January 24th, 2011
11:02 PM ET
By the CNN Wire Staff
Almost two years after racy photos exposed his relationship with a woman and prompted the end of his tenure as a Roman Catholic priest and media star, Albert Cutie on Monday said celibacy is not necessary or particularly healthy for those aiming to heed God's call.
Speaking with HLN's Richelle Carey to promote his best-selling book, "Dilemma," Cutie (pronounced koo-tee-AY) criticized Catholic doctrine that prohibited priests from marrying. The South Florida resident married the woman shown in those photos - one of his former parishioners, Ruhama B. Canellis. After leaving the Roman Catholic Church, he started on the path to become an Episcopalian priest in spring 2009.
"Unfortunately, (Catholic) priests are forced to choose between something that is very good - like your love for God and the church - and something that is also very good - which is the love of your partner, your wife," he said.
Cutie added that the Catholic Church's emphasis on celibacy, which prohibits "a healthy sexual life that you would have with a married partner," did little to further priests' overall mission of serving God.
"In the church, we talk a lot about violations that have to do with sex, but we forget that there are other things that can also be violations of giving your single-hearted service to God," he said. "And that happens in the church every day."
Before the scandal, Cutie was sometimes called "Father Oprah" because of the advice he had given in Spanish-language media, where helmed several talk shows and served as president as Pax Catholic Communications. But his image came crashing down when photographs published in TV Notas magazine showed him embracing a woman in a bathing suit.
Within weeks, the Cuban-American admitted to having a two-year relationship. On Monday, he said his only regret was that the media detailed his relationship with Canellis before he could do so himself.
"I never expected that the paparazzi would have announced my dilemma before I could," Cutie said.
After the photographs surfaced, he was removed from his duties at St. Francis De Sales Catholic Church in Miami Beach and on the Radio Paz and Radio Peace Networks.
When Cutie signaled he planned to become an Episcopal priest, the archbishop of the Catholic Church's Miami archdiocese said he was "deeply disappointed."
"Father Cutie's actions have caused grave scandal within the Catholic Church, harmed the Archdiocese of Miami - especially our priests - and led to division within the ecumenical community and the community at large," John C. Favalora said in a statement.
Cutie said Monday that, growing up, he dreamed that he "would have 10 children and a wife."
"But then you you receive this call from God. And one of the conditions, unfortunately, as a Roman Catholic (priest) is that you accept celibacy as a discipline," he said.
Discipline is central to much of the Catholic Church's doctrines, he claims, given restrictions on everything from watching pornography to drinking or smoking too much. In comparison, he said, a monogamous, loving relationship should not be seen as a vice.
"The excess of anything that is not healthy that you are using to compensate the healthy sexual life that you would have with a married partner - those things are violations of celibacy, too," he said.
He said that his relationship with Canellis or decision to leave the Catholic priesthood, something he claimed many others do every day, wasn't planned or easy.
"But I think love happens, and sometimes you have to make a choice," said Cutie, who is serving at The Church of the Resurrection in Biscayne Park, Florida.
Asked if he were to have a son whether he would try to persuade him not to become a Catholic priest, Cutie said it would be "sad" that his son would have to choose between his faith and marriage. The better option, he said, would be to join him and be a priest in the Episcopal Church, which shares many of the same beliefs and practices as Catholicism.
"I don't think those kids really have a fair shot at ministry, because they are being told this beautiful thing (marriage) you saw in your home, you're not able to do it here because celibacy is a requirement," he said. "So it would be difficult for me to say to my child, this is right for you."
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