BRICK - The Catholic priest at the center of a controversy over his church's finances has resigned, but maintains that he did not steal any funds.

Father Peter Miqueli, who lives in Brick, is being sued by parishioners at his Bronx congregation.

The lawsuit alleges that Miqueli has been stealing money from the collections of at St. Frances De Chantal in the Bronx since 2003. It states that the priest used the money for sexual trysts with his housemate Keith Crist.

In a letter to parishioners, Miqueli says while he is not guilty, he is stepping down because, "I feel that my continued presence here would be a distraction."

His statement continues, "I look forward to my ultimate vindication, and being able to resume my priestly ministry."

The Archdiocese of New York says it has investigated the parish finances and found no evidence of wrong doing.