WHEELING, WV (WTRF)- A decision has been made on how former Wheeling-Charleston Bishop Michael J. Bransfield should fulfill Pope Francis’ requirement that the Bishop “make personal amends for some of the harm he caused” while serving in this Diocese.
- Bishop Bransfield has been told to make a public apology to the people of the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese for the scandal he created. Bishop Bransfield is urged as well to apologize privately to certain individuals who reported abuse and harassment.
The letter of apology can be read below.
2. Bishop Bransfield is required to repay the Diocese of WheelingCharleston the amount of $441,000 for unauthorized benefits received from diocesan resources. The Bishop has paid the Diocese that amount. These funds will be added to those already set aside by the sale of his former residence for assistance to victims of abuse. The Bishop has already complied with the Diocese’sdemand that he purchase, at fair market value, the diocesan vehicle he has been
using in retirement.
3. Bishop Bransfield will receive $2,250 per month as his retirement stipend, adjusted for inflation, the amount recommended by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for retired bishops. However, no other benefits, such as for a secretary or travel, will be provided
Current Wheeling-Charleston Bishop Mark E. Brennan says this is in accord with what discretion he has as the current diocesan Bishop, according to the same USCCB guidelines, to reduce or eliminate additional benefits for a predecessor who did not retire in good standing.
Bishop Bransfield’s stipend will be about one-third of the full package of $6,200 ordinarily given to a retired bishop. He will continue to be covered by the health insurance plan for priests of the
Wheeling-Charleston Diocese, which will pay his modest long-term care insurance premium.
This decision comes after input from Bishop Brennan, as the representative of the Catholic people of the Diocese, and with consideration of governing factors in both civil and canon law.
Bishop Brennan hopes that the people of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston will see in the decision of the Congregation for Bishops a fair and reasonable resolution of this unseemly matter.
I am immensely grateful to the faithful of the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese for their patience during the past year. This has been an ordeal for all of us. Now, I hope, we can move forward and not let the past distract us from the urgent work of faith that is so vital to the well-being of so many throughout this State who need the Church’s ministry. Faith in God can help us heal the wounds we have suffered and give us strength to move ahead with the true mission of the Church: to bring Jesus Christ to the people he came to save and to work his wondrous power of renewal in them. With my heartfelt affection and prayers for you, I amMost Reverend Mark E. Brennan- Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston
A Timeline of Events
- September 2018: Bishop Bransfield resigns amid allegations of sexual harassment of adults
- November 2018: Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston releases the names of 31 priests with credible accusations of abuse
- March 2019: Lawsuit filed against Bishop Bransfield alleging he sexually assaulted the plaintiff who was referred to as “J.E.” who was previously an altar server and secretary to the Bishop
- June 2019: Bishop’s residence put up for sale by the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston
- July 2019: Bransfield’s punishment handed down by the Pope
- August 2019: Bishop Mark E. Brennan installed to Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston
- October 2019: Second sexual harassment lawsuit filed against former Bishop Bransfield
- October 2019: Report alleges Bransfield used $21 million from Wheeling Hospital for a “Bishop’s Fund”
- November 2019: Bishop Brennan announces punishment for Bransfield: apologies to the adults he was found to have sexually harassed as well as to the faithful of the Diocese and members of the chancery staff who were subject to his behavior, receive reduced retirement payments and pay his own health and prescription costs, financial restitution of $792,638
- December 2019: 60-page document released detailing the investigation into Bransfield