Bishop Favolora's statement in the post below this one is a heartfelt expression of the grief that a good pastor feels upon losing a member of his flock. At the end he comments on the parable of the prodigal son, in the hope that Fr Cutie will return to the Catholic Church.
When I heard this news, I thought of something from the rules of St Ignatius about making discernments. A few years ago Fr Timothy Gallagher, OMV, gave an excellent workshop about St Ignatius and discernment. He said that if we were to forget everything about it except one thing, this is the one thing to remember:
Never make an important decision, especially a life-changing, vocational decision, when you are in a time of darkness and confusion. The decision will very likely be wrong-headed. Ignatius always stressed that the Holy Spirit speaks in calmness and peace.
We can pray for Fr Cutie and ask God to give him the courage and strength to come back to the Catholic Church. As Bishop Favolora says, Cutie's decision to renounce his Catholic faith is certainly a bad one, and for a priest in particular, it carries with it grave scandal and is very serious. While this is not to judge Fr Cutie's soul, since only God can do that, his external actions objectively give scandal. It seems likely that since his 2-year relationship with a woman was suddenly made public, he's probably not in the best emotional state of his life. To make a decision about changing one's church at such a time is exactly what St Ignatius was talking about. It's too bad that Fr Cutie took this action without first going away for a time of retreat, reflection and prayer.
He's going to be preaching in the Episcopal Church next Sunday. Since it's been revealed that Fr Cutie has been carrying on an affair for the past two years, to me it seems incongruous that he will now be preaching, as if he did nothing wrong.
I'm not writing this as a judgment on his state of soul, for that is not up to me. But Jesus also said, "By their fruits you will know them." I take that to mean we ought not to let ourselves be discouraged from leading a good life by the bad example of other people. The letter to the Hebrews says "Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus." If we do that, we'll never be scandalized.