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Well known South Florida priest Father Alberto Cutie, 40, is under fire after a Spanish-language tabloid magazine released controversial photos of him with a woman. The pictures were published by TVnotas and show the priest fondling a female and engaging in other sexually compromising positions.

Rev. Alberto Cutie (pronounced koo-tee-AYE), who has his own Spanish language television show on the Telemundo network, hosts a radio show on Radio Pax and writes an advice column in the El Nuevo Herald has been removed from his media programs and has been stripped of his duties and forbidden from saying mass as a result of the scandal. He has been placed on leave and has reportedly been sent by Archbishop of Miami John C. Favalora to an undisclosed location to pray and reflect upon his fall from grace.

An 8-page spread will appear on Thursday in TVnotas. The two dozen photos, taken over a three day period, show the couple having a romantic interlude on the beach. The paparazzi have been shopping the photos around for the past six weeks, with an asking price of six figures for the salacious pics.

Cutie attracted great fame with his television debut in 1999 as the host of Padre Alberto, a daily talk show televised on the Telemundo. He published a self-help book Real Life, Real Love in January 2006. It was considered a bestseller in the Spanish language market.

The Reverend Favalora issued this statement: “I am deeply saddened by the news surrounding Father Alberto Cutie. Father Cutie made a promise of celibacy and all priests are expected to fulfill that promise. Father Cutie’s actions cannot be condoned despite the good works he has done as a priest.”

Father Cutie, who is no longer administrator of the St. Francis de Sales parish of Miami Beach, issued his own statement that read, “I ask the forgiveness of those who may be hurt or saddened by my actions. The commitment I made to serve God will remain intact. I am grateful for the love and support I have received from so many in the community.”

May 28, 2009 UPDATE: Father Alberto Cutie is joining the Episcopal Church to be with the woman he loves, he announced on Thursday. He said, “I will always love the Catholic church and all of its members, but I want to start today by going into a new family. Here before this community where I have chosen to serve and where I live, I am going to continue to proclaim the word of God and my love for God.” See video announcement below.

More photos and video below, including the controversial tabloid pics.