Celibate Love

Over the past week, a scandal has ripped through the heart of Spanish-speaking Catholicism and spilled over into the national network morning television programs.

At the center of it is Fr. Alberto Cutié, a telegenic 40 year-old priest of the Archdiocese of Miami, who, though largely unknown to most English-speaking Catholics, has for a decade been the country’s most well-known Spanish-speaking cleric. He has been dubbed “Padre Oprah” for his work as a host of television talk shows on Telemundo, weekly programs on EWTN Español, call-in shows on Radio Paz and Radio Peace, syndicated advice columns in Latin America newspapers, and best-selling Spanish self-help books.

Last week, Father Alberto’s parish and priestly apostolates were thrown into chaos as 25 paparazzi photographs of him amorously interacting with a 35 year-old divorced woman on a Miami beach appeared in a Mexican entertainment magazine. He was immediately relieved of his parish assignment and archdiocesan duties by Miami Archbishop John Favalora and given time and space for him to pray about his future. In a public statement, Fr. Alberto acknowledged the scandal and apologized to all those whose faith had been hurt by his actions. He seemed to recognize the truth of the old Latin aphorism corruptio optimi pessima, “the corruption of the best is worst of all,” and that his fall from grace is more than just another tale of a priest unfaithful to the promise of chaste celibacy.