Miami People

Alberto Cutie: Post-Catholic Padre

What's it like to have your name be forever associated with the word canoodling? Father Alberto Cutié — priest, television personality, man who doesn't mind getting a little sand in his shorts when he makes out on the beach — seems to be taking it in stride.

In case you haven't spoken to your Hola!-subscribing abuelita since spring 2009, we'll fill you in. Roman Catholic Miami padre Cutié, who rose to Latin American superstardom — and acquired the dubious nickname "Father Oprah" — by hosting a series of television and radio shows, was snapped by a Mexican tabloid photographer, well, canoodling with a woman on South Beach sands. Cutié admitted to a two-year affair with the woman, and within a month he had ditched the Archdiocese of Miami for the Episcopal Church. That beach lover — Ruhama Buni Canellis — is now his wife and mother to their new daughter.

The uproar that ensued in the meantime, including a Time magazine feature about the scandal, suddenly made the eloquent, personable, and blandly handsome priest all things to all people. To fervent supporters — who at one point defended his honor with tabernacle fisticuffs — his plight only highlighted the unrealistic and dooming Vatican finger trap that is the priest's vow of celibacy. To detractors, he was just another hypocritical priest leading a double life of sexuality. This publication opined that he "dumped Jesus for his girlfriend."

For some reason, Cutié — who was born in Puerto Rico but raised here and attended Southwest Miami Senior High — talked to us anyway. "I don't feel proud of breaking my promise of celibacy," Cutié says, but he's also through apologizing. His real sin in the eyes of the archdiocese, he believes, was he admitted to the affair rather than conforming to its "culture of secrecy."

"The church would have been perfectly happy if I had gone away, preferably for ten years, to a monastery in Siberia."

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