Celebrity Priest Says He Is Torn Between Church and Girlfriend

cutie may 11

The Rev. Alberto Cutié, known as “Padre Oprah” for his insightful advice about relationships, was removed from his post as pastor of a Miami Beach church in May 2009 when photographs in a Spanish-language tabloid showed the 40-year-old priest lying shirtless beside, and cuddling with, a dark-haired woman on a North Florida beach.

The Rev. Alberto Cutié, the Roman Catholic priest and international television and radio celebrity who was caught in tabloid photographs kissing a woman, said Monday that he was torn between two loves — the church and his girlfriend.

In an interview Monday with Maggie Rodriguez of the CBS “Early Show,” Father Cutié said he had been in a relationship for the last two years with the woman — identified in news media reports as Ruhama Buni Canellis, 35, a divorced mother living in Miami Beach — but had not decided whether to leave her or the priesthood.

“I think that when you love someone, you just don’t kind of say goodbye,” he said, adding: “I think you have to assume your responsibilities in many ways.”

The fall from grace for “Padre Oprah,” as he was known to fans of his television program and best-selling book, “Real Life, Real Love,” has been dramatic.

Since a Spanish-language tabloid published photographs of him frolicking with his girlfriend on a Florida beach last week, Father Cutié’s situation has inspired a raucous local debate — complete with a shoving match between his supporters and critics outside his former parish, and job offers from denominations that let ministers marry.

Catholics in this heavily Hispanic area, where megachurches and strip clubs vie for attention, have made their views on celibacy clear: a poll conducted in the last week by Bendixen and Associates, found that 74 percent of Catholics in Miami-Dade County oppose the Catholic Church’s policy prohibiting priests from having sexual relations; the poll had a 5 percent margin of error.

But even Father Cutié, 40, seems unwilling to completely abandon a policy that began in the Middle Ages.

He said in the interview that he supported letting priests choose whether to stay celibate or marry, but he also praised celibacy as “a good commitment to God.” He said he did not want to be a poster-child for only one side.

“I don’t want to be the anti-celibacy priest,” he said. “I think that’s unfortunate.”

Father Cutié did not wear his priest’s collar in the interview. His eyes, with deep bags beneath, suggested exhaustion, but he spoke eagerly, often gesturing with his hands, and displayed the smile, directness and charisma that have made him so popular in Miami and throughout Latin America.

He apologized repeatedly, saying that this was his first and only relationship as a priest, and that he knew his actions were wrong and “stupid.”

“I was motivated by love for someone, by a good thing, a healthy and a good desire in my heart,” he said. “And at the same time, I just need to make decisions. And I shouldn’t be making them in public, but that’s exactly what happened.”

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Full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/12/us/12priest.html?hpw

Photo: http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/alberto_cutie/index.html?inline=nyt-per

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See also:

‘Father Oprah’ Explains How to Make Love Last

Beliefnet Editor’s Note: Father Albert Cutie participated in this interview with Beliefnet in February 2006. Recently, he was placed on leave after photographs of the priest with a woman on a beach were published in a magazine.

Fr. Albert Cutié, a first-generation Cuban-American, is a parish priest in Miami’s South Beach. Since 1998, he has hosted a variety of Spanish-language talk-show television programs that reach an estimated 24 million homes in 22 countries. He also writes a syndicated newspaper advice column, “Advice from a Friend.” Dubbed “Father Oprah” by his fans, he has recently published a book, Real Life, Real Love: Seven Paths to a Strong and Lasting Relationship.

cutie may 16

As a celibate Catholic priest, you’ve probably been asked this before. How can you give advice to married people and people who want to get married? 

You don’t have to be mentally ill to be a good psychiatrist. I don’t think you have to be someone who has a real problem in order to relate to people’s problems. When you are in the help industry, especially as a priest, rabbi, or minister, you’re constantly hearing from people talking about marriage or sexual dysfunction. People naturally turn to religious figures for advice. Half the people who write to me are not Catholic.

In the Spanish-speaking world, everybody gets that. In the English-speaking world, however, people always ask, “What authority does that person have to talk about relationships?” It’s prejudices and biases and stereotypes about what a priest can and can’t offer. But in the Spanish-speaking world, that’s never been an issue for me, because those who have listened to my shows or watched them or read my columns, they get what I do: It’s no-nonsense practical advice for everyday life. It’s not dogmatic and pushing religion down your throat.

What advice do you give to single people about finding a mate who’s right for them?

People usually come to me with a very definite idea of who the ideal person is for them. It usually has to do with some physical characteristic. I tell them: That’s not important. What is important is seeking out someone you can love and give your life to. You have to base your search for a mate on the capacity to form those strong and lasting relationships.

What is the biggest impediment in today’s society to forming strong and lasting relationships?

The biggest issue is courtship and how people meet. There are things like speed-dating, where people say they are too busy to spend a lot of time getting to know someone and want to form a lasting relationship based on just a couple of dates.

When people are serious about a relationship today, they have to be careful not to fall into the traps that are out there. For example, rushing into physical intimacy. The relationship begins with the carriage in front of the horse. We rush into this very deep aspect of the relationship before we know each other, before we share our common values and goals for life. People are getting hurt left and right. In my book, I talk about how to establish the foundations first.

You talk in your book about our very high divorce rate. Are married people not making enough effort to save their marriages?

There’s a difference between getting out of a marriage because you’ve been abused, mistreated–and you’ve tried everything and there’s nothing you can do–and going into a marriage thinking if things don’t go my way, I’m getting out. There are good reasons to separate and divorce when there’s an abusive relationship, when things are not well, and when people are inhumane with each other.

But the real issue is that people go into marriage thinking, “When things don’t go my way, I’m outta there.” Just that attitude is single-handedly responsible for lots of divorces. People are not willing to struggle enough to keep this thing going. When they have issues—sexuality issues, communication issues, just basic unhappiness with themselves—they think, “If I get out of this, I’m going to feel better.”

What you find with a lot of couples is that they leave their marriages, get remarried, and find the same dissatisfaction once again. It doesn’t actually get better.

Divorce is never easy. It usually creates a real long-term emotional struggle, and people suffer. In some cases, it’s the only way out—I totally understand—but in many cases, it’s the attitude you enter the marriage with.

Have you been able to persuade people to stay in a marriage where the problems weren’t those obvious, serious ones such as abuse?

I’ve never seen that as my role. What I try to do is to facilitate the couple with two things. First, to be totally honest with them, to be that third party that tries to be as neutral as possible. Second, I try to give them some common sense, practical advice without the guilt trip of “Oh, you’re failing your marriage.” People need a helping hand, not a judge. Let God be the judge.

When I see that the couple is serious, which most of the people are, I send them to counseling. I don’t want them to think if they came to me, that’s it. No. You came to me, you’re beginning to scratch the surface. You need to commit yourself to a long-term counseling situation.

Psychology Today, which is not very church-friendly, put out a study—I believe in 1987 or so, I was in the seminary and I remember reading it with great care—it said Catholic celibate priests are among the best marriage counselors. People said, “Why?” Well, because when people come to them, people believe their advice is not just based on a common-sense practical psychological authority, it’s also based on a spiritual moral authority. If the priest says to them, “You know, you need to seek a counselor,” people are more prone to follow through.

In the book, I say, “Seek wise people, people who have lived successful marriages, and talk to them.” A lot of girls having trouble in their marriages, who are they hanging out with? Their divorced and separated friends. Well, guess what? That ain’t gonna help you very much.

We have life coaches for work, we have mentoring programs. Why don’t we have mentors for our personal lives and relationships?

Your book seems to gently prod people toward what is essentially a traditional Christian view of marriage: fidelity, sticking with marriage for the long haul, self-giving. Will those Judeo-Christian values work for everyone? A lot of people who have no religion must come to you.

If you want to enter a lasting relationship, you need common human values, apart from the spiritual values of faith and religion. Sometimes we may confuse traditional Christian values with basic human values: respect your neighbor, treat others well. But the book offers a perspective of faith. Faith and spirituality somehow help couples. It helps those who are seeking something more, a greater challenge.

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Full article:

http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/Catholic/2006/02/Father-Oprah-Explains-How-To-Make-Love-Last.aspx

Photo: http://www.buy.com/prod/202799978.html

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See also:

Polish priest publishes sex guide

https://abluteau.wordpress.com/2009/05/14/polish-priest-publishes-sex-guide/

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Cutié will get married soon

Alberto Cutié will tie the knot within weeks, say sources close to the former Roman Catholic priest who joined the Episcopal church in May.

Cutié and his fiancé, 35-year-old Ruhama Buni Canellis, recently hired several off-duty police officers to work security at the high-profile private wedding, which will take place at an unnamed Episcopal church in the next two weeks.

The Rt. Rev. Leo Frade, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida, will officiate at the ceremony.

One church not on the wedding list: Miami’s Trinity Cathedral, the diocese’s flagship church and one that dozens of reporters flooded after Cutié and Canellis switched Christian denominations on May 28.

Cutié left his position at St. Francis de Sales Catholic church in Miami Beach when photographs showing him nuzzling Canellis on a Florida beach — a violation of his vow of celibacy — were published in a tabloid in early May.

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Full article: http://www.miamiherald.com/entertainment/people/story/1095103.html

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See also:

Former Catholic Priest Has New Wife, New Life As Episcopalian

cutie june 20

The Rev. Alberto Cutie and wife Ruhama Buni Canellis chat with a member of the Church of the Resurrection in Biscayne Park, Fla., after services recently. Cutie is a former Catholic priest.

Alberto Cutie walked away from a Coral Gables, Fla., court early one morning this week, marriage license in hand, according to a record posted on Miami-Dade County Clerk of Courts Web site that lists 35-year-old Ruhama Buni Canellis as the bride.

The former Catholic priest is a widely popular figure among Latinos in the United States. He caused an uproar when photos showing him nuzzling Canellis on a Florida beach — a violation of his vow of celibacy — were published in a celebrity magazine early last month.

The couple were legally married by a judge Tuesday, but sources say they will have a religious ceremony in an unnamed Episcopal church. The Rt. Rev. Leo Frade, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida, will officiate that wedding.

Not on the church list: Miami’s Trinity Cathedral, the diocese’s flagship church and one that dozens of international reporters flooded after the former Roman Catholic priest and Canellis switched Christian denominations May 28.

Cutie gave his first sermon as an Episcopalian on May 31 at Church of the Resurrection in Biscayne Park and has started a yearlong process to become an Episcopal priest. In the meantime, he will continue to give sermons and rehabilitate ailing Episcopal churches, including the Church of the Holy Comforter in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood.

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Full article and photo: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/19/AR2009061902948.html?hpid=sec-religion