Monday, February 14, 2011

Bikeless Chronicles, part 1: reading about forbidden love

Padre Alberto's latest book [Amazon link].

Some of you may remember Fr. Alberto Cutié from his extensive media presence on his various radio and television programs in both English and Spanish (and a Twitter feed, too!). Some of you may remember him from the news a couple years ago, when he was caught on the beach with his girlfriend, Ruhama. Subsequently, he left the Catholic church, was received into the Episcopal church, married the lovely Ruhama in the Episcopal church, became a priest in the Episcopal church, and now has a baby daughter!

During part of my bikeless commute, I read his latest book, Dilemma: A Priest's Struggle with Faith and Love. As a self-proclaimed bad Catholic with Episcopal leanings, I was certain I would enjoy the book.

As you can see from the book cover image above, Padre Alberto's distractingly handsome face is all over the front cover of the book, complete with the distinctive white collar and the word DILEMMA printed across his chest. It's not the easiest book to read on public transit in a town with such a strong Catholic history, but I suppose that dealing with difficult or embarrassing issues head-on is part of the point. Additionally, a couple friends and I have started referring to Padre Alberto as Fr. Hottie.

Fr. Hottie skillfully recounts his experience with the baffling hypocrisy of the Roman Catholic hierarchy with regards to its priests' mental and emotional health. Through Fr. Hottie's pretty blue eyes, we see the church as a questionable employer who doesn't quite take care of its employees or clients, whose higher-ups have lost sight of what it's like on the ground, and where a person really can sleep his way to the top.

Fr. Hottie also documents his ideological shift from Rome to Canterbury, wading through issues including homosexuality, birth control, papal infallibility, and priestly celibacy. The tabloid exposure of his relationship with Ruhama precipitated the final push on the road to Canterbury. For all the support that Fr. Hottie got during the media mayem, he also got a lot of negative fallout about betraying the one true church. This sense of betrayal undoubtedly stems from the spoon-fed propaganda that the Roman Catholic church is the one true church, whereas those Protestants were total jerks about that Reformation thing.

Huh. Aside from the publicity, this sounds a lot like my own ideological struggle and the shit-fit that my parents had when I told them that the husband and I have started attending an Anglo-Catholic church that better fits our ideals and spiritual needs.

I very much enjoyed Fr. Hottie's book. This book was exactly what I needed to read at this point in my spiritual journey. I has given me a lot to think about, especially in the coming weeks, when my husband will be presented to the local Episcopal bishop. Yet for some reason, I still can't quite bring myself to participate in the reception ceremony. Who knows? With Fr. Hottie's book in the back of my mind at next month's ceremony, I may yet change my mind for next year.

Gracias, Padre Alberto.

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