West Virginia Bishop Paid Catholic Leaders as Warnings Against Him Went Unchecked: Report
WHEEL AND DEAL
Senior Catholic leaders received and ignored warnings for years that a West Virginia bishop was abusing his power and misspending church money on luxuries, The Washington Post reports. Bishop Michael J. Bransfield spent $2.4 million on travel, $4.6 million to renovate his church residence, and sexually harassed young priests, according to investigators. The bishop’s suspected behavior went unchecked by the church for over five years before he resigned in 2018 after one of his closest aides came forward with an account of his longterm sexual and financial misconduct, according to the report. The aide claimed that Bransfield sought to “purchase influence” by giving hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash gifts to senior Catholic leaders. According to church records, Bransfield gave at least four senior Catholic officials who reviewed complaints about him cash gifts. The gifts to fellow clergymen totaled $350,000, records show. The Vatican eventually ordered an investigation of Bransfield in June.