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Ex-Fla. Catholic priest writes of romance in book

The Associated Press, Monday, January 3, 2011, 11:26am (PST)

MIAMI (AP) -- A former Catholic priest from Miami who left the church after photos surfaced of him kissing his then-girlfriend is criticizing church leaders in a new book and calling their stance on priests' romantic relationships hypocritical.

Alberto Cutie — dubbed "Father Oprah" by the English-language media for his relationship advice — left the Roman Catholic Church in 2009 to become an Episcopal priest.

Paparazzi photos of Cutie kissing Ruhama Buni Canellis, whom he later married, caused such a media frenzy that CNN en Espanol broadcast his announcement to leave the church on live TV, and one Miami Spanish-language TV station cut into its regular programming to report the news. Cutie, who now heads the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Biscayne Park, and his wife have a daughter, Camila.

Cutie details his once-secret relationship and speaks candidly about his former church in a new book, "Dilemma: A Priest's Struggle with Faith and Love."

He writes he became disillusioned with "bishops too concerned with their own images" during child sex-abuse crises. The church often abandons priests accused of sexual crimes "to sink or swim," he said.

The 41-year-old says church leaders secretly accept homosexual and heterosexual relationships among priests but disapproved of his because it became public.

"There are so many homosexuals, both active and celibate, at all levels of clergy and Church hierarchy that the church would never be able to function if they were really to exclude all of them from ministry," Cutie writes.

The Archdiocese of Miami and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops declined comment Monday.

Cutie calls former Archbishop John Favalora "an aloof CEO" with a "cold and rigid approach" who was "disconnected" from the parish. He said the two rarely spoke during the scandal.

A phone listing for Favalora could not be found.

Cutie's once-popular cable television show and advice column might have fallen by the wayside since the scandal, but hundreds gathered at an Episcopalian ceremony in May marking his return to priesthood.

He said many Catholics "act as if I dropped dead, as if I don't exist."

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Information from: The Miami Herald, http://www.herald.com

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