Thursday, May 28, 2009

Popular Miami Catholic priest joins Episcopal Church

Father Alberto Cutie, the Miami priest suspended from his parish and Catholic radio posts after photos of him with a woman were released by a tabloid magazine, joined the Episcopal Church May 28 at a ceremony at Miami's Trinity Cathedral.

Father Alberto Cutie "I have decided to become part of a new spiritual family within the umbrella of Christianity," he said in a statement. "As I have been saying and writing for years through my work in communications, instead of focusing on our differences, let's work together so that all may come to believe in a loving and good God, even in the midst of this changing world."A statement from the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida said he would pursue becoming a priest in that church but it was not clear how long the process would take.The Cuban-American priest, said during a May 11 interview on CBS' "The Early Show" that he has had a two-year romantic relationship with the unnamed woman shown in the photos published May 5 in the Spanish-language magazine TVNotas.Father Cutie, dubbed "Father Oprah" because of the advice he gave to couples on Spanish-language radio and television, had been administrator of St. Francis de Sales Parish in Miami Beach and general director and president of Pax Catholic Communications.In his statement, published in English and Spanish on his Web site,, the priest asked people to respect his privacy and the privacy of his loved ones after his new decision."There have been lies, innuendos, rumors and even hurtful actions by those seeking to profit from my life and struggles in this time of transition. I respectfully ask that all these things stop now," he said.He also said he would be "continuing the call to spread the message of God's love and the vocation God gave me to priestly service."Father Cutie stressed that his decision to join the Episcopal Church did not just begin a few weeks ago."I have searched my soul and sought after God's guidance for a long time. I have also spoken to friends in and outside the Episcopal Church about their service to God and the many similarities that exist among the various branches of Christianity, which profess the Catholic faith," he explained.He emphasized that his own personal struggle "should in no way tarnish the commitment of so many brother priests who are celibate and faithful to their promise. I will always love and hold dear the Roman Catholic Church and all its members who are committed to their faith and have enriched my life."The Associated Press said the Father Cutie was expected to announce that he will marry his girlfriend; the Episcopal Church allows its priest to marry.The priest said he was "humbled by the support of so many people throughout the world and in our own community" and especially thankful for the unconditional love and support of friends and family.Father Cutie, whose name is pronounced koo-tee-AY, was born in Puerto Rico to Cuban parents and grew up in Miami. He was ordained in 1995; four years later he developed an international following with his television show, "Padre Alberto," which was first broadcast on Telemundo.He has appeared on Spanish-language radio programs, including the Miami archdiocesan radio station Radio Paz. The priest has also written newspaper advice columns and the 2006 self-help book, "Real Life, Real Love: 7 Paths to a Strong, Lasting Relationship."

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