(RNS) A priest who headed a leading treatment center for clergy with sexual and addiction problems has agreed to plead guilty to charges of stealing money from his home diocese in New Hampshire and from a Catholic hospital and the estate of a deceased priest.  

Msgr. Edward J. Arsenault, president and CEO of St. Luke Institute, resigned in the wake of an investigation into an alleged inappropriate adult relationship and the uncovering of possible illegal financial dealings in the Diocese of Manchester, N.H. Msgr.  Arsenault is pictured in a 2008 photo. Catholic News Service photo/courtesy of Father Edward Arsenault

Monsignor Edward J. Arsenault, president and CEO of St. Luke Institute, resigned in the wake of an investigation into an alleged inappropriate adult relationship and the uncovering of possible illegal financial dealings in the Diocese of Manchester, N.H.  Arsenault is pictured in a 2008 photo. Catholic News Service photo/courtesy of the Rev. Edward Arsenault


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Monsignor Edward J. Arsenault, who resigned as head of the St. Luke Institute outside Washington, D.C., when the charges were revealed last year, will spend at least four years in a New Hampshire prison under a plea deal with prosecutors announced on Monday (Feb. 3).

For a decade, Arsenault held a number of senior positions in the Diocese of Manchester and was a top aide to former Bishop John McCormack, who came under intense criticism for his role in the clergy sexual abuse scandals.

In 2009, Arsenault took a $170,000-a-year position as CEO of St. Luke’s, a rehab center in Silver Spring, Md., that became known for treating priests who had sexually abused children. The center deals primarily with priests, nuns and brothers who have a range of other issues, such as depression, anxiety and addictive behaviors. St. Luke’s conducted an internal investigation and found no evidence of fraud while Arsenault was there.

During his time in New Hampshire and for years afterward, prosecutors say, Arsenault was siphoning money from the diocese and through a consulting contract he had with Catholic Medical Center, a leading hospital in the state. Authorities say Arsenault was also stealing from the estate of Monsignor John Molan, a Manchester priest who died in 2010.

Prosecutors did not say how much money Arsenault stole, only that it was in excess of $1,500 from each source, the threshold for a felony charge. More details will be revealed when the priest formally pleads guilty in an April 23 appearance before a judge. Prosecutors said Arsenault cooperated with the investigation.

In an open letter published Tuesday by the Concord Monitor, Arsenault apologized to his bishops, his fellow priests and to New Hampshire Catholics for his failings. “I broke the law and violated the trust of others,” he wrote. “I am prepared to accept the consequences for having done so, to make restitution and to face the penalty for having committed these crimes.”

The diocese and the hospital referred questions about the case to the district attorney because the case is still ongoing.

The Manchester diocese said last May that the investigation began in early 2013 when church officials received a report that Arsenault was involved in a “potentially inappropriate adult relationship.” The diocese’s brief statement this week made no mention of that accusation or whether the current bishop, Peter Libasci, would move to defrock Arsenault.

KRE/MG END GIBSON

13 Comments

  1. Doctors have been known to take money which is not theirs. Medicine is poison!
    Lawyers have been known to take money which is not theirs. The law is poison!
    Teachers have been known to take money which isn’t theirs. Education is poison!
    Doesn’t it all sound slightly ridiculous?

    • G Beaubouef, Only when you add the correlation between the two, which if you would more closely read my comment, I didn’t. My choice of closing which is to say that religion is poison stands alone without relating to anything else.

      Religion is poison!!

      • Religeous hospitals, clinics, shelters, food pantries, soup kitchens, food deliveries, clothing stores, pharmacy assistance, prison ministries, immigration centers, refugee aid, career transition centers, financial counseling, education, educational aid and scholarships, international food relief, disaster relief, basic research universities, housing support, rent assistance, utility assistance, national and international adoption programs, orphanages, professional associations, veterans associations….. – your “poison” is curative and will so remain.

        • Not so curative when they chose to give prosletyzing priority over giving aid to people. Its amazing what strings are attached to religious based charities these days.

        • C. Meagher, None of these “curatives” you name, couldn’t be done without religion. However, you can’t name a single one that can only be done with religion, but if I’m wrong, please name it, or be honest enough to admit it.
          Also, please explain to those humans that still survive the passing of their loved ones in 3rd world countries that are savaged by aids where religion teaches them that the use of condoms are a sin, and it is better to forfeit your life, than your soul.
          Please tell the adults who have had their lives ruined by religious representatives who raped and molested them, while the leaders of a religious organization turned their backs, or worse acted in a way that perpetuated it.

          Religion is poison!!

          • Asserting that “religion is poison” is the same as arguing that “nutrition is poison” because humans consume unhealthy or even toxic levels of alchhol or fat or encourage others to do so. Your arguement doesn’t hold up. It would be best for someone to fraternally take the time to go over with you the essential truth that humans are flawed and require a formation in spirit to unify with their creator which is provided by religious belief. A healthy formation is manifest in good works. Dismissing the empirical evidence that the impetus of religion overwhelmingly fosters far more positive results than negative is, to be kind, naive. Making broad unsubstantiated statements that these corporal works can some spring from some indeterminate secular impulse, particularly on the scale as they exist, is likewise. Further still, because some of these flawed humans failed to adhere to or even violated their professed beliefs, with resulting horrendous consequences, does not invalidate the belief. It doesn’t exonerate their behavior but it doesn’t obviate the foundation of belief. But I anticipate there is little that can be said to alter your opinion.

          • C. Meagher, My statement, not argument that religion is poison in analogous to water is wet. Your straw man argument is all wet (pun intended) and once again you resorted to dishonest tactics, well-practiced by believers.

            To paraphrase a debate I saw once involving Sam Harris, imagine if you will that one day a friend of yours tells you he truly believes that his neighbor, who he has much respect for, says a few words over his breakfast of waffles and coffee each morning and it literally transforms into the flesh and blood of Elvis, which he eats and drinks. No sane human would look at this man and think he has a healthy mind. No, they would say he has lost it.

            However when a catholic priest says some things over crackers and wine the followers believe they have literally been transformed into the flesh, and blood of jesus christ, which they then eat and drink.

            Other than mental illness, religion is the only thing that can poison the mind into accepting fantastical beliefs, as it is justified by blind faith. Called blind because honest rationalization must not be seen to be able to believe it.

            Also, you didn’t come up with even one good thing (not superfantastical crap) that religion has done, or is doing that could not be done without it. That’s ok; I didn’t expect it, as I didn’t expect that you would admit it.

            By the way, if you really are a true believer, the just ask your god who answers your prayers to change my beliefs. While you’re at it please ask him to stop priests raping children, throw in a little world peace, and the regrowth of all human amputated limbs. You and I both know this is not possible, right?

            I truly do hope that your opinion can be altered; that is the purpose of my comments. However, I can only stir the mind, which sometimes means pissing people off, but it is only to try and get them to question, to seek out reality themselves. If not, they choose to be a slave (or more appropriately a lamb) to a belief that is not real, and one that poisons society in so many ways.

            Please, read your bible, all of your bible, but read it without faith, without the blinders of belief, if you can, and if you dare. Don’t skip a single word. Read it with the morals you know are the right, in the back of your mind. Then, if you can, without faith, still believe that this is a god you want to bow down to and be with for all eternity, all I can say is, you may want it, but it won’t happen, but the delusion will probably make you feel better. Like religion, opium is poison too.

            Religion is poison!!
            Yeah, once free, you will never want to go back.

    • It’s true that doctors, lawyers, teachers, and people of all professions break the law sometimes. But let’s be honest, clergy are treated differently when this happens. Namely, a lot of the time, while miscreants in other professions lose their jobs and sometimes their professional licenses, this frequently doesn’t happen with clergy. They usually remain clergy, despite their transgression.

      For instance, Fr Kevin Gray stole close to $1.5 million over a period of many years from his parish. Yet, after a conviction and a prison sentence, he remains a priest, and is still in the archdiocese’s employ. This is a man who stole from his own Church … yet that same Church can’t or won’t summon the wherewithal to put the guy out.

      Outside the Catholic Church, other clergy who break the law retain their status. Jim Bakker, for example, remains a credentialed pastor, and has returned to the active ministry after his fraud conviction in the late ’80s. So this is certainly not only a Catholic problem.

      Think about it: How often have you ever heard of any priest, minister, nun, whatever having had his/her credentials revoked over their misdeeds? Be honest: It just doesn’t happen very much. Yes, sometimes a priest is laicized, or a pastor leaves the ministry for good. But more often, they’re “forgiven” because, supposedly, that’s the “Christian” thing to do … and they’re welcomed back with open arms, as though nothing ever happened. And the decision to end their careers, or not, is left up to them, not to the church or other organization they worked for.

      I suggest that it’s possible to forgive, yet not allow someone to retain their clerical status. But it seems a lot of churches just don’t realize that. They can’t or won’t hold their own clergy accountable for their actions.

      And that is the difference.

      • CMeager, your sensible comments received a inelegant response but what else would you possibly expect from someone proselytizing dogmatic atheism on a religious news service site! Oy Vey. Embrace this folk truism in the unlikely event you contemplate sharing such thoughtfulness ever again:
        “Never try to teach a pig to sing – it’s incredibly frustrating and annoys the hell out of the pig”

  2. I have been following this story, and most of it makes no sense to me, but I came across one development that made me shudder. Anyone who has followed the story of Monsignor Arsenault needs to review his behavior in this chilling account:
    http://thesestonewalls.com/gordon-macrae/the-prison-of-father-macrae-a-conspiracy-of-silence/

    • johnnycuredents

      Oh, no, not the McCrae nonsense again!?!?! Look, there is plenty of evidence that McCrae is a 1st class pervert. The fact that Arsenault himself is a pervert and thief IN NO WAY exonerates McCrae. The only problem I see is that there are still gullible people like you defending the first named pervert here. Get a life.

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