Supporters Rally for Scandalized Priest

Parishoners stand behind Cutie, clash with heckler

Dozens of supporters turned out today to support embattled priest Alberto Cutie, but things got violent when a supporter clashed with a Cutie detractor outside the priest's Miami Beach church.

The protest had been mostly peaceful for the scandalized priest, who was removed Tuesday from his church, St. Francis de Sales, after a magazine printed photos of the holy man canoodling on the beach with a woman.

According to the Miami Herald, over 60 supporters rallied for Cutie, waving signs and chanting "I admire, I respect, I pardon Father Alberto!" among other chants.

But the rally turned ugly when 69-year-old Jose Soler stopped to voice his opinion of Cutie, saying the popular priest had "hurt God."

"If you knew what you were doing, how can you feel hurt," he said, according to the Herald. "I can't conceive how a man of his stature can create such a scandal."

That's when 81-year-old Felix Claro shoved Soler to the ground and Cutie supporters surrounded him.

Police broke up the tussle and removed Soler, who cut his finger.

Cutie, 40, is a popular religious figure in Miami who has hosted TV and radio shows, writes a newspaper column and has written a best selling book and has been called "Father Oprah" for his media savvy. 

Though he's taken a vow of celibacy as a Catholic priest, many at the rally said the policy is outdated.  

"I think this is the precise moment for the church to recognize that priests are flesh and blood," Violeta Ascue told the Herald. "They should marry, too. I'm sure they'd still be exemplary people."

"He has the right to fall in love and start a family," said John Olan, 55. "They're treating him as a sinner."

For his part, Father Cutie hasn't said much but refused to name the woman he was pictured with in an interview with El Nuevo Herald.

"To protect that person, it's best not to speak about that. It has been enough already. It has been too much for me and for my family," he told the paper.

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