Sunday, May 31, 2009

What Is the Church?

The recent defection of Father Alberto Cutie to the Episcopal Church disturbs the BAD CATHOLIC in a number of ways. (Father Cutie appears above flanked by Episcopal Bishop Leo Frade and Father Cutie's fiancee Ruhama Canellis).

First, let me say that it is not my place nor my intent to judge Father Cutie. Our priests are only human and the vow of celibacy is difficult. We should pray everyday for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on our priests.

However, I am disturbed by how fast his vows as a Catholic priest were abandoned in order be a Protestant minister where he can marry his girlfriend and continue his career as a clergyman.

Presumably, as a Catholic priest, Father Cutie was supposed to believe that the Catholic Church is the one true church established by Jesus Christ. The Baltimore Catechism says "We know that the Catholic Church is the one true church established by Christ because it alone has the marks of the true Church. . . . We know that no other church but the Catholic Church is the true Church of Christ because no other church has these four marks.

1. One Faith, One Sacrifice, One Sacramental System, One Head.

2. Holy in its Founder, Holy in its Teachings, Holy in its Means of Grace, Holy in its Members who follow the Teachings and use the Means of Grace provided.

3. Catholic. It is not the Church of one nation or one race, but of all nations and all races.

4. Apostolic. It can trace its origin back to the Apostles on whom Christ founded the Church.

Only the Catholic Church has all four of these marks. It alone is the Church Christ founded. But we must convince men of this by love. . . ."

Of course, Father Cutie can engage in the High Church Anglican fantasy that "Anglicanism" is a branch of the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. They can argue that Reformation Archbishop of Canterbury THOMAS CRANMER and other English bishops who became Protestants stood in apostolic succession and that the Protestant bishops whom they subsequently ordained were, therefore, in Apostolic succession. Therefore, so the argument goes, Anglican bishops are in apostolic succession and Anglican holy orders are valid. For a number of reasons, which are too detailed to go into here, the Catholic Church has always rejected this argument. As a former Anglican/Episopalian, I cannot believe that a Catholic priest would seriously accept this argument as correct. The harsh truth is that the Episcopal Church is a Protestant church with some trappings of catholicism.

Second, I am disturbed by the manner in which Father Cutie's conversion to Protestantism has been handled. Apparently, neither Father Cutie nor the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida bothered to notify Archbishop John C. Favalora of the Catholic Archdiocese of Miami that Father Cutie was going to be received into the Episcopal Church and then ordained an Episcopal priest. An article at Episcopal Life Online reports that Father Cutie had already undergone a two year discernment process for the Episcopal ministry, presumably under the nose of his Catholic superiors. It seems to the BAD CATHOLIC that it would have been polite to at least tell the Catholic Archbishop that this was coming and not make him hear it for the first time on the news. At the point that Father Cutie was even thinking about becoming a protestant, he should have notified his superiors and resigned from active ministry in the Catholic Church. I think that Archbisop Favalora is totally justified in saying that Episcopal Bishop Frade's actions are "a serious setback for ecumenical relations and cooperation between us."

Episcopal Bishop Frade was quoted by Episcopal Life Online as saying "We welcome Father Alberto into the ministry of the Episcopal Church. 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." This statement heavily implies that the Roman Catholic Church does not have "spiritual growth, love, forgiveness and a sense of community." Therefore, the Episcopal Church is "a beacon of hope" for Father Cutie and other victims of Roman Catholicism.

I know that many of my friends are members of the Episcopal Church. What I am about to say will probably hurt their feelings. Please forgive me. In my opinion, the Episcopal Church has theologically degenerated to the point that you can pretty much believe anything you want to and still claim to be a good Episcopalian. There is very little that one can do, other than fail to be politically correct under current cultural standards, that will be definitely condemned by the Episcopal Church as sin. So violating one's ordination vows is certainly no big deal. Father Cutie should make an excellent Episcopalian.

1 comment:

  1. Think of the little old Hispanic ladies who had such great respect for him. All his conservative TV viewers, readers of his books ... he just threw it all away so he could have a woman. Pretty sad.