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There's still room at the mike for Father Alberto Cutie

Many supporters of popular priest Alberto Cuties were sticking by him Wednesday, the day after most of Cutie2 his church duties -- including his job overseeing Miami's Catholic radio stations -- were suspended after the publication of photos of him nuzzling a young woman on a North Florida beach. But the future of Cutie's budding media career remained unclear.

He was removed as host of his weekly call-in show, which originates on the Catholic church's Radio Paz
(WACC, 830 AM) and is syndicated throughout the United States. But executives at WGEN-Caracol 8 didn't return calls from the Miami Herald about Cutie's TV program, Abre Tu Alma con Padre Alberto (Open your soul to Father Alberto). The show, which usually airs at 7 p.m. Friday, features interviews about spirituality with Latin American celebrities.

Industry observers said they didn't think the fuss over the pictures would necessarily wreck or even seriously damage Cutie's broadcasting career he wants to continue it.

"There was a time when you couldn't spit without hitting a disgraced TV evangelist," said Robert Thompson, head of the Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, noting the sexual and financial scandals that ruined religious broadcasters Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart and others.  "But as scandals for priests go, this one is pretty minor. If I were the head of the diocese who got the call in the middle of the night, I suspect after I hung up I'd be saying to myself, ‘Whew, this would have been worse."

Church officials say the beach-blanket kissing and cuddling shown in Cutie's pictures amounted to a breach of the vow of chastity that every Catholic priest must take. But Randall Bloomquist, a veteran talk-show executive who now writes TalkFronter.com, a widely read industry blog, says broadcasters who are caught practicing the opposite of what they preach can recover their audiences if their behavior wasn't too bad.

"We've got two recent models for that," Bloomquist said. "One is Rush Limbaugh and his drug addiction. Here's a guy who had made many, many comments that were critical of drug users . . . and then we find out that Rush has his own addiction to pain killers. The other is Bill Bennett, who wrote The Book of Virtues and was always talking about the importance of morality, and then we find out he's gambling away millions of dollars. It wasn't illegal, but it certainly was seen as a moral failing in many circles."

Limbaugh quickly confessed his addiction once it was made public, went through rehab and emerged more popular than ever, Bloomquist noted. "Bennett kind of went the opposite route, was pretty belligerent about saying it was his money and he could do what he wanted," Bloomquist said. "It may have diminished his public standing a little, but he's still got his radio show on hundreds of stations."


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God always pulls good from evil. And this is no exception. I am a loyal Catholic who reads the Bible. Read it and understand that
from the beginning all men have sinned because of our fallen nature. And God still loves us and forgives, witness David, Abraham, Paul and on and on. Let Father come to terms with God through His Holy Mother the Church. Let us all pray for a fallen world and our own souls.

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