Making Priests into "gods" is setting yourself up for trouble. Giving them celebrity cult status raises them from who they are to who you imagine them to be and borders on idolatry. Priests are ordained to be "other Christs", not "other Oprahs" or "other Brad Pitts". Every Priest is your Priest: whether old or young, introvert or extrovert, cover of GQ or cover of New England Journal of Medicine's "Dropped at Birth" issue. To think otherwise is to fall into the trap that the Corinthians fell into: "I belong to Paul," or, "I belong to Apollos," or "I belong to Cephas." (1 Cor 1:12) There's only one Savior in the Church's organizational chart, and that job's been filled.
A story about this that ran in the Miami Herald had this line in it:
"Cutie told CBS he has been romantically involved with the woman in the photos for about two years."
Yes, TWO YEARS. That's when he lost me. This wasn't a momentary lapse in judgment. For two years he has been living a "double life"; this was a conspiracy. For two years he planned his life around when he could be with her and where they could go and not be recognized. Did any of the parish staff know? Did parish funds pay for meals, etc.? What if they were simply spotted on the beach last week with no photos taken; would he be denying it right now? Is he sorry because of breaking promises he made on Ordination day or is he sorry that he got caught? Now he says he'll begin to think about whether to leave her or to leave the Catholic Church and marry her. I mean, really, if you're her, can you trust him? He's already made the promise of lifetime fidelity before.
And, let's face it. If Padre Alberto looked less like himself and more like, well, me, no one would care if he was leaving the Priesthood over a relationship. Though they might take the girl for an eye exam.
He needs prayers, true, but he also needs a long time before the Tabernacle to understand what he has done. So do those who are saying that the Church's centuries-old discipline of celibacy needs to change just for the sake of Padre Alberto. After all, he's not a god.