Pope Francis has dismissed a New Hampshire priest from the clerical state, after the priest was convicted of stealing some $300,000 from the local diocese, a hospital and a deceased priest’s estate.
“On February 28, 2017, Pope Francis decreed Edward J. Arsenault dismissed from the clerical state, and dispensed him from all obligations subsequent to sacred ordination, including that of celibacy,” the Diocese of Manchester said in a statement last week.
“By virtue of this decree, Edward J. Arsenault has no faculties to act, function, or present himself as a priest.”
In 2014, Arsenault was sentenced to four years in prison. He was ordered to repay $300,000 in restitution, according to local media reports.
Arsenault was convicted of writing checks from the dead priest’s estate to himself and of billing a hospital for consulting work he never did, according to the Associated Press.
He admitted to spending the money on travel and expensive restaurants for himself and a male partner. He pleaded guilty to three charges of theft in 2014.
Last week, Arsenault was moved to house arrest. He is up for parole in February next year, the Associated Press reported.
As a priest, Arsenault had previously worked for the Manchester diocese. He helped to handle a clergy sex abuse scandal in the state and to implement new child protection policies.