Celebrity priest caught with woman joins Episcopal church

The Rev. Alberto Cutie, the celebrity priest removed from his Miami Beach church after photos of him kissing and embracing a woman appeared in the pages of a Spanish-language magazine earlier this month, has left the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami to join the Episcopal church.

The small, private ceremony happened early Thursday afternoon at Trinity Cathedral, the church's South Florida headquarters in downtown Miami. Bishop Leo Frade, head of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida, officiated as Cutié knelt in front of the bishop and was received into the Episcopal church.

''I thank God for the many people in our community who have shown me their love and support,'' read a statement by Cutié. ``Your prayers have sustained me at this time of transition in my life. With God's help, I hope to continue priestly ministry and service in my mew spiritual home.''

At a news conference in front of the church, Cutié is expected to announce that he will marry his girlfriend, whom media reports have cited as 35-year-old Ruhama Buni Canellis, a divorced mother living in Miami Beach.

Cutié got into trouble with the Archdiocese of Miami earlier this month when compromising pictures of the 40-year-old cleric were published in the Spanish-language magazine TVnotas. The magazine's cover showed the priest in blue shorts lying on his back embracing a woman with long brown hair, a violation of his vow of chastity. Additional photos inside the magazine showed him kissing the woman.

Such a relationship is not prohibited in the more liberal Episcopal church, which considers itself the ''middle way'' between Protestantism and Catholicism. It ordains women and has an openly gay bishop.

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