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Outreach Not Sheep Stealing, Bishop Frade Contends: TLC 7.10.09 July 11, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Living Church, Roman Catholic Church.
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First published in The Living Church

Sheep stealing is not the motive for the Episcopal Church’s outreach to Hispanics the Bishop of Southeast Florida told a July 9 press conference at General Convention in Anaheim, but a response to the pastoral and spiritual needs of the fastest growing segment of the American population.

The Rt. Rev. Leo Frade lauded proposed Resolution B038, which he said would “provide for the full inclusion of Hispanics into the life of the church,” by allocating funds for printing Spanish language materials. “We are not going to steal sheep,” by printing prayer books and catechetical materials in Spanish, he said, but will give the church the “tools we need” to reach the un-churched.

The bishop’s comments were made against the backdrop of the visit to General Convention by former Roman Catholic radio priest Fr. Alberto Cutié and his wife, Ruhama Buni Canellis. Fr. and Mrs. Cutié attended the lecture on the world economic crisis given on July 8 by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, and socialized with Hispanic bishops and deputies the next day.

Bishop Frade rejected allegations made by Roman Catholic commentators that his reception Fr. Cutié was an act of opportunity, calculated to recruit South Florida Hispanics into the Episcopal Church. Fr. Cutié was “a person like many others” who was engaged on a spiritual journey, the bishop said.

Bishop Frade said that Fr. Cutié had been praying about the move for two years, and had come to the belief that he preferred the Episcopal Church’s stance “not only on gays, but on divorced people and on birth control” to that of the Roman Catholic Church.

Taking his concerns over priestly celibacy to the Roman Catholic hierarchy would have led to his being “put in the funny farm” to be retrained, Bishop Frade said.

On May 5, TVnotas published photos of Fr. Cutié—the host of the Archdiocese of Miami’s Spanish language Catholic Radio program which is broadcast across Latin and Central America, drawing over 22 million viewers—in an amorous embrace with a woman identified as Ms. Canellis. Roman Catholic Archbishop John Favalora of Miami suspended Fr. Cutié from his parochial duties pending an investigation, but on May 28 Ms. Canellis and Fr. Cutié were received into the Episcopal Church, and announced that after a two year relationship, they were to be married.

Archbishop Favalora complained that Fr. Cutié had not been released from his vows as a Roman Catholic priest and had not submitted to the discipline of the Church.

“Bishop Frade has never spoken to me about his position on this delicate matter, or what actions he was contemplating,” Archbishop Favalora said. “I have only heard from him through the local media. This truly is a serious setback for ecumenical relations and cooperation between us.”

The Archbishop’s claims were overblown, Bishop Frade said. The “Archdiocese of Miami is not necessarily an ecumenically minded diocese,” he noted, adding he had not spoken with the Archbishop for four years.

Fr. Cutié “fell in love. Now he kisses [Ms. Canellis] and nobody pays attention,” the bishop said.

Bishop Frade added that he would not stand in the any of those whose spiritual journey had led them to the Episcopal Church. The “road to and from Rome and Canterbury,” has been so busy “that we will need to put in a traffic light,” the bishop said.

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