Exclusive: Padre Alberto returns to television -- with his own show
There is no calm without a storm, nor fame without scandal with a moment for redemption. Father Albert Cutie, or Padre Alberto as he is known, launches a new television program for Fox on the 11th of July.
The new show, 'Father Albert,' will host guests from different faiths and walks of life who have asked to be on the show to help them through their personal lives.
AOL Latino spoke exclusively with Padre Alberto about this new chapter in his life, following his departure from the Catholic Church in which he was ordained, to then become an Episcopalian man of the cloth and marrying and fathering a daughter with Ruhama Canellis. Canellis has a 16-year-old son from a previous marriage.
AOL Latino: What can we expect from this new show?
Padre Alberto: After 11 years working in radio and television and in the press through my columns, I received the invitation last year to develop this new show in English. One of the things that interests me most is reaching people with difficulties and their problems to help find a solution. My personal dilemma was so highly publicized and commented on that everyone knows that I overcame my own difficulty, my own dilemma, and had to make a decision in the midst of a crisis. We all face dilemmas and problems we must overcome and attempt to resolve, and that is what the show is about.
AOL Latino: Why did you decide to return to television and accept the invitation?
Padre Alberto: My first reaction to the invitation was not to work in television at this time because, since my transition [to the Episcopalian church] in May 2009, my focus has been on marriage, family life, my small congregation -- my parish in North Miami.
When the invitations came that first year, I didn't want to continue working in the media. In reality, this is the proposition upon which they insisted. They persuaded me that they needed this type of show. The proposition came from them. It wasn't something I planned. People just don't plan for certain things in life. In an ideal world, I would've planned to do shows in both Spanish and English.
AOL Latino: The show is recorded in New York. Do you plan to abandon your parish in Miami?
Padre Alberto: The first part of the show will indeed be in New York, but I haven't yet moved. I am still the priest at my parish. When the show launches nationally, we have to make the decision about where it will be produced. Miami is being considered as a production hub.
AOL Latino: For how long is the contract?
Padre Alberto: We're only just starting to record. There are 22 shows planned for this trial run, and we've recorded about four to six already.
AOL Latino: Can you tell us about the guests on the show?
Padre Alberto: I'm the host, but guests speak to me about their dilemma as a person. We tell them that there is no dilemma, or problem that has no hope of resolution. People of all faiths, nationalities, races; it is a diverse audience. One of the interesting things is that a large number of Latinos, especially the younger ones, prefer Spanish-language television. I think we will see many Anglos, Latinos, different ethnicities.
AOL Latino: Do part of being the host, are you the one who guides guests through their problems?
Padre Alberto: My function is that the guest who comes with that pain, a problem, leaves the show with some measure of hope that a solution is not only possible, but that they can transform their lives. We have experts in psychology as well. I'm not the only expert charged with offering a solution; there are others who collaborate on the show with us.
AOL Latino: Do you think that those who initially turned their backs on you will return?
Padre Alberto: I don't think so. It's very difficult for people to understand that friendship, that understanding, and what it truly means to show support for someone in good times and bad. Love is unconditional, and one forgives everything, tries to forget everything. But people at times by their behavior demonstrate that they are not ready to confront the reality that as humans, we all fail -- that we can all fall beneath the ideals and norms of society. One has to demonstrate love and compassion at all times. I've done that with my friends. Real friends are few.
AOL Latino: Have you forgiven those who judged and turned their backs on you?
Padre Alberto: In my heart there's only love and understanding for others. I am not a person who holds grudges. Yes I was surprised by people for whom I was there for in their most difficult times of their lives who didn't do the same for me. As a person, yes I was surprised, but I forgive them.
AOL Latino: Cristina Saralegui has been a good friend to you, and she will soon debut her own show on television. Are you still in contact with her?
Padre Alberto: Not really. Although I've invited certain members of Latino television to be a part of special moments in my life, they've opted to distance themselves from me, but I think everyone has to take things as assumed. There are those that are incapable of forgiveness, and one should not impose that upon anyone. I think one has to accept that everyone thinks differently.
AOL Latino: Had this invitation to host a new television show come from Univision or Telemundo, would you have accepted?
Padre Alberto: I think so. If it was something that was in line with what I'm focusing on, why not? I want to do something positive, dignified, that will truly help people. And if there's that level of interest in mind, I would host that type of talk show in Chinese. I want to help people. And there are few Hispanic talk shows about which the focus is positive. There was a time when there were more shows like that, but I don't see them these days.
AOL Latino: How are your wife and child?
Padre Alberto: They're working, too -- by coming to the recordings of shows as much as they can. My daughter is 7 months old now. She's precious, a good girl. My 16-year-old son is working hard on the show, working part-time during the summer, so it's been very positive. Since I began in the Episcopalian church, I don't minister alone. My wife shares in the preparation of couples, professional orientation, in the class we minister to couples. It also helps my son in becoming an altar boy. They share everything in my life.
AOL Latino: When you were celibate, did you ever imagine your current life?
Padre Alberto: I always figured that in my life, from the time I was 6 or 7 years old, that I would be married and have a big family. I think that's a dream that almost all of us have. When the calling came to be a priest, the only education I had was to be a Roman Catholic priest. Celibacy was a condition, but I never saw celibacy as a the central point of the priesthood, I saw it as something that could be changed. On several occasions, I asked myself what it would be like if for the first thousand years of history a priest would be allowed to have a wife like Saint Peter did, Saint Andrew and almost all of the apostles. I've always felt that in my mind I accepted celibacy without ever thinking that would change in me. I feel very blessed to have the best of both worlds: to plainly be a servant of God while at the same time be a married man and happy.
Will you be watching 'Father Albert?'
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