By Diane Romero Singerman
Albert Cutié was one of the most visible priests in the world courtesy of his Miami-based Spanish-language media ministry. This young Puerto Rican-born priest was a household name at the height of his popularity among the Spanish-speaking faithful who religiously watched his nationally televised show Padre Alberto.
Yet, Father Cutié was a man caught in a familiar battle that has faced many priests throughout the ages. The only difference with Cutié was that his battle was happening in front of a national congregation.
In the book, Dilemma: A Priest's Struggle with Faith and Love, Cutié recounts his life story and the behind-the-scenes drama of falling in love with a divorced woman that would eventually force his fall from grace.
The book, published by Celebra, traces Cutié's childhood and family life, which molded him to make the initial decision, as a young man, to join the priesthood. What followed was a journey of commitment by an idealistic new priest -- until a national network came knocking with a tempting offer.
Cutié was approached by the Spanish-language network Univision to start a TV ministry that would engage Spanish-speakers around the world. Unable to resist the offer of spreading the message of God's love on the small screen, Cutié accepted and found himself working many hours in the studio. It wasn't long before Cutié found that balancing his spiritual calling with his newfound secular popularity was taking a deeper toll on his spirit and soul.
During this stressful period in his life, he met a divorced Catholic single mother named Ruhama. He was instantly attracted to her, and she was attracted to him.
For a man who had vowed celibacy, these new feelings caused confusion and served as the impetus for reflection on his role as a Catholic priest and his place in the Church.
However, as hard as he tried to remain strong in his vows, he couldn't forsake his deepening love for Ruhama, nor could he any longer reconcile the contradictions he saw happening behind closed Church doors.
Cutié reveals his deeply personal views of the Church and what he witnessed -- priests treating the priesthood only as a career, not as a mission, as he did. He was disturbed to see how favoritism played out among some of the priests that would result in resentment among the clergy about promotions, distribution of parishes, etc.
Further, he was disillusioned seeing regular homosexuality within the priesthood and the dismissal of good priests, while he felt criminals were being "protected" in some cases.
Loyal Catholics will be uncomfortable with his frankness, but he is compassionate toward the laity of the Catholic Church and the priests that he found to be honorable and faithful.
When Father Cutié' decided he wanted to marry Ruhama, he left the only church he knew, and joined the Episcopal Church where he could follow his heart by marrying his true love.
In the process, he became a stepfather to Ruhama's young son, as well as, remaining a spiritual advisor by trading in his Roman Catholic collar for that of an Episcopal priest.
Cutié doesn't just begin a new life as a married man and stepfather tending to a new flock in a new church but he fulfilled the dream of fatherhood for himself when he and Ruhama had a child together.
This is an enjoyable read for those interested in the Catholic church but it will fascinate those in search of an intriguing true-life love story about a forbidden love and a personal battle with the traditions of one of the world's oldest religions.
Diane Romero Singerman, based in Oklahoma City, is a Latina Lista contributor.