eucharist moved from small home gatherings to what we now call "mass" involving huge numbers of people in large buildings. The celebration of the Eucharist became a highly structured ritual that imitated the ceremonies of Rome’s imperial court. This Roman influence is the source of our vestments, genuflection, kneeling, and the strict formality of Mass.
An institutional Church structure emerged mirroring that of the Roman government. Large buildings, church tribunal courts, rulers and subjects began to replace the family-based small communities that were served by a local married priesthood. The new Roman priests worked to shift authority away from the married priests in the small communities and consolidate political power around themselves. With the assistance of the Roman Empire, Church leadership became a hierarchy that moved away from its family origins and into the Roman mindset of a ruling class that was above the people in the street.9
Other changes occurred that shifted emphasis away from the people and towards the preferences of the Roman politicians. The Church adopted the Roman practice of men alone holding institutional authority. There is solid historical evidence that women served as priests and pastors prior to this time.10
Women Priests in the Early Church
In 494 women’s participation in the leadership of small communities came to an end when Pope Gelasius decreed that women could no longer be ordained to the priesthood.11 This legislation is perhaps the strongest proof we have of women serving as spiritual leaders in the early Church. Women’s roles in the church diminished as popes and bishops marched in lockstep with the Roman authorities.
Mandatory Celibacy: Attack on Women and Intimacy
With time, celibacy took on the status of a special spirituality. Certain factions promoted it by denigrating the holiness of marriage and family life. The Roman practice of abstaining from marital relations to conserve energy before a battle or a sporting event found its way into liturgical practice. Priests were ordered to abstain from intimacy with their wives the night before they celebrated Mass. The resultant message was that sexuality and marriage were no longer holy.
Celibacy became yet another political opportunity in the hands of ambitious priests and bishops. They used the celibate lifestyle as a political tool to lessen the influence of the married priests. A negative attitude towards women and sexuality began to emerge from the hierarchy that stood in stark contrast to the healthy family perspective that was central to the early Church.12 This established celibacy as the highest state of holiness and the eventual suppression of the married priesthood.
For example, in 366, Pope Damasus began the assault on the married priesthood by declaring that priests could continue to marry, but that they were not allowed to express their love sexually with their wives.13 The priests and people alike rejected this law. In the year 385, Pope Siricius abandoned his own wife and children in order to gain his papal position. He immediately decreed that all priests could no longer be married, but he was unable to enforce compliance to his outrageous new law.14
Over the next 1,000 years, an unnatural sexual ethic emerged in the Church’s developing theology. This new legalistic preoccupation with sexuality was antagonistic to normal human relationships and out of step with the natural order of life as established by God. It continued to be very derogatory towards women.
In 401, St. Augustine wrote that "Nothing is so powerful in drawing the spirit of a man downwards as the caresses of a woman."15 The evolving attitude against sexuality and women was designed to control the intimate aspects of people’s lives, and this dynamic continues to the present day. Because they were family men, married priests could see the political agenda behind the hierarchy’s obsession with sexuality. Married priests stood in solidarity with the people and did their best to stave off the Roman hierarchy’s continued efforts to gain power and control over them and their families.
Holy Communion Ended for Divorced/Remarried Catholics
The ordinary people suffered the most as this trend continued. By the twelfth century, a negative and legalistic mindset pervaded the Church’s hierarchy. Celibate bishops and priests put great emphasis on sin and guilt in an effort to establish uniformity and control. It was during this period of Church history that marriage after divorce was declared to be a sin. Those who were divorced and remarried were no longer permitted to receive the Blessed Sacrament. Up to this time, marriages were adjudicated, consentually dissolved, and individuals were free to marry again, and free to receive Holy Communion.16
Another political dynamic was at play here. The medieval church hierarchy was in a power struggle with the many monarchies and royal families across Europe. With the ability to control royal marriages, Rome realized that it could influence political alliances and manipulate affairs of state.17 As a result of this new effort to control royal alliances, being barred from Communion and the sacraments immediately punished ordinary people who divorced and re-married. They were denied full participation in the life of the Church because they did not comply to the will of church authorities. Legal status replaced spirituality as the benchmark for holiness and good standing in the institutional Church, and that is still a powerful influence today.
Infallibility -- a Man-made Concept
In this growing atmosphere of power and legalism, certain medieval popes abused their authority.18 In the year 1075, Pope Gregory VII declared that nobody could judge a pope except God. Introducing the concept of infallibility, he was the first pope to decree that Rome can never be in error. He had statues made in his likeness and placed them in churches throughout Europe. He insisted that everyone must obey the pope, and that all popes are saints by virtue of their association with St. Peter.19
The hierarchy viewed married priests as an obstacle to their quest for total control of the church and focused a two pronged attack against them. They used mandatory celibacy to attack and dissolve the influential priestly families throughout Europe and the Mediterranean world. At the same time they claimed ownership of the churches and the lands owned by married priests. As landowners the medieval hierarchy knew that they would gain the political power they sought in every country in Europe. An additional benefit of land ownership was money. They now had the ability to collect taxes from the faithful and charge money for indulgences and other sacramental ministry.20 This practice contributed to the Protestant reformation and the splintering of the Roman Catholic church community in the sixteenth century.
In the eleventh century, the attacks against the married priesthood grew in intensity. In 1074, Pope Gregory VII legislated that anyone to be ordained must first pledge celibacy. Continuing his attack against women, he publicly stated that "...the Church cannot escape from the clutches of the laity unless priests first escape the clutches of their wives".21 Within twenty years, things took a turn for the worse.
In the year 1095, there was an escalation of brutal force against married priests and their families. Pope Urban II ordered that married priests who ignored the celibacy laws be imprisoned for the good of their souls. He had the wives and children of those married priests sold into slavery, and the money went to church coffers.22
The effort to consolidate church power in the medieval hierarchy and to seize the land assets the married priest families saw its victory in 1139. The legislation that effectively ended optional celibacy for priests came from the Second Lateran Council under Pope Innocent II.23 The true motivation for these laws was the desire to acquire land throughout Europe and strengthen the papal power base. The laws demanding mandatory celibacy for priests used the language of purity and holiness, but their true intent was to solidify control over the lower clergy and eliminate any challenge to the political objectives of the medieval hierarchy.
"Priests will commit sins far worse than fornication."
One brave man, the Italian bishop Ulric of Imola, argued that the hierarchy had no right to forbid marriage to priests and urged bishops and priests not to abandon their families. Bishop Ulrich said that, "When celibacy is imposed, priests will commit sins far worse than fornication."24 The recent number of highly publicized convictions of priests involved in sexual misconduct have given credence to good Bishop Ulric. Scientific evidence is emerging that shows mandatory celibacy is connected to sexual abuse by priests. For a copy of this research, call 1-800-PRIEST-9.
The respected tradition of the married priesthood was virtually destroyed by the new celibacy laws. The healthy family origins of our faith withered with the suppression of the married priesthood and the devaluation of women in the Church.
110,000 Married Priests Worldwide
Many of the problems we face in the Church today can be traced back to this period of our Church history. But, as we approach the end of the 20th century, God seems to be calling us back to the wholesomeness of our origins as a Church. In the past 25 years, over 100,000 Roman Catholic priests, worldwide, have married and many have discreetly continued to practice their priesthood. One out of every three Roman Catholic priests in the United States today is a married priest, and the number of priests getting married continues to grow.
Marriage has given these priests a new perspective. They practice their priesthood with a deeper compassion for people and the challenges they face. Married priest couples visit the elderly in nursing homes when no celibate priest is available. Married priests care for couples who have been turned away for whatever reason from their local parish. Married priests understand the special needs of Catholics who have been divorced and want to enter into good second marriages. The public has indicated that they like their gentle style and their practical approach to life’s problems.
Women, particularly, are often deeply moved by the honesty and respect married priests show their wives, and by the sensitivity and support they show for women’s issues.
70% of American Catholics Want Married Priests
In order to transition from celibacy to marriage, priests are given no other option but to sign papers from the Vatican that infer that they never really had a vocation to the priesthood, that they are psychologically unstable, or morally weak. Just the opposite is true. Married priests have acted in unison with the Spirit of God and responded to their expanded calling with conviction and love. Many American Catholics have formally recognized their courage, especially those who have reached them through the Rent A Priest program. In national polls, 70 percent of Catholics want their priests who have married to resume their work as married priests in the Roman Catholic Church.25 They have been impressed with the integrity of married priests and the compassionate understanding they show to people who are caught in difficult situations.
"Celibacy is not essential to the Priesthood." Pope John Paul II
Besides the statement of Pope John Paul II that celibacy is not essential to the priesthood, there has been another promising development from the Vatican concerning married Catholic priests. Most Catholics are unaware that Rome is ordaining married Protestant ministers into the priesthood and assigning them to parishes here in the United States. In some instances, these Protestant ministers, now Catholic priests, replaced priests forced to leave their parishes because they got married. Rome is allowing them to remain married and providing support for their families. Studies show that the cost of supporting a married priest family is sometimes less than a celibate with his housekeeper and other assistants.
The Vatican Ordains Married Protestant Ministers
The majority of these new married Catholic priests are Episcopalians who have left their tradition because of the decision of the Church of England in favor of woman’s ordination. In ordaining to the priesthood over 100 married Protestant ministers, the Vatican has, in effect, re-established the married priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church. They have acted upon the Pope's statement that celibacy is not necessary for priesthood. By ordaining married Protestant ministers to the priesthood, the Vatican has changed the rules. In doing so, it has set a precedent that Catholics can now use married priests for Mass and the sacraments, and there are church laws that allow this. By its own example, Rome has clearly announced to the world a new public acceptance of married Catholic priests in the Church.
Mandatory celibacy is truly a man-made rule, a discipline, just like the old rule forbidding altar girls. These disciplinary practices are not necessary to our faith as Roman Catholics. Such rules can and have been changed. Today we are faced with parish closures because of the celibacy rule. With the stroke of a pen, the Vatican could lift the mandatory celibacy discipline for all of the priests. In doing so, they could mobilize over 110,000 married Catholic priest couples worldwide and re-open every parish they have been forced to close.
Pope John Paul II is working on another initiative that involves married priests. There are close to 20 different rites in the universal Church. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Byzantine Catholic Church, the Chaldean rite, the Coptic rite. Not all of these rites are in communion with Rome, and Pope John Paul II is trying to unify all rites into one Church family. Most of the Eastern rites have kept the tradition of a married priesthood over the centuries, and they will want to continue with a married priesthood in any new alliance.
Pope John Paul’s declaration that celibacy is not necessary for the priesthood has the double benefit of solving the clergy shortage in our Roman tradition and laying the groundwork for a comprehensive and agreeable Church unity world-wide. The future of the Church holds many promising developments, and married Catholic priests will play a key role in their implementation.
Canon Laws: The Public Must Do The Asking
Each church law is referred to as a canon. This body of church laws was formed soon after the imposition of mandatory celibacy. It seems that the holy monk Gratian, who formulated Canon Law, was aware of the unjust persecution of married priests and their families. I believe that he wrote laws into the code that would protect them and allow for the restoration of the married priesthood one day. There are twenty one church laws that give you permission to ask a married priest couple for help. I would like to touch on two of these church laws and explain how you can use them to help you feel comfortable in calling upon married priests.
Canon 290 is very special.26 It talks about the permanence of ordination to the priesthood. I quote: "After it has been validly received sacred ordination never becomes invalid". This canon confirms that married Catholic priests are still valid priests in good standing. The sacraments that married priests provide for you are valid sacraments. Many people think that if a priest marries, that he is excommunicated and is no longer a priest. As Canon 290 tells us, that is not true. It is in the spirit of Canon 290 that we refer to ourselves as "married Roman Catholic priests".
You might be told that sacraments from married priests are valid, but not licit. That is technically correct, and I would like to provide an example that explains the distinction between the terms "valid" and "licit". I’ll use a medical analogy to clarify this issue. Let’s imagine that a doctor from New Mexico is flying to Chicago for a conference. He lands at O’Hare International airport, rents a car, and on the way to the hotel he witnesses a traffic accident. A man is thrown from his car and is bleeding profusely from a laceration on his arm. The doctor rushes to the victim’s aid, stops the bleeding and stabilizes his new patient until the ambulance arrives. The doctor’s help in this emergency situation is "valid" because he is a practicing physician, who has been properly trained, and holds a degree from an accredited school of medicine. At the same time, the doctor’s help to the accident victim is not "licit" because he does not hold a license to practice medicine in the State of Illinois. This is the difference between valid and licit action. You can be sure that the accident victim was glad that a "valid" doctor was there to help him when he needed it the most.
Catholics who can’t find an available priest or one willing to help them are now calling upon married Catholic priests with this same understanding of their validity under Church law. Married priests are people who received a divine calling to priesthood from God. They successfully completed years of seminary training and were validly ordained by Roman Catholic bishops. They have graduate degrees in theology and other related fields.
Because of Canon 290, you can be assured that the sacraments married priests provide are as valid as those provided by a celibate priest at any Roman Catholic parish. People who have been helped by married Catholic priests believe that their priesthood is most certainly valid in the eyes of God.
The Golden Canon
Canon 1752 has been referred to as the "golden rule" of Church law. It states,: "...the salvation of souls...is always the supreme law of the Church." It would seem that this canon makes it quite clear that all of the Church’s laws and efforts exist to serve the spiritual needs of the People of God. Any laws which work against this primary objective are, in effect, counter-productive and consequently of questionable validity. If the man-made rule of mandatory celibacy for priests is keeping you from receiving the sacraments, then the celibacy rule is working against the primary mission of the Church. This understanding of the Church’s golden rule places the married priesthood in an entirely new light. It also allows you to share in our common authority and responsibility for the Church’s future.
From the viewpoint of Church law, we are in a state of emergency because the shortage of celibate priests is closing parishes and threatening the availability of Mass and the sacraments which are the essential activities of the Church.27 A reversal of this shortage of celibate priests is quite unlikely for the future. In fact, all studies which have been done, including those sponsored by our own United States National Conference of Catholic Bishops, indicate that the crisis will only grow worse in the years ahead. There will be fewer and older celibate priests to serve increasingly larger numbers of Catholics.
The merging or closing of parishes is not an acceptable answer to this crisis. The Rent-A-Priest program is a creative initiative available to Catholics who are caught in this growing crisis. Many parish communities feel that re-instating the 20,000 plus married Catholic priests here in the United States is a good and effective solution because it has solid historical and theological precedent and is clearly provided for by Church law.
Bishops Quietly Applaud
Our American bishops deal with the shortage of celibate priests every day. One out of four bishops have said, off the record, that they are ready to welcome married priests back with open arms. America’s bishops are good leaders who want the best for their people. They are aware that there are 400 married priests, on average, in every state. Working together, married priests and the remaining celibate priests can stop the parish closures. Side by side, they could dramatically improve the availability of Mass and the sacraments. Many of America’s bishops want to stop wasting the education and experience that married priests have to offer the Church. Every bishop has received information about the Rent-A-Priest program. Several bishops have encouraged us to continue promoting the married priesthood because it is a Church tradition that practice becomes custom and custom becomes law. This is already being done with the acceptance of married Protestant ministers into the priesthood, and Pope John Paul’s declaration that celibacy is not necessary to the priesthood. The next step is for people to begin to ask married priest couples for pastoral care.
You may not be aware of the many changes in the church that have taken place through the people - from the ground up, instead of the top down. Altar girls are a recent example. Many parishes trained girls as well as boys to be servers at Mass. The Vatican issued a ruling against the use of altar girls in 1987. Because of non-acceptance of this regulation and the continued use of altar girls around the world, the Vatican relented and relaxed the ruling. Practice becomes custom and custom becomes law. As more and more Catholics call upon married priests to provide them with the sacraments, this practice will bring the full reinstatement of married Catholic priests, an end to the parish closures, and better sacramental care for all Catholics.
We’ve covered a lot of ground on this tape, so let’s summarize. Our message is simple and straightforward. As a Roman Catholic, you have the right to call upon married Catholic priests for Mass and the sacraments. The Rent-A-Priest program is a pastoral ministry of married Roman Catholic priests. We are offering our priesthood to meet the spiritual needs of today’s Catholics. We share the same goals as our bishops: to guarantee that all Catholics have full access to Mass and the sacraments, and to work so that all Catholics experience the fullness of our Catholic tradition. These are the primary and the essential activities of the Church. When Rome formally reinstates all of us married Catholic priests to full participation in the Church, we will work in coordination with our bishops and our brother celibate priests who need our assistance. Until that day comes, we will use the pastoral provisions for married priests granted by 21 Canon Laws to serve any and all Roman Catholics who ask for our help. Through the Rent-A-Priest program, married Catholic priest couples are bringing the Mass and the sacraments into Catholic homes across the country.
Rent-A-Priest: A referral program with a catchy name
The Rent-A-Priest program was started in 1992 by Louise Haggett, a traditional Catholic businesswoman. Louise couldn’t find a priest to visit her mother in a senior assisted-living center. She was surprised to later discover that so many married Catholic priests would be available to help her, if only she knew how to find them and how to ask for their help. Louise founded an organization called "Celibacy Is The Issue" and started the Rent-A-Priest free referral service so that all Catholics, especially the elderly, would never be without a priest. She chose the catchy name "Rent-A-Priest" because it is easy to remember - especially in a crisis situation. As a result of her efforts, thousands of Catholics have received pastoral care from married priests and are learning things about our Church’s history that they never knew before.
I want to stress that the Rent-A-Priest program is a free referral service. The Rent-A-Priest initiative goes from month to month on the private donations of everyday Catholics like you. We maintain a computerized database of married Catholic priests across the United States. You can personally access this database 24 hours a day through our web site at CITI Ministries, Inc. You can also call our 800 number: 1-800-PRIEST-9. When you call, please leave your name, address, phone number and a brief description of the help that you need. We will be happy to send you information along with a list of the married Roman Catholic priests in your area. You can then contact your own local married priests directly. You can also write us a letter. Address it to Rent-A-Priest, P.O. Box 2850, Framingham, MA, 01703. If you have email capability, our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. It might be wise to learn who your local married priests are so that you will be prepared for unforeseen circumstances. Get to know the married Catholic priests in your area and keep their phone numbers handy. If you need a priest, you’ll have more than one option if a situation arises.
If the Sunday or daily Mass you’ve been accustomed to attending is no longer available due to the shortage of celibate priests, you have the legal right to call a married Catholic priest. If you are contemplating marriage or re-marriage, and have been turned away by the institutional Church, a married Catholic priest is available to provide you with a Roman Catholic ceremony that is fully recognized by civil authorities. If your loved one has no parish priest available for Communion and Anointing of the Sick, call a married Catholic priest for help.
Jesus always put people first. When faced with situations where he had to choose between obeying the dictates of the law and responding to human need, he always put people’s needs above the law and acted quickly to help them. Jesus never turned anyone away, and neither will married Catholic priests. Thank you for taking the time to listen to this message. May God bless us all!39 Popes Were Married!
'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin
"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross." --Sinclair Lewis
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