by Susan Matthews
The IHM nuns who taught me doled out tougher punishments for uniform violations than the sanctions Pope Francis just placed on Bishop Michael J. Bransfield.
According to Vatican news released today, the pope’s sanctions on the former bishop are in response to findings from a preliminary investigation into allegations of Bransfield’s sexual harassment of adults and financial improprieties. Archbishop William E. Lori of the Baltimore Archdiocese headed the internal investigation.
You might remember that Bransfield allegedly gave lavish financial “gifts” to successfully buy the silence of fellow bishops. So who would be better than a fellow bishop to conduct the internal investigation? Totally makes sense.
What were the findings? Those details didn’t make it into the “communique.” Windex, please. There’s still no transparency to laity. But the Vatican did share the details of these not-so scathing sanctions.
The former bishop is no longer allowed to live in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, WV. He is prohibited from presiding or participating anywhere in any public celebration of Mass. And, the following is quoted from the letter issued today by the Apostolic Nunciature and posted on the WV Diocese’s website.
He has an obligation to make personal amends for some of the harm he caused; the nature and extent of the amends to be decided in consultation with the future bishop of the diocese.
In taking these concrete actions, the Holy See expresses its sincere concern for the clergy, religious and laity of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.”
The defrauded parishioners who donated to Sunday collections in West Virginia have zero chance of getting their money back. His adult victims can cool their heels, too. I’m not feeling the Holy See’s concern. Are you?
These “concrete actions” are more like blowing smoke. As we know from other removed priests, including those in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Bransfield can still score swanky digs, hang out on altars and collect his sizable pension. How long does it take to recover from a slap on the wrist. Seconds?
When my daughter was a toddler, she served longer sentences on a cute Time-Out Teddy chair. Seems Pope Francis found an adult-sized version for Bransfield. But the pope isn’t raising a fairly well-behaved child. Reforming immoral clergy will require meaningful consequences.
No one should forget the facts. Read previous blog posts on Bransfield and his co-conspirators: