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Arsenault's fall: Is anyone surprised?

During the priest sex abuse scandal, Edward Arsenault was the face of the Diocese of Manchester. He was the one telling parishioners and the public that there was nothing to see here. When the coverup was exposed and the state had reached a settlement agreement with the Diocese, Arsenault was the one telling everyone that the Diocese was fully compliant with the terms, regardless of whether that was true.
In 2007, the Attorney General’s office found that the Diocese still was not placing accused priests on leave as required by the settlement. Arsenault said this in response: “The Report cites no instance where we have not complied with our diocesan policy, the Charter, and the Agreement.”

That was a lie, clearly contradicted by the report. Shown that the report documented instances of non-compliance, Arsenault said, “there might be a lack of full compliance in one instance” and added, “It’s not going to be perfect on any one day, but I do think it is substantially compliant.”

That was the kind of deception to which Arsenault subjected parishioners throughout the scandal. This week he said he would plead guilty to stealing thousands of dollars from the Diocese, Catholic Medical Center and the estate of Rev. Msgr. John E. Molan. The only surprise is that he admitted his guilt, though he let authorities investigate him for nearly a year first. We wonder what he used the money for.

If the court accepts the plea-bargain, Arsenault will spend four years in prison for his thievery. For his many moral transgressions against the Roman Catholic faithful of New Hampshire, he will never be held to account, at least not in this life.

Eric Church
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