'Padre Alberto' joins the Episcopal Church

May 28, 2009

The Rev. Alberto Cutié, a former Roman Catholic priest known internationally as "Padre Alberto" on Spanish-language radio and television, was received into the Episcopal Church May 28 during a ceremony held at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Miami.

"I thank God for the many people in our community who have shown me their love and support," Cutié, 40, said in a news release from the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida. "Your prayers have truly sustained me at this time of transition in my life. With God's help, I hope to continue priestly ministry and service in my new spiritual home."

Cutié was already well-known when photos of him and girlfriend Ruhama Buni Canellis kissing on a beach were published in early May by a Spanish-language magazine. Roman Catholic priests take a vow of celibacy. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami subsequently removed Cutié from St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church, where he was priest-in-charge.

Cutié served as general director and president of Pax Catholic Communications, a multimedia operation of the archdiocese. The Episcopal diocese said in its release that Cutié, after a two-year discernment process, decided to begin his ministry and the path to priesthood within the Episcopal Church.

"We welcome Father Alberto into the ministry of the Episcopal Church," said Bishop Leo Frade of the Diocese of Southeast Florida in a news release. "Our ministry has centered on spiritual growth, love, forgiveness, and a sense of community. Guided by a spirit of fellowship and understanding, the Episcopal Church remains a beacon of hope and faith for all."

The diocese has hired Cutié to work on a diocesan initiative to provide emergency responses to Episcopal churches in urgent need and on diocesan revitalization projects. Cutié will preach on Sunday, May 31, at Church of Resurrection, in Biscayne, Florida, the news release said.

In a statement posted May 28 on the archdiocese's website, Archbishop John C. Favalora said neither Cutié nor Frade had discussed Cutié's decision to join the Episcopal Church with the archdiocese. And he criticized the diocese's handling of the situation, calling it a setback in ecumenical relations.

"Bishop Frade has never spoken to me about his position on this delicate matter or what actions he was contemplating. I have only heard from him through the local media. This truly is a serious setback for ecumenical relations and cooperation between us," Favalora said.