June 8, 2019
Catholic News Service
June 8, 2019
By Rhina Guidos
After a major newspaper published a story about alleged financial and sexual misconduct by a West Virginia bishop, a prelate overseeing the investigation for the Vatican expressed regret that he redacted his name out of documents detailing financial aspects of the scandal.
In an 8-minute video released June 7, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, who was tasked with overseeing the investigation in West Virginia, said mistakes were made and one of them was redacting his name, along with the names of other bishops and high-ranking church officials who received personal financial “gifts” from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston’s former bishop, Bishop Michael J. Bransfield.
Lori, who was appointed apostolic administrator of the West Virginia diocese after Bransfield resigned last fall amid allegations of sexual and financial misconduct, said in the video that transparency requires admitting mistakes.
“If I had to do it over again, especially at a time when we’re trying to create greater transparency and accountability, the report would have included the names of those bishops who received gifts, including my own, with some notation that there was no evidence to suggest that those who received gifts reciprocated in any way that was inappropriate.”
The preliminary investigation, he said, found that allegations of sexual misconduct by Bransfield toward adults were found to be “credible,” and it also determined that “during his tenure, he engaged in patterns of excessive and inappropriate spending, misused church funds for personal benefit,” that included travel, liquor, dining, financial gifts and luxury goods.
“There is no excuse nor adequate explanation that will satisfy the troubling question of how Bishop Bransfield’s behavior was allowed to continue for as long as it did without the accountability that we must require from those who have been entrusted with so much, both spiritual and material, as pastors,” Lori said.