Priest resigns from clergy treatment center amid allegations

Baltimore, Md., May 9, 2013 / 12:01 am (CNA).- Amid allegations of financial indiscretion and an “inappropriate adult relationship,” Monsignor Edward J. Arsenault has resigned as head of a Maryland treatment center for Catholic priests and religious.

“This is very difficult news, and we are keeping this situation in prayer,” Sheila Harron, Ph.D., chief operation officer and interim CEO of the St. Luke Institute, said May 6.

“We are committed to continuing to move forward, to providing high quality care for priests and religious, and to supporting a culture of healthy ministry in the Church.”

The New Hampshire attorney general is investigating Msgr. Arsenault after the Diocese of Manchester discovered evidence of improper transactions of diocese funds. The diocese reported the discovery to authorities out of concern illegal acts may have been committed. The diocese discovered the evidence while reviewing a claim that he had an inappropriate relationship with  an adult.

The priest will refrain from all public ministry during the state and diocesan investigations.

Msgr. Arsenault chaired the board of the National Catholic Risk Retention Group formed to combat the sexual abuse of minors by clergy. In that position, he helped supervise the development of the VIRTUS program and the “Protecting God’s Children” safe environment program in use in dioceses across the U.S., an archived webpage of his biography at the St. Luke Institute’s website says.

In October 2009, he became president and CEO of St. Luke Institute in Silver Spring, Maryland. It treats Catholic priests and religious with emotional health problems, addictions, and sexual issues.

St. Luke’s Institute said the allegations against Msgr. Arsenault do not involve the institute.

Bishop Peter A. Libasci pledged the Diocese of Manchester’s full cooperation with the state’s investigation.

He said he is committed to reviewing the diocese’s operations to see if there are any issues that need correction. The bishop also asked for prayers for all those involved.

Msgr. Arsenault held senior positions in the Diocese of Manchester from January 1999 to February 2009. He served as chancellor and moderator of the curia for the diocese and worked in parish and diocesan administration. He reviewed allegations of clergy sex abuse in the Diocese of Manchester in 2002.

He also chaired the board of governors of the Catholic Medical Center Healthcare System in New Hampshire.

Msgr. Stephen J. Rosetti, Ph.D., a priest and clinical psychologist who served as the president of the St. Luke Institute from 1996-2009, will serve as the institute’s interim president. Dr. Harron, the interim CEO, has served on the institute’s staff for 18 years as a psychologist, director of outpatient services and as chief operating officer.

The St. Luke Institute has hired an outside firm to conduct a forensic audit of the organization to ensure there are no irregularities, the Manchester Union Leader reports.

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