June 17, 2009 / 2:02 PM / 10 years ago

Former Miami priest in celibacy scandal marries

MIAMI (Reuters) - A former Roman Catholic priest and media celebrity who left the Catholic Church last month after he was photographed cuddling a woman on a Florida beach has married his girlfriend, local media reported Wednesday.

Alberto Cutie, 40, who joined the Episcopal Church after the photos scandal stoked debate over the Catholic celibacy requirement for priests, married 35-year-old Ruhama Buni Canellis Tuesday in a civil ceremony, the Miami Herald reported.

The couple avoided photographers and news crews when they were married by a judge in Miami’s Coral Gables district.

Cutie, born in Puerto Rico of Cuban parents, was a charismatic preacher and religious celebrity well known locally as “Padre Alberto.” He became embroiled in a media frenzy last month after a Spanish-language entertainment magazine published photos of him in swim trunks, cuddling and kissing a woman on the sands of a beach in Florida.

He previously dispensed relationship advice on Spanish-language television shows, church radio programs and newspaper columns.

His superiors in the Roman Catholic Church relieved him of his duties at St. Francis de Sales parish in Miami Beach over the scandal, and soon afterward he announced he was entering the Episcopal Church, which allows married priests.

Cutie said he had fallen in love with Canellis and broken his vow of celibacy.

He is expected to become a priest in the Episcopal Church, part of the Anglican Communion that traces its roots to the Church of England, formed when King Henry VIII split from the Roman Catholic Church in order to divorce and remarry.

The Episcopal Church ordains men and women as priests, married or single, but has seen controversy within its own ranks for ordaining gay priests.

Reporting by Pascal Fletcher; Editing by Will Dunham

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