And the scandal here is…?

Alberto Cutie (centre) with his girlfriend, Ruhama Buni Canellis, and flanked by priests at his ceremony to join the Episcopal Church. Photo: AP

Alberto Cutie (centre) with his girlfriend, Ruhama Buni Canellis, and flanked by priests at his ceremony to join the Episcopal Church. Photo: AP

Okay, I haven’t been following this story, but…

I remember years ago, Fr Fleming telling me he was once asked to go on a TV chat show in Adelaide to speak about his conversion to the Catholic Church from the Anglican Church. When he got to the studio, he found that he was to be put up against another priest – an Anglican priest who had been a Catholic priest but who “converted” so that he could get married. At one point in the ensuing interview, the Ex-Catholic Anglican asserted that “there really is no difference between you and me, we both did the same thing, just in reverse.” To which Fr Fleming responded, “Excuse me, there is a world of difference. I left the Anglican Church and became a Catholic because I was convinced of the truth of the Catholic Faith. You, on the other hand…”

Well, I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. However, I am strongly reminded of that here. Fr Cutie (please tell me that isn’t his real name…) clearly isn’t joining the Episcopalians because he is convinced of the truth of the Episcopalian faith (whatever that may be). While the consequence of renouncing his priesthood to marry in the Catholic Church would have been an end to his public radio show, I am sure that he could have found a way of continuing to serve God faithfully as a laicised man in the Catholic Church.

But the REAL scandal in this case is glaring at you from the AP picture above. There is something simply obscene about the gloating bishops and clergy in the picture above. They look like they’ve just snared the biggest fish of their lives while fishing on their monday off, and are posing with it (before tossing it back in the water or…?).

By contrast, Fr Fleming was a big radio personality in Adelaide at the time of his conversion also. But his reception as a quiet private affair in the Cathedral one evening. Associated Press were not invited.

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15 Responses to And the scandal here is…?

  1. Matthias says:

    I agree re the real scandal being the gloating bishops and priests -all gas and gaiters to quote an Anglican term. When i first saw this picture I thought that there was an ungodly look around the ones in mitres or in dog collars. But then this is the Episcopal Church,the one that has the heretical Gene Robinson as a Bishop and where there is even one cathedral with a Mullah in residence.
    But the only cutie in this picture is standing in the front between the ‘Bishops’. Is the expression on her boyfriend’s face really saying “What have i done,” or a Dr Phul moment”What were you thinking?”

  2. Tap says:

    And sorry to be “spamming” your site at this time. But do you by any chance have a video or transcript of Father Fleming’s debate with the Anglican priest.?

  3. Schütz says:

    You’re not “spamming”, just visiting and commenting. Like you’re supposed to.

    And no, I this was so long ago – years before there were such things as “transcripts” and “podcasts” on the internet. Before there was an internet, for that matter. I had the story from Fr Fleming himself.

  4. Louise says:

    Fr Cutie (please tell me that isn’t his real name…)

    I swear, this reads like satire!

  5. Bruce Brown says:

    That’s his real name, although pronounced as koo’ -tee ay.

    He even said that the rule for priestly celibacy was good and should not be changed.

    Most of all, praise for Fr. Fleming!

  6. Louise says:

    He even said that the rule for priestly celibacy was good and should not be changed.

    But when it get’s too difficult, priests should just decamp to the Episcopalians!

  7. Jon Edwards says:


    You seem to derive a great deal of certainty from looking at a photo. It seems that Fr. Cutie has had an affair outside the bonds of marriage, and that is scandal enough to question his continuance in ordained ministry. Clearly, priests who take a vow of celibacy and subsequently convert to other branches of Christianity may well be choosing convenience over conscience, but it is also possible that the desire to marry and the resulting crisis of conscience is the prompt for a good faith re-assessment of what one has previously believed. I seriously doubt your ability to discern “clearly” the truths of which Fr. Cutie is or is not convinced. And the smiles on the faces of the other prelates can be interpreted in no more charitable way than “gloating”? It surprises me that, having shared with us many of the heart-wrenching details of your own conversion story, you would not be more reticent in assuming to know the motives and convictions of those involved in this story.


    • Schütz says:

      Fair enough, Jon. You are right. But for some reason I can’t seem to get the impression out of my mind that the four clergy in the picture are “gloating”. Maybe it’s just the way I’m looking at it.

      And as for Mr Cutie’s motives, lets dissect it logically.

      1) could he have married his girlfriend in the Catholic Church? Answer: Yes.

      2) Could he have continued to serve as a priest in the Catholic Church? Answer: No.

      3) Of what Episcopal doctrine could he have been so convinced that it was necessary for him to seek entry into that communion as a result of the revelation of his relationship with his girlfriend?

      Only one answer occurs to me, namely that in the Episcopal communion he could marry his girlfriend AND continue to serve as a priest. He as much says so when he points out that he doesn’t want to challenge the Catholic Church’s discipline of celibate clergy.

      So I acknowledge that my assumption of his motives IS an assumption, but is it an UNFAIR or UNCHARITABLE assumption in the circumstances?

      It would be a little easier to believe that he joined the Episcopal Church on the basis of a conviction of faith if he did so BEFORE his relationship was discovered and while he was STILL employed as a priest in his popular radio ministry.

      You are right. My own entry into the Catholic Church was “heart-wrenching”. I am sure that Mr Cutie experienced similar deep emotions in his recent ordeal. I have a reasonable degree of certainty, however, the “heart-wrenching” in my case was for quite different reasons than it was for Mr Cutie. I guess that when faced with “conversion” stories such as this, I feel that my own experience and act of faith has been somehow devalued and cheapened. I think Fr Fleming was expressing the same thing in the story he told me. What I did and what Mr Cutie did were NOT the same thing. There is indeed “a world of difference”.

  8. Jon Edwards says:

    “Only one answer occurs to me, namely that in the Episcopal communion he could marry his girlfriend AND continue to serve as a priest. He as much says so when he points out that he doesn’t want to challenge the Catholic Church’s discipline of celibate clergy.”

    Yes, that is the crux of the matter. And it may be that all this has no broader significance than one man’s desire to “have it all,” so to speak. But the Catholic Church’s discipline is bound up with doctrinal questions of primacy. Perhaps the desire to marry and the desire to continue priestly ministry led to an honest questioning of the Petrine primacy which prevented both from occurring in this case.

    As a Lutheran, I can certainly acknowledge, celebrate, and give thanks for the ways in which the Petrine Ministry has been a gift to all Christians. The imposition of mandatory celibacy for priests seems to me to be a misuse of the Petrine primacy. I know that celibacy is described as a discipline, not a doctrine. However, the discipline depends on the doctrine of papal primacy. It does not seem inconceivable that those who disagree with the discipline would come to doubt the doctrine. If so, perhaps it is more honest to join another communion than to ask that a primacy in which one does not believe be exercised to change a discipline with which one disagrees.

    • Schütz says:

      No, Jon, I believe you are making a connection that does not exist in either the mind of the Church or the mind of your average Catholic (not the same thing, BTW). Mandatory celibacy has to do with being a Western Rite Catholic, not with the Primacy of the bishop of Rome. It is conceivable that the discipline could be relaxed with no effect on the primacy. Also there are eastern rite Catholics who acknowledge the primacy but are not subject to the discipline of celibacy. In the end it has far more to do with the differring coceptions of the nature of priesthood than the question of primacy. Mr Cutie will fnd that he has swallowed far more than the right to marry by his act of conversion to episcopaslianism.

  9. Collin Michael Nunis says:

    I don’t see the link between the discipline of mandatory celibacy and papal primacy. Never have I encountered such a link in the Catechism.

    I strongly disagree with Cutie’s actions, as this shows a lack of integrity, and for me, the virtue of integrity is very important as a Catholic. However, his choices are his to make and he is answerable to God alone, which should be enough to stop us from “angelising” him. Most importantly, I do believe that he will not last long in the Episcopal Church as he will be marginalised in the long run.

    After all, for all that Cutie is, I can’t find any evidence suggesting that he is a Christless liberal that the Episcopal Church is actually is. Expect him to defect to another denomination within a year or two.

  10. William Tighe says:

    “Could he have married his girlfriend in the Catholic Church?”

    Doubtful, as she is a divorcee.

    • Schütz says:

      I didn’t know that. Thanks for the detail. Even then, I guess, there might have been hope. If we lay our messy lives honestly before God, usually he sorts us out one way or another.

  11. William Tighe says:

    The other thing that has hardly been reported, and, when reported, not discussed, is that for the past year or more Fr. Cutie seems to have been “bargain shopping” between the Episcopal Church, the ELCA Lutherans and an unspecified Baptist group, before choosing the first of these three.

  12. Sharon says:

    . For the past two years, Cutié had been in the discernment process with the Episcopal Church. The Diocese of Southeast Florida had planned to accept him by the end of the year, but the photos changed all of that, Frade said in a telephone interview.

    I read on another blog that for about a year he used to ‘joke’ with his colleagues that he was going to join the Episcopalians.

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