Archbishop John C. Favalora of Miami made a statement on Thursday afternoon in which he revealed that he was kept in the dark about Fr. Alberto Cutié's decision to join the Episcopal Church. The archbishop also stressed that by his actions, Cutié has forfeited his rights as a cleric but is not dismissed from the promise of celibacy he freely made.
“I am genuinely disappointed by the announcement made earlier this afternoon by Father Alberto Cutié that he is joining the Episcopal Church,” Archbishop Favalora began.
The Archbishop of Miami then detailed the consequences of Fr. Cutié's action, saying that the priest had separated himself from the communion of the Roman Catholic Church “by professing erroneous faith and morals” and by “refusing submission to the Holy Father.” Father Cutié will no longer be allowed to legitimately celebrate the sacraments in the Archdiocese of Miami, and he cannot preach or teach on Catholic faith and morals. “His actions could lead to his dismissal from the clerical state,” the archbishop stated.
Despite his decision to leave the Catholic Church, Archbishop Favalora pointed out that “Father Cutié is still bound by his promise to live a celibate life, which he freely embraced at ordination.”
“Only the Holy Father can release him from that obligation,” he explained.
The archbishop also addressed the impact of Fr. Cutié's actions on the faithful of the archdiocese.
“Catholic faithful of Saint Francis de Sales Parish, Radio Paz and the entire Archdiocese of Miami, I again say that Father Cutié’s actions cannot be justified, despite his good works as a priest (statement of May 5, 2009). This is all the more true in light of today’s announcement. Father Cutié may have abandoned the Catholic Church; he may have abandoned you. But I tell you that the Catholic Church will never abandon you; the Archdiocese of Miami is here for you.”
“Father Cutié’s actions have caused grave scandal within the Catholic Church, harmed the Archdiocese of Miami − especially our priests – and led to division within the ecumenical community and the community at large. Today’s announcement only deepens those wounds,” said Archbishop Favalora.
The head of the Catholic Church in Miami explained that when he met with Father Cutié on May 5th, “he requested and I granted a leave of absence from the exercise of the priesthood,” a request that was granted.
However, since that meeting, the archbishop informed, “I have not heard from Father Cutié nor has he requested to meet with me. He has never told me that he was considering joining the Episcopal Church.”
Adding salt to the wound was the fact that Episcopal Bishop Leo Frade of Southeast Florida also never spoke with Archbishop Favalora about the situation.
“Bishop Frade has never spoken to me about his position on this delicate matter or what actions he was contemplating. I have only heard from him through the local media,” the Catholic prelate stated.
The event has also caused a “serious setback for ecumenical relations and cooperation” between the Catholic and Episcopal churches, Archbishop Favalora charged.
He also noted that the “Archdiocese of Miami has never made a public display when for doctrinal reasons Episcopal priests have joined the Catholic Church and sought ordination. In fact, to do so would violate the principles of the Catholic Church governing ecumenical relations.
“I regret that Bishop Frade has not afforded me or the Catholic community the same courtesy and respect.”
Referencing the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the archbishop told his fellow Catholics that, “If our brother comes home, let us celebrate with the Father.”
The Archbishop of Miami finished by commending “the priests of the Archdiocese of Miami and all priests who faithfully live and fulfill their promise of celibacy.”
“In our times so pre-occupied with sex, the gift of celibacy is all the more a sign of the Kingdom of Heaven where, as scripture says, there will be 'no marrying or giving in marriage.' I encourage all Catholics to pray for and support our dedicated priests,” he said.
To read the full statement by Archbishop Favalora, please visit: http://www.miamiarchdiocese.org/ip.asp?op=H1000090528ACE