Priest switches from Catholic to Episcopal

May 29, 2009 at 11:57 AM

MIAMI, May 29 (UPI) -- A celebrity priest who was photographed nuzzling a woman on a Florida beach has officially left the Roman Catholic Church.

The Rev. Alberto Cutie was welcomed into the Episcopal fold during a small private ceremony at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Miami Thursday afternoon, The Miami Herald reports.

Attending the ceremony was Cutie's girlfriend, Ruhama Buni Canellis, 25, a divorced mother the priest can marry under Episcopal rules.

It was the first public sighting of the couple since compromising photographs of them appeared in a Mexican magazine earlier this month.

"I am continuing the call to spread God's love," Cutie said after the ceremony, adding that he has gone through a "deep spiritual and ideological struggle."

At a news conference later in the day, officials of the Archdiocese of Miami expressed disappointment.

"This truly is a serious setback for ecumenical relations and cooperation between us," Archbishop John C. Favalora said.

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