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New Orleans Archbishop condemns priest’s desecration of altar in ‘demonic’ sex act

New Orleans Archbishop condemns priest’s desecration of altar in ‘demonic’ sex act

Church of Sts Peter and Paul, Pearl River, Louisiana. | Church of Sts. Peter and Paul

The Archbishop of New Orleans has expressed anger over a Catholic priest’s alleged sex act with two women atop his church’s altar while filming it. The act was “demonic,” says the archbishop, who consecrated a new altar on Saturday.

“His desecration of the altar in church was demonic. I am infuriated by his actions,” Archbishop Gregory Aymond said in a video statement, referring to Fr. Travis Clark, the 37-year-old pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul in Pearl River who was later removed.

“When the details became clear, we had the altar removed and burned,” Aymond added.

Clark and the two women, identified as 41-year-old Mindy Dixon, and 23-year-old Melissa Cheng, were arrested on Sept. 30, according to Catholic News Agency, which said Dixon is a pornographic performer and “dominatrix.”

Dixon had announced on her social media that she was going to New Orleans to “defile a house of God” alongside another “dominatrix,” according to The New Orleans Advocate, which also reported that “the women were dressed in corsets and high-heeled boots.”

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“There were sex toys and stage lighting. And a mobile phone as well as a separate camera were mounted on tripods, recording it all,” added the report.

The accused have been charged with obscenity because the sex act was visible from a window. A complaint was filed after a witness videotaped the act from the window and reported it to the Pearl River police.

“His behavior was obscene. The desecration of this church and the altar is demonic … demonic,” Aymond said from the pulpit when he came to consecrate a new altar on Saturday. “There is no excuse for what took place here. It is sinful, and it is totally unacceptable. Travis has been unfaithful to his vocation, he has violated his commitment to celibacy and also he was using that which was holy to do demonic things.”

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Aymond urged the congregation not to paint the church or the priesthood with the same brush because of the actions of a few priests.

“This is a new altar. It is a gift from the Archdiocese of New Orleans to remind you how much we care for you and how sorry we are that you had to go through this very, very difficult time,” he told the congregants.

Clark was removed from public ministry on Oct. 1.

In his video message, the archbishop also referred to another priest, the Rev. Patrick Wattigny, the pastor at St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Slidell and the chaplain of Pope John Paul II High School in the same area, who was removed on the same day for sexually abusing a minor seven years ago, according to 4WWL.

Wattigny was also accused of sending a series of text messages to a student this year in violation of diocesan policies.

“They will never serve again in Catholic ministry,” the archbishop said.

Clark, who was ordained a priest in 2013, had recently been named the chaplain of the same high school where Wattigny served.

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