In the 4th century, debate raged within the Church surrounding both Christological and Trinitarian issues: were you an Arian, a semi-Arian, or a defender of Nicea? Do you believe that the Holy Spirit is God or not? People would literally get into fist-fights at the local shops over these issues. It is reported that jolly ol’ St. Nicholas punched the heretic Arius in the face during the Council of Nicea. People realized that these issues were vitally important, as all of Christianity revolves around the identity of Jesus Christ and the nature of the Godhead.
Today debates in the Church are not about such sublime and elevated topics. Most Catholics might not deny the Christological and Trinitarian definitions of the early Councils, but they don’t put much thought into them, either. Today our debates are over sexuality, specifically, what I like to call the “pelvic trinity:” abortion, contraception and homosexuality. This unholy trinity of issues are of course interrelated and they all revolve around our “right” to engage in sexual activities with no consequences. But these issues go even deeper, as they touch whether we have the right to define morality as we see fit, or if there is One above us who makes those determinations. Ultimately, it comes down to the question of who is in charge: us or God.
With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that disgraced Catholic priest Fr. Alberto Cutié (aka “Father Oprah”), who left the Catholic Church to become Episcopal after being caught with his mistress last year, has adapted his own views on sexuality to be more in line with his new ecclesial communion. He was recently ordained an Episcopal priest and now he is admitting that he had struggles with the Catholic Church’s position on the pelvic trinity:
As a Catholic, he secretly struggled with his church’s stance toward homosexuality, contraceptives and his own celibacy. As an Episcopalian, he’s speaking freely about his support of openly gay clergy, of birth control, and, when a woman’s life is in danger, even abortion.
This should come as no surprise, as the most common modern response to personal failures in the area of sexual ethics is not to repent and try again, but instead to redefine sin and continue in your activities. Fr. Cutié justifies his own failures in practicing sexual self-control by rejecting the immorality of just about any sexual activity. He exacerbates his own sin by encouraging others to engage in similar sins to make him feel better about himself.
But Christ through his Church has a better way: instead of wallowing in sin which harms the human person, the Church’s sexual ethic frees one to live as God designed us to live. And failure to live up to this sexual ethic is never total: even when we fall, Christ always offers us the grace – through confession and the Eucharist – to get back up and try again. We should never get discouraged, as success in the moral life is measured less by our falls than by how much we keep striving for holiness.
Please pray for Fr. Cutié that he might be one day reconciled to Christ in the Catholic Church.