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Accused of adultery, Catholic leader resigns

A Roman Catholic monsignor named as "the other man" in a divorce case resigned Thursday as rector of St. Patrick's Cathedral, according to the New York archdiocese.
/ Source: staff and news service reports

A Roman Catholic monsignor named in court papers as "the other man" in a divorce case resigned Thursday as rector of St. Patrick's Cathedral, the New York archdiocese said.

Cardinal Edward Egan accepted Msgr. Eugene Clark's resignation from the key church position despite the 79-year-old Clark's denials that he has been carrying on an affair with his 46-year-old private secretary, the church said.

"He offered his resignation for the good of Saint Patrick's and the archdiocese," the statement said. "He will not be celebrating Mass or the sacraments publicly until this matter has been resolved."

Clark had been rector of St. Patrick's in midtown Manhattan since 2001 and had often celebrated Mass there when the cardinal was away. He was named in divorce papers filed last week in Family Court in White Plains by Philip DeFilippo, 46, who said that a private investigator taped his wife, Laura, and the monsignor entering and leaving a Long Island hotel last month. The videotape was shown Monday to New York City newspapers.

Clark married the DeFilippos, who have two children, 20 years ago when he was rector of a church in Yonkers, according to published reports, and Laura DeFilippo has worked for Clark for at least 25 years.

Philip DeFilippo said his wife had told him she and Clark spent the day sifting through books at a storage facility in a town 30 miles from the hotel shown in the videotape, The New York Times reported.

The New York Daily News said the videotape captured Clark and DeFilippo dining on a veranda, returning to their hotel and emerging more than five hours later, wearing different clothing than before.

Secretary frequently traveled with monsignor
Philip DeFilippo also said that Laura DeFilippo frequently skipped family vacations to travel with Clark. In response to her husband's suspicions, DeFilippo would respond, "What are you worried about, Philip? He's a priest. He's an elderly priest," Philip DeFilippo told the Times.

Laura DeFilippo's lawyer, Michael Berger, told the Times the allegations are "totally false and outrageous and completely without merit," and that they were made in an effort to coerce Laura DeFilippo into accepting her husband's stipulations in the divorce. A call to Clark's lawyer, Laura Brevetti, was not immediately returned.

Beger and Brevetti previously denied that the monsignor and his secretary had a sexual relationship, accusing Philip DeFilippo of distorting an innocent event.

According to the White Plains Journal News, DeFilippo received a temporary order of protection barring his wife from their home after alleging in court papers she had threatened him after he approached her concerning the videotape. Local police confirmed they were investigating a domestic complaint filed Monday by Philip DeFilippo and his teenage daughter.

Controversial remarks during church sex-abuse scandal
A strong proponent of traditional morality, Clark blamed the church's sex-abuse scandal in 2002 on "the campaign of liberal America against celibacy."  The staunch conservative suggested in a homily that homosexuality was a disorder caused by the sinful images that are pervasive in American culture.

He also scapegoated seminaries, claiming they deserve blame for allowing homosexuals to enter the ministry, the Times said.

His homily was greeted with outrage from numerous Catholics and gay organizations, prompting the archdiocese to say that Clark was speaking only for himself.

Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said Wednesday that Clark was not asked to step down as rector because unlike priests who were accused of molesting boys, he was not accused of anything illegal and was denying the allegations.

Clark hosts a weekly program, "Relationships," on the Catholic television network, according to the White Plains Journal News. He established a committee to raise funds for Vatican museums and is on the board of advisers for a Catholic high school in New York State, where a scholarship is named after him, according to the Times.