Point of clarification: Alberto Cutie is not an “ex priest.” I’m pretty sure the laicization process is not this fast, and, even then, as I understand it, one is still a “priest forever.”
He may be a suspended priest, meaning his canonical status is the same as the bishops and priests in the Society of St. Pius X. He is now an apostate priest, having officially joined a non-Catholic religion (we will ignore for the time being of whether Epicopalians are schismatic).
The bishop of Miami has expressed dismay over the fanfare the Episcopalians are giving to Cutie’s defection, noting the Catholic Church tries, in spirit of “ecumenical dialogue,” to be discreet–certainly not to gloat–regarding the conversions of Episcopal priests to Catholicism.
Interestingly enough, apparently when the bishop’s statement was read at Fr. Cutie’s now-former parish, the congregation applauded–the bishop, not their former pastor.
If Cutie was some guy who left his wife for another woman, would the media be presenting him as a hero? If he was a psychologist who ran off with a patient, would the media be presenting him as a hero?
Seeing pictures of Cutie, I’m struck by the same feeling I always had about the former Fr. Francis Mary Stone: he doesn’t “look like” a priest.
Again, why is he known as “Father Oprah”? He looks too “cool.” I’m not speaking of his physical appearance but his demeanor, his facial expressions. When I think of the best priests I’ve known, they always have a certain air about them. Sometimes, they appear more serious and authoritative. Sometimes, it’s a gentle and compassionate air. Usually, it’s a combination of both. But you don’t get the impression that he wants to be your “buddy. “
Wearing the cassock or habit and the right Mass vestments certainly help, but a holy priest carries a certain authority about him, the authority of a man who is truly living in persona Christi. There are priests who, when they enter the church, I rise; not just because it’s the time to rise, but because their presence, in their liturgical role, is so awesome you *feel* the presence of Christ in them, you feel the sense of an authority to which the most powerful secular ruler pales.
When I think of Fr. Paul Scalia, Fr. Christopher Mould, Fr. John Riley, Fr. Greg Kirsch, Fr. Jacques Daley, OSB, Fr. Chris Lefrois, OSB, Fr. Tony Rigoli, OMI, Fr. John Riley, Fr. Michael Duesterhaus, Fr. Jerry Orsino, OMI, Fr. Richard Mcalear, OMI, Fr. Gode Iwele, OMI, Fr. James “Pablo” Burke, CSsR, Fr. Mark Moretti, Fr. Phillip Majka, Fr. Richard Harris, or the FSSP priests whose masses I’ve attended, or several others whose names I can’t recall offhand, even the currently-suspended Frs. James Haley and Christopher Buckner, despite many differences in style or temperament or spirituality, I would not dare to compare any one of them with Oprah Winfrey.
That’s not to say there aren’t a few priests I *could* think of comparing to Oprah Winfrey. . . .
Lastly, to demonstrate that the Episcopal Church is the perfect place for Catholics like Fr. Cutie, let’s hear this commentary from Rev. Lovejoy, in the role of an Anglican Bishop before battling the Spanish Armada in a recent Simpsons episode:
“Lord Jee-zuz, although our country turned Protestant for the sole reason that our fat, mean king could dump his faithful wife, we know You’re on our side. So, please destroy these horrible monsters who believe Your Mother should be revered!”