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Detailed report shows financial, sexual misconduct by retired West Virginia bishop

June 06, 2019

In a detailed report to the faithful of the Diocese of Charleston-Wheeling, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore has revealed that an investigation into the leadership of Bishop Michael Bransfield uncovered some clear evidence of sexual impropriety, along with a pattern of lavish spending for the bishop’s personal benefit.

Bishop Bransfield offered his retirement last September, upon reaching his 75th birthday. The Vatican quickly accepted his resignation, and appointed Archbishop Lori to lead an investigation into charges of corruption.

That investigation found a pattern of unchecked spending by Bishop Bransfield, including enormous outlays for travel ($2.4 million) and renovations on the bishop’s residence ($4.6 million). Archbishop Lori’s report included regular spending items such as about $1,000 monthly for alcohol served in the bishop’s residence and $100 daily for flowers delivered to the chancery.

Bishop Bransfield also used his considerable fundraising prowess to lavish cash gifts on other prelates. His gifts to the apostolic nuncios serving in Washington totaled $38,000.

The investigation did not find conclusive evidence that Bishop Bransfield had been guilty of sexual abuse of minors, but did report “a consistent pattern of sexual innuendo, and overt suggestions and actions toward those over whom the former bishop exercised authority.”

The report follows an announcement by Archbishop Lori in March that Bishop Bransfield “is not authorized to exercise any priestly or episcopal ministry” in the West Virginia diocese. Archbishop Lori has been acting as apostolic administrator of the diocese, pending the appointment of a new bishop.


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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: SPM - Jun. 07, 2019 7:39 PM ET USA

    A number of priests did submit a complaint and documentation to Archbishop Lori in the Spring of 2018. This was actually before the McCarrick scandal officially broke.

  • Posted by: Frodo1945 - Jun. 06, 2019 9:29 PM ET USA

    Hahaha. Archbishop Lori deleted a reference to himself receiving cash from Bransfield in the report he sent to Rome. I wonder why? BIG conflict of interest and the best evidence possible why the bishops cannot investigate each other. These guys passed around the people’s money to each other to live the high life. The corruption just keeps unraveling. So much for transparency because we heard it first from the WaPo.

  • Posted by: filioque - Jun. 06, 2019 6:40 PM ET USA

    Archbishop Lori was the Metropolitan Archbishop. Did no one think to complain to him? All superior clerics are going to have to be much more proactive in making it clear to all that complaints will be received with discretion and pursued seriously, with protection against retaliation. That will be a deterrent to bad behavior or at least encourage witnesses to report. And the Diocese needs to file a complaint against the external auditors who did nothing.