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Dilemma: A Priest's Struggle with Faith…

Dilemma: A Priest's Struggle with Faith and Love

by Father Albert Cutie

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Although you might think the story is about his "dilemma" to leave the church for the woman he loved, the book is set up much more to examine the practice of celibacy. From the beginning of his story, to the last several chapters that are more of a persuasive essay on the negative side of celibacy, his book seems to be more of an argument against celibacy and more about the acceptance of married priests and an acknowledgment of sexuality as a part of mankind. As such, and with this thesis, the book comes together with a pretty powerful message that man's sexual nature cannot just be demonized and then skirted around or ignored, but must be addressed and encouraged in positive ways. In fact, Cutie has strong empathy for priests who have been demonized or cast aside because of scandals that have reflected badly on the church. One of his main issues with priesthood, as he currently see it, is that those who remain to secretly carry on sexual affairs and such are more successful in the priesthood than those who choose to share their struggles and desires and want to get help. This has then encouraged a culture of secrecy that reaches the highest levels of the church and continues to create an atmosphere where men joining the priesthood continues to plummet.

I remember seeing Father Cutie and his now wife in the pictures that broke in the news across the country, and even his later interview on the Oprah Show. Yes, it was big news that this famous Roman Catholic priest was caught canoodling on a beach in Miami, and I remember thinking that he was incredibly naive to think he could go out on a beach somewhere with a woman and NOT get caught! In the book, he describes what led up to this and how he had already admitted in his own confessions to another priest his feelings for his now wife. At this point, his disillusionment with the priesthood, the issue of celibacy, and the entire sexual scandal that continued to hang over all priests in the church was a bigger issue than even his decision to leave the priesthood to get married. His decision was not between the woman he loved and the priesthood, it was between his faith and his priesthood. In essence, had he not been caught, he could have continued a secret relationship with her and never admitted to any of it. However, because of his own determination to leave the Catholic church, he left and joined the Episcopal church, where he is currently serving as a married priest (who was also expecting a baby girl with his wife at the time the book was written).

As I'm not Catholic, I have to say that I was unfamiliar with priests and what they have to do to join the priesthood. Fr. Cutie's explanation of the priesthood and the troubles it encounters were extremely enlightening, especially considering the horrific spread and cover up of sexual abuse that has been uncovered across the country. Cutie shares at a later section of the book that studies within the priesthood show that over half of all priests are homosexual, leading to a serious question about the forced cover up that is actually encouraging men who want to be faithful Catholics to choose priesthood and celibacy as a way of avoiding that lifestyle. The church has recognized this to be a real challenge, and although homosexuality is not a precursor to becoming a pedophile, it has pushed all sexuality into the closet (so to say) and caused some priests to express their desires in secret and undesirable ways. As part of his argument, Cutie takes on sexuality and desire as part of his thesis that the modern church (all churches) need to address sexuality as a part of man's normal, natural development, and to take it out of the shadows of secret and shame. His arguments are strong, and seem to make a great deal of sense from my outside point of view, but I wonder how the Catholic church would tackle these issues of priesthood celibacy, women in the priesthood, and even birth control.

Dilemma is a very well written book, with a well focused point of view. Although I wanted to understand more about his wife, what she thought or felt, or even more of the emotional turmoil behind falling in love, I came to realize that this was not the goal of his story. It is very obvious that his story is not about the agonies of love, but about his struggle with faith. As such, I thought it was an exceptionally written, fine tuned argument about man and faith from his own experience. I read the book from cover to cover in one sitting and did not feel that it was gratuitous or even self-serving for that matter. Yes, Cutie has a bias against celibacy in the priesthood and has strong feelings about problems within the priesthood, but I didn't feel that he was out to convince everyone to like him. His real message was about a problem as he saw and experienced it and his own resolution. Overall, I thought it was very well done. ( )
1 vote mjmbecky | Jul 27, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451232011, Hardcover)

He was a Roman Catholic priest whose love affair became headline news. Now, he shares his explosive story-in his own words...

In this deeply personal and controversial memoir, Father Albert Cutié tells about the devastating struggle between upholding his sacred promises as a priest and falling in love. Already conflicted with growing ideological differences with the Church, Cutié was forced to abruptly change his life the day that he was photographed on the beach, embracing the woman he would later call his wife.

Once a poster boy of the Roman Catholic Church-loved and admired by millions-Cutié found that he was not happy and able to live as a celibate priest, especially having to defend the number of positions he was no longer in agreement with. For years he kept his relationship a secret, while he soul searched and prayed for answers. The love that he deemed a blessing was bringing him closer to God, but further from the Church. In Dilemma, Cutié tells about breaking that promise, reigniting the very heated debate over mandatory celibacy for Catholic priests, beginning a new way of life and discovering a new way of serving God.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:50 -0400)

A former Roman Catholic priest and author describes breaking his promise with the Church after being forced to hide his love for a woman for years and reignites the heated debate over mandatory celibacy.

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