The Vicar Writes

Our guest columnist, The Rev’d Humphrey Blytherington, Vicar of St Hilda’s, Little Snoring and All Souls, Great Snoring, comments on all things Anglican and English.

I say chaps, I saw in The Times last week about this Roman Catholic priest who’s been caught having a bit of a slap and tickle with a lady friend at the beach. Goes by the name of Cutie. Cutie by name, Cutie by nature I say! Harr. Harrh.
It came as a bit of a surprise to Mrs. Vicar I can tell you. But I said to Daphne over our morning papers, that it’s only what we’ve come to expect from those Roman chappies. It’s a sad thing to admit, but I haven’t known one of them who hasn’t had either an elbow problem or some difficulties in the trouser department. I expect it’s all down to their being hot blooded Italians or Spanish. The Irish are much the same really–no sense of self control.
Not long ago a good number of them Stateside were having problems interfering with altar boys and lads in the choir. Far be it from me to cast stones on that one! Goodness knows that sort of thing was all part of the rough and tumble of school life for us English lads. But we understood that it was just a part of being a schoolboy, and if one of the masters at school was a bit heavy with the cane or a bit sweet on one of the lads we let it slide. No sense making a mountain out of a molehill. We got over it.
Now the newspaper chappies are having a hey day with this handsome Roman chappie Cutie. But how can you blame a fellow for having a bit of a squeeze on the beach? Nothing wrong with that in my book! He’s just a red blooded male, and nowadays who minds what a fellow does with his gal as long as no one gets hurt in the process?
I reckon the problem is with the Roman Church. They will insist on this medieval superstition of celibacy for their clerics. It’s just not healthy lads, now is it? Which one of you would want to sit on the sidelines your whole life? Not me I can tell you! If they’d just admit they are wrong on this one all their problems would be solved. If their priests were allowed to marry they’d stay at home with the missus and not be seen cavorting on the beach with a lovely in a swimsuit.
Yes, I know the Vicar of Dead Boring tootled off with the organist’s wife, and the Archdeacon of Bitonside was caught with a member of the youth group, but that’s beside the point. The real problem is this rather daft Roman celibacy rule, and behind that is the fact that the Romans are just plain stubborn. They can’t admit they’ve got it wrong.
You see my dear fellows, it all goes back to the papal infallibility thingie. I mean, have you ever heard of anything quite so preposterous? How can an ordinary human be infallible? It’s a bit of a stretch isn’t it? I mean to say, the Pope in Rome is an ordinary bloke like you or me. He steps into his trousers one foot at a time. You see, the Romans can’t admit they’ve got it wrong over celibacy or they’d have to admit that their Pope in Rome is not infallible. Well, they’re not about to do that are they now?
Far be it from me to be negative about the Roman Church. In many ways they have a lot to offer. They’ve done a wonderful work down the years being the mission to the Irish naavies and Italian waiters, but when it comes right down to it, it’s a good thing they haven’t been able to take over our country like they want to.
No, we need good old English common sense, and the ability to compromise where we need to. I read yesterday that this Cutie fellow has decided to join our church, and I’m on his side. Just because a fellow has broken a vow is no reason why he shouldn’t be welcome as a clergyman in the Anglican Church. What I say, is not, “Has he broken a vow?” but “Was that vow sensible in the first place?”
Anyway, enough from me lads, anyone for another half pint of lager shandy?

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  • Remy Rosenhoover

    Father Cutie is showing the same identity confusion many lay Catholics show when they become divorced. Validly married Catholics are married no matter what a judge may write in a divorce decree. Spiritual realities bound on earth are bound in heaven. When a couple celebrates the sacrament of marriage a real change occurs in the spiritual relationship between two people. Likewise, Father Cutie will always be a Catholic priest. Let us pray Father Cutie will not tolerate the abominations he sees i n his new ministry and that he returns to the Roman Catholic church. At least we can hope that the Episcopalian laity will be motivated by the valid Eucharist they receive to seek the one true Catholic Church.

  • shadowlands

    I suppose the Episcopalians are offering the couple much needed band aid for guilt,the sore will still fester underneath though.In my experience,passion is very strong between lovers at first,it can drive us humans insane but the ‘feeling’ doesn’t last.It makes false claims,pretending to be all fulfilling,in fact it is all consuming.When the true cost of deifying romantic love becomes apparent,one or the other may begin to despise the relationship and idealize about having had a different unfolding of events.I do identify with them though,being a flawed human myself. Thank God for Jesus Christ and hoped for rescue from this body of death.Our God is a completing God,He finishes what He starts,so having bought and paid for them at such cost, He’ll remain faithful to Fr Cutie and his lady friend according to His plan,even if they are, at present being unfaithful to Him.Pray the Rosary for them,it works.

  • Seminarian X

    One commentator, an Episcopalian himself I believe, said that there is a “lot of traffic between Rome and Canterbury” and this sort of thing isn’t unusual. But just think about the sort of trades we’ve made with the Anglicans over the years. They gave us Cardinal Manning, Cardinal Newman, Fr. Ronald Knox, Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, Fr. George Rutler, and our beloved Fr. Longnecker just to name a few. And what we’ve given the Anglicans: sexaholic poet John Donne and the infamous Fr. Cutie. The road between Canterbury and Rome seem to a one-way East-bound highway with a few nutters driving in the wrong lane.

  • Richard Ballard

    I bet that it won’t be too long before Fr. Cutie is made an Episcopalian bishop!BTW, as I understand it, even though Fr. Cutie is a true priest, he won’t validly confect the Eucharist if he uses the Episcopalian liturgy since that liturgy (and the Book of Common Prayer as a whole) denies the essential Catholic doctrines of Eucharistic sacrifice and transubstantiation, among other things. It would be a lack of proper intent, which is always expressed externally by what one does, and not by a mere internal disposition. So, the Episcopalian laity won’t be receiving the motivation of a valid Eucharist (as per Remy), but I doubt that will trouble them overly much.

  • kkollwitz

    As soon as I saw this topic I was thinking Richard Ballard should post….which he has.”So, the Episcopalian laity won’t be receiving the motivation of a valid Eucharist (as per Remy), but I doubt that will trouble them overly much.”I expect the orgy of self-congratulation will crowd out any thought of ‘valid Eucharists.’

  • francis

    "I haven't known one of them who hasn't had either an elbow problem or some difficulties in the trouser department."Seems a perfectly reasonable summary to me.

  • Gail F

    TEC accepted him rather quickly, didn't they? Is it that easy to join? And wouldn't you want to be a bit more circumspect with the man? I'm just sayin, he seems to say one thing and do another in more than one arena. What says the vicar??

  • Remy Rosenhoover

    @Richard1583 CCC states "because the character imprinted by ordination is forever…". A Catholic priest performing an Epicopalian High Church Eucharistic celebration certainly does allow Christ to act and trans-substantiate the bread and wine:See the USCCB link ("we affirm the reality of the change by consecration as being independent of the subjective disposition of the worshipers." As a Catholic I cannot receive the Eucharist from Father Cutie in an Episcopalian church. That does not mean that a High Church Episcopalian catholic will not receive a valid Eucharist. Christ will always be able to act through Father Cutie to bring about Eucharist. This is fundamental to the sacrament of Holy Orders. It seems to me that I can find an abundance of Catholic teaching to support my view. Nothing Father Cutie says or does will change the fact that Father Cutie is forever a Catholic Priest; albeit a fallen priest in need of our prayers. Likewise, a validly married Catholic couple is married until death no matter what: a divorce decree does not change the reality that the couple is married; nor does the behavior once married of either spouse change the reality that the couple is married.

  • George Weis

    HAHAHA! This one had me rolling Father D! I mean, you have the Brit-thingie down pat :DThis one has me wheezing (my asthma kicks in when I laugh to hard)! Good stuff!The true tale is sad, but this satire is right on par!Bravo!-g-

  • Agnes

    Undoubtedly, once passions have subsided, conscience will begin to trouble them and they could become resentful of one another for screwing up their vocation. It would take a holy man to look this woman in the eyes and say, “You know, this is all wrong. I’m sorry I did this to you, to myself, and to our blessed Lord. I am a priest. I need to go back.” It is my prayer that after chewing through his share of corn husks, he will eventually return to a Father rushing towards him with open arms. Very, very difficult situation for the woman though – I don’t think anyone has really addressed what she must be suffering. Maybe a blanket statement, but affairs tend to hurt women more.

  • justrobnj

    Entertaining, but I would appreciate hearing your reflections on the Cutie’ matter without the lens of a fictional character. Given your background, I believe you are uniquely situated to comment on this matter.The fact that the Episcopal bishop failed to consult with the Catholic bishop and chose to make the announcement in a press conference is particularly bad. The Archbishop of Miami made a very good public statement on the matter, and referred quite honestly to the anti-eccumenical nature of the Episcopalian action.

  • Richard Ballard

    Remy, just because a man is a validly ordained priest, that does not mean that the sacraments he attempts to administer are always going to be valid no matter what. For example, under normal circumstances the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Matrimony require that the presiding cleric have the proper “faculty” or jurisdiction for those sacraments to be valid. Thus, if a suspended or laicized priest (who nonetheless remains a true priest!) attempts to hear confessions or preside at a wedding, those sacraments would be invalid. Moreover, according to the Council of Trent (sess. VII), for the valid conferring of any sacrament, the minister of the sacrament must have the intention of doing what the Church does. This is accomplished not only by having the proper internal disposition to do so, but also by using the external rite that has been established for the sacrament by the Church. Thus, even a validly ordained priest can not confect a valid Eucharist if he uses an external rite that actually denies or omits what the Church proclaims and does (which, I believe, is the case with the standard Episcopalian Eucharistic liturgy).So, at the very least, the validity of any Eucharist that Fr. Cutie attempts to confect using the liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer would, in my opinion, be called into question.I am, however, certainly not an expert in these matters, so I am open to instruction by someone more learned in this field. Fr. Longenecker?

  • margi

    I do hope you were at Walsingham last week, Reverend, and not in one of those cassock albs that make the entire procession look like the ‘before’ scene in a detergent advert. I said exactly that to Mr Collins as we drove past the road sign for Little Snoring (Norfolk is a lovely county even if you are too near Fakenham), I said, “I do hope Mrs Blytherington has sent the vicar out in a really nice lace alb.”

  • brad

    This fictional priest, a code name for Father L., is so quick to be comical about Father Cutie, who indeed broke his commitment to celibacy and did cause a grave scandal in his Diocese and in the Church at large….but I find it so shocking that many of these former Baptist, former Episcopal priests who convert to Roman Catholicism with their WIVES and FAMILIES are so quick to judge the REST OF US who are celibate ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS and have been CATHOLIC SINCE BIRTH… guys take on this holier than thou attitude; why is that? why is it that so many former Episcopal priests do not fit in to the presbyterate in their Dioceses and do not attend Deanery meetings or other Diocesan events? They do not come to Deanery meetings, retreats, or other events? They are anomalies and are albatross in the priesthood of Christ.

  • Fr Longenecker

    Brad, maybe they don’t go to deanery meetings and other diocesan events because they’re made to feel un welcome by holier than thou celibate cradle Catholic priests.This has not been my experience. I’ve found nothing but a warm welcome from my fellow priests in the deanery and diocese, but if some absent themselves perhaps that is why.

  • Remy Rosenhoover

    @Richard.I must concede your points. The church can restrict the faculties of the priest to minister within the Catholic church. However the Church cannot change what the Holy Spirit has done through the sacrament of Holy Orders. CCC 1584 “Since it is ultimately Christ who acts and effects salvation through the ordained minister, the unworthiness of the latter does not prevent Christ from acting.”The disposition of the Episcopalian receiving the Eucharist does not invalidate in any way the Eucharist received. The priest should not allow reception of the Most Blessed Sacrament because the receiver is not in communion with the Catholic church. The disposition has to do with the receiver showing the proper respect to worthily receive Christ.That said only the Anglican’s or Episcopalian’s would accept Father Cutie as a priest a future married priest. Eastern Orthodox, as do Roman Catholics do not allow priests to marry once ordained. The Roman Pontiff does grant dispositions to married priests of certain certain faiths who come home to Rome.

  • Remy Rosenhoover

    @bradSo you say you are "CATHOLIC SINCE BIRTH" so what? The thief on the cross is in heaven with Jesus. God's justice is not based upon a seniority system. You say "They are anomalies and are albatross in the priesthood of Christ." That hardly sounds like a respectful comment on the teaching and judgments of Blessed John Paul II. See

  • Roland

    Gail F asks:TEC accepted him rather quickly, didn't they? Is it that easy to join?Fr. Cutie had already been in discernment with the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida for two years, and the diocese was planning to accept him by the end of the year. So his move to TEC was already in the works, and they just sped it up by a few months.

  • Steve

    Fr Cutie said (no kidding) "When you love someone, you'll do anything"! No-one seems to have picked up on the irony of this statement made in an interview just after his long period of discernment became so conveniently suddenly and totally complete.