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Bishop Bransfield’s life of luxury

Bransfield spent nearly one million dollars on private jets and over $660,000 on airfare and hotels during his 13 years as bishop of his former diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

In this 2017 file photo, Bishop Michael J. Bransfield, then head of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, W.Va., is seen at Wheeling Hospital. (CNS photo/Colleen Rowan, The Catholic Spirit)

Wheeling, W.V., Sep 13, 2019 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- New details have emerged about the lavish lifestyle enjoyed by disgraced Bishop Michael Bransfield. Bransfield spent nearly one million dollars on private jets and over $660,000 on airfare and hotels during his 13 years as bishop of his former diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

A new investigation by the Washington Post, published Sept. 12, reported that during his last year in active ministry, Bransfield took at least 19 trips in what was described as a chartered luxury jet. Those trips cost the diocese more than $142,000.

In accord with canon law, Bransfield submitted his resignation as bishop of Wheeling-Charleston was to Pope Francis last September following his 75th birthday. It was accepted immediately.

Following his resignation, Pope Francis ordered Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore to conduct an investigation into allegations that Bransfield had sexually harassed adult males and misused diocesan finances during his time in West Viginia.

Following that investigation, Lori banned Bransfield from public ministry within the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and Archdiocese of Baltimore in March, and the Vatican announced a series of sanctions in July.

In addition to restrictions on publicly celebrating Mass within the diocese, Bransfield was also prohibited from living in his former diocese ordered to “make personal amends for some of the harm he caused.” These “personal amends” are to be determined by Bransfield’s successor, Bishop Mark Brennan, who took office on September 3, 2019.

Other examples of financially irresponsible conduct highlighted by the report included a diocesean pilgrimage to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC,  which is just under a five-hour drive from St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Wheeling. Pilgrims who opted to spend the night in DC paid $190 each for bus, hotel, and breakfast, while others paid $30 for a day-trip ticket.

Bransfield did not take the bus with the other pilgrims. Instead, he chartered a private plane for the 33-minute trip between Wheeling and Dulles International Airport, taking a limousine to and from the airport. Bransfield’s travel costs of nearly $7,000 were paid by the diocese.

The Post also found that Bransfield had a pattern of travelling first-class when flying on commercial airlines and stays in luxury hotel suites – including a weeklong stay in The Colony Hotel’s “Presidential Penthouse” in January 2018 that cost the diocese $9,336.

Bishop Bransfield told the Post that he was not the one who made the reservations at luxury hotels, and instead placed the blame on his staff. He declined to say who was responsible for making reservations.

On trips to Europe, both for work and personal vacation, Bransfield stayed in luxury accommodation, and often travelling with young priests in their 20s. Bransfield was accused of sexual harassment by at least one of his travel companions.

Some of the bishop’s travel was connected to his work with the Papal Foundation, the board of which he led until his retirement last year.

Bransfield also spent thousands of dollars on jewelry and other clothing, including spending more than $60,000 of diocesean money at a boutique jeweler in Washington, DC during his time in office.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Bransfield said that West Virginia was unable to provide “the lifestyle [he] lived in Washington.”

The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston met the costs for Bransfield’s travels to visit his family, and much of his month-long stays on the Jersey Shore. The diocese paid for a $276 purchase at a liquor store, as well as a month-long car rental for $2,975.

He also chartered a jet to and from the Jersey Shore to Washington, DC, for a meeting following the announcement that he was being investigated for financial improprieties.

During Bransfield’s time as bishop, the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston either shut down or ceased funding more than 20 parishes and parochial schools.

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  1. “Bishop” Bransfield is no outlier but a mainstream example of a homosexual, modernist, Vatican II bishop. If you think he is bad, imagine what a similar investigation would produce on McCarrick, Wuerl, Gregory, Dolan, Tobin, Cupich, to pick only a few of the more prominent. The whole pack is rotten since they are all “bishops of the Council” whose “fruits” they truly are. I’ve lived through this for 70 years and speak from direct, personal experience with them.

  2. And what about Msgr. Rossi??? And what about Archbishop Gregory? What is he doing about Msgr. Rossi?? Has anything changed in the church of Washington, D.C.? More of the same it looks like. I do hope and pray that those who have the skills, talent and courage, will rise up and help the church and help clean up the mess. It’s a disgrace that Our Lady’s Shrine has been so sullied. Enough already!

  3. Judging from the article, there is little to admire about Bishop Bransfield’s actions. But, according to the pentultimate paragraph, he certainly displays a lot of chutzpah.

  4. The Homosexuals living the Rich Lifestyle on the backs of the diocese common folk and then closing parishes to make up the shortfall. Like a tick sucking the lifeblood of the diocese and giving the host a longer term disease to battle. McCarrick, Tobin, Rossi, Wuerl, coccopalmerio and their ilk around the Catholic World are disease carrying parasites engorging themselves on the body of Christ.

  5. People keep on slandering both Cardinal Wuerl and Msgr Rossi without any evidence, seems like a witchhunt on the part of some bitter Catholics on here

    • To the contrary, there is superabundant publicly available evidence of moral and criminal evildoing by both Wuerl and Rossi. Perhaps you should become acquainted with Google search.

    • Apparently there is sufficient evidence for the Archdiocese of Washington and the Diocese of Scranton to have undertaken an investigation of Rossi. Given the corruption running rampant in Rome it is doubtful Wuerl will be graced with the same scrutiny but at least he did get the boot — gentle as it was. Probably about the greatest mortification he could endure without mental collapse.
      Wake up.
      No one here is bitter. Every conscientious Roman Catholic adult is appalled at the abysmal behavior of men and women of the clergy class and religious who have betrayed Jesus Christ and His faithful.
      Denial and self-deception are no substitute for Christian accountability which is at the foundation of depth spiritual freedom found in Christ.

  6. This is one of those events where you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. It sparks images of a teenager gone rogue while mom and dad are otherwise occupied.
    And he blames the staff.
    Entirely symptomatic of the lack of accountability the episcopate, the clergy class and many religious “enjoy” to their eternal jeopardy. They play loose with money, morals and most grievously the perennial Magisterium of the Church. Given responsibility for the inestimable treasure provided humankind by Jesus Christ they regard themselves mystics and scholars competent to revise, reinterpret and “re-vision” in conformity to their own concupiscence. To magnify the ludicrous nature of this catastrophe remember well most of these actors went through psychological screening upon application to the seminary.
    The theological abuse we endure at the hands of moral and spiritual morons for the last sixty years is appalling. They have gotten away with murder and I’m afraid they will continue to do so for sometime more. The acrobats we observe in the present attempt to clean up the house do not rise above a bunch of window dressers in pinch.

    • Are you sure this outrageous behavior just started 60 years ago? I’m sure it started centuries before that. We do have historical documents. Priests should all live poor like Jesus. Money corrupts.

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