In Defense of Father Oprah

There is not much one can say in defense of a charismatic, celebrity-priest who violates his promise of clerical celibacy, resists correction, uses his superstar status to bash Church discipline, and then responds favorably to a crass church-hopping invitation from an opportunistic Episcopalian gentleman who calls himself a bishop. After all, adding defection from the true Church (a sin against the theological virtues of faith and charity) to a crime against clerical celibacy (sins against the moral virtues of chastity and religion) is raising the ante a bit, is it not?

Mustering all the powers of sympathy, compassion, and understanding I am capable of, however, I will advocate the cause of Father Alberto Cutié the best I can:

If there is salvation outside the Catholic Church, who cares whether he becomes an Episcopalian?

On a more serious, but related, note, why is nobody saying that Father Cutié is sealing his eternal damnation if he persists in his defection? One of the popular attenuations of “no salvation outside the Church” renders it into a moratorium against leaving the Church: “there’s no salvation outside the Church — for Catholics.” Surely, a well-known Catholic priest qualifies as a subject for the “soft” version of this dogma, does he not? Yet, with all the ink spilling on the subject of “Father Oprah,” this observation seems woefully original to your humble servant.

Philosophers are lonely people.

But Father Cutié is not lonely, is he? Pastorally, a warning is in order to all of his followers, who may soon find themselves Episcopalians. They aren’t exactly hypothetical natives on a desert island. They are real people who can be reached by the powerful means of communication at our disposal, just as Father Cutié reached them in the first place.

They may even have Twitter accounts.