Sunday, May 10, 2009


Padre Alberto's fall from Roman Catholic grace has all the makings of a TV movie and, unfortunately, all the trappings of a circus.

Alberto CutiƩ, the charismatic 40-year-old priest and book author, was captured frolicking on a Florida beach with a woman -- their pictures on the cover of a Mexican magazine sold here. He has stepped down from his Miami Beach church, immediately apologizing for his misbehavior but vowing to keep serving the Lord.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Miami, which has rightly come under fire for years for taking its sweet time to investigate allegations of child abuse among pedophile priests, worked quickly to strip CutiƩ of his duties while he prays and contemplates his future.

For the most part, Miami's Spanish-language talk radio and TV shows have been sympathetic, recalling all his good works and lamenting that the Catholic church requires celibacy of the clergy. Over and over again, callers have said: He may be a priest, but he's still a man. The church rule is the problem, not the priest. Maybe so, but what happened to personal responsibility? Had Padre Alberto gone to his bishop as soon as he felt like straying from his vows, he would have been honest with himself, God and the church.

Padre Alberto long had championed celibacy as an option, not a requirement.

In truth, it's not church dogma, such as the divinity of Jesus Christ or the Holy Trinity. It's a rule required centuries ago, in part because the Vatican worried that the priests' widows and children were taking riches from the church.It's an outdated requirement in a church that is scrambling for priests and nuns, who also are to remain chaste.

While Catholics struggle with this latest scandal, Padre Alberto surely has options.

He can become an Episcopalian priest, for instance, where men and women -- yes, they allow women to lead churches, Praise Jesus! -- can go to the beach and cuddle up and not be castigated because they can marry. Episcopalian Bishop Leo Frade, who oversees the Southeast Florida Diocese of almost 300 priests (including five former Catholic priests) told me Thursday that he would welcome Padre Alberto with open arms...The apostle Peter, after all, was married.

The idea of celibacy is that a single man can devote his entire life to his flock.

''I say, sure, he or she will have more time, but a single person will have to spend a lot more time than our clergy turning away God's gifts, suppressing their sexuality,'' Frade said. ``We have chaste priests. That's OK. That's their prerogative.''

For many years this Cuban American priest has been the poster boy for South Florida Hispanic Catholicism. He is handsome, well spoken and very down to earth! His many virtues and work in the favor the church have gained him the admiration of many in and out of the Catholic Church.

My prayers for padre Alberto, his relationship with God and his family. One should not have to choose between the priesthood and love, both are gifts and callings of God.

The Episcopal Church has married priests, he certainly would be welcome...and it appears bishop Frade is wasting no time in extending the invitation!

Padre Alberto la Iglesia Episcopal te da la Bienvenida!



Friday, May 1, 2009

'Etiquette guide' for Thai monks

A Buddhist preacher in Thailand has announced plans for new guidelines aimed at curbing the flamboyant behaviour of gay and transgender monks.

The "good manners" curriculum - the country's first - is being introduced in the northern province of Chiang Rai. The senior monk told the BBC he was particularly concerned by effeminate activities among novices such as the wearing of make-up and tight robes.

Senior monk Phra Maha Wudhijaya Vajiramedhi told the BBC he would address issues like smoking, drinking alcohol, walking and going to the toilet properly, which are all detailed in the traditional 75 Dharma principles of Buddhism, and the 227 precepts for monks. He was especially concerned, he said, by the flamboyant behaviour of gay and transgender monks, who can often be seen wearing revealingly tight robes, carrying pink purses and having effeminately-shaped eyebrows.

Thailand has a very large and visible population of transgender men, and Phra Vajiramedhi acknowledged that it was difficult to exclude them from the monkhood but he hoped his course could at least persuade them to curb their more extrovert habits. If successful, the "good manners" course, at the Novice Demonstration School, would be replicated at other Buddhist monasteries and seminaries, he said.

Hmmm and I though Episcopalians were having troubles...



Do Unto Others...?

The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new survey.More than half of people who attend services at least once a week -- 54 percent -- said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is "often" or "sometimes" justified. Only 42 percent of people who "seldom or never" go to services agreed, according to the analysis released Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified -- more than six in 10 supported it. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only four in 10 of them did.

The analysis is based on a Pew Research Center survey of 742 American adults conducted April 14-21. It did not include analysis of groups other than white evangelicals, white non-Hispanic Catholics, white mainline Protestants and the religiously unaffiliated, because the sample size was too small.

The survey asked: "Do you think the use of torture against suspected terrorists in order to gain important information can often be justified, sometimes be justified, rarely be justified, or never be justified?" Roughly half of all respondents -- 49 percent -- said it is often or sometimes justified. A quarter said it never is.

The religious group most likely to say torture is never justified was Protestant denominations -- such as Episcopalians, Lutherans and Presbyterians -- categorized as "mainline" Protestants, in contrast to evangelicals. Just over three in 10 of them said torture is never justified. A quarter of the religiously unaffiliated said the same, compared with two in 10 white non-Hispanic Catholics and one in eight evangelicals.