1. Forgiveness: I was listening to Jaime Bayly and María Antonieta Collins talk over the case and I think we need to stop and take a deep breath. Where's the sin? All Fr. Cutié did was kiss and fondle a woman in public. If he were just a regular single Catholic guy he would not even have to go to confession for what was caught on film.
So: Do we need to forgive Padre Alberto who was just acting like a normal healthy man in love? Do we need to forgive him for "violating" a vow that he should never have been required to take in the first place? Or do we have to forgive a Church that for the last several decades has refused to listen to its own priests, bishops and faithful, that has refused to change its outmoded practices, and that, as a result, may force the departure of a good priest who has helped and comforted many people?
2. "Let the one who is without sin, cast the first stone": Great argument, Padre H. The only problem is that most people are not casting stones at Padre Alberto. In fact, most of the faithful, his parishioners and admirers understand and still love him. Calls into local radio talk shows are running largely in his favor, according to the news reports. The faithful correctly put the blame for Padre Alberto's temporary separation from the institution he has loved and served for many years directly where it belongs: on the Church's outdated mandatory celibacy policy. And online surveys taken by different news sources at the time of this incident reflect the same statistic taken in more formal surveys of the laity on this issue -- over 70% feel that the time for optional celibacy has come.
3. Biblical Error: In his second column, Fr. Hoyos perpetuates the erroneous notion that Mary Magdalene was the woman caught in adultery. There is NO EVIDENCE in the Bible that the woman being stoned was Mary Magdalene. The conflation of several different women into the figure of Mary Magdalene with absolutely no textual evidence to support it began with Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th century and has largely been refuted by Biblical scholars ever since. It has been perpetuated in popular culture through films such as "The Last Temptation of Christ" and Mel Gibson's "The Passion of Christ". The Church itself corrected this conflation in its 1969 revision of the Roman Missal and Calendar (See Mary Magdalene was None of the Things a Pope Claimed, U.S. News and World Report, 1/25/2008).
4. Factual Error: I would be interested to know where Fr. Hoyos got the assertion he makes in the first article that only 5% of priests have difficulty fully living out their celibacy vow while 95% believe it to be a gift of God that is worthwhile. This simply doesn't compute with any survey of priests I have seen. To cite but a few:
In the Survey of American Catholic Priests, 2001, 1,279 priests were asked a variety questions about celibacy. 37% indicated that celibacy was a problem for them and 47% indicated that loneliness was a problem. 54.8% agreed that celibacy should be optional and an even greater majority (70.4%) thought that the subject of optional celibacy should be at least discussed. None of this necessarily indicates an immediate personal desire to get married since only 11.4% said that they would probably get married if allowed to do so. Slightly over 50% agreed that the Church should invite former priests -- whether married or single -- to come back into service.
75% of priests in Argentina want optional celibacy according to a survey by that country's Bishops' Conference.
In a survey conducted earlier this year, 53.7% of Polish priests said they favored optional celibacy, 12% admitted to already being in a relationship with a woman, and 30% said they had been in a relationship at some point since their ordination.
A 2007 survey of priests in Spain found that 52.7% thought celibacy should be optional.
Nearly 80% of the priests in Belgium's Flemish region support the admission of married men to the Catholic clergy, according to poll results appearing in the newspapers Gazet van Antwerpen and Het Belang van Limburg in 2006.
And we could go on.
Celibacy is also frequently not observed. Here are some citations from Richard Sipe, Celibacy Is A Problem for Priests—And Laity Too. Sipe is an expert on the issue of sexual activity among the clergy:
- A study of Swiss priests published on May 12, 2003, revealed that 50% of that clergy had mistresses.
- Father Victor Kotze, a South African sociologist conducted a survey of the priests in his country (1991) and found that 45% had been sexually active during the previous two year period.
- Pepe Rodriguez published his book length study of the sexual life of clergy in Spain (La Vida sexual del Clero 1995). He concluded that among practicing priests ...60% have sexual relations...He further refined the figures of 354 priests who were having sexual relations: 53% of these were having sex with adult women, 21% with adult men, 14% were sexually active with minor boys and 12% with minor girls. "Although Rodriguez' book caused a monumental debate no one has challenged the reality of his numbers."
- Sipe's own 25 year ethnographic study of celibacy published in 1990 had drawn comparable conclusions about the celibate/sexual activity of Catholic priests in America. "I stand by my findings that at any one time 50% of American clergy are sexually active. When in 1994 a BBC television reporter faced Cardinal Jose Sanchez, Prefect of the Congregation of the Clergy at the Vatican with those and other figures from the study, the Cardinal's response was, 'I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of those figures.'"
5. A priest forever: Fr. Hoyos ends his second article with a true statement: "Padre Alberto usted será sacerdote eterno según el rito de Melquisedec". It is the same theological concept that the married priests in CITI and other married priests' organizations use to argue that they can continue to serve in spite of their marital status. Padre Alberto, whether or not you stay in the Roman Catholic priesthood under the current conditions, that seal you received at your ordination is indelible and even if you stay with that hottie, you will still be a priest in the eyes of God...and of many of us!