Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston Bishop Mark Brennan Levies $790K Penalty, Asks for Apologies from Bransfield
WHEELING — Bishop Mark Brennan has outlined a nine-step process that would see former Bishop Michael Bransfield making amends for the damage Bransfield did while leading the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.
In total, Bransfield will be penalized $792,638 for financial mismanagement of the diocese.
Here are the steps Brennan outlined at a press conference Tuesday that Bransfield must adhere to:
1 — Apologies to the people the former bishop sexually harassed and for the severe emotional and spiritual harm his actions caused them.
2 — An apology for the grievous harm he caused to the faithful of the diocese and the reputation of the Catholic church in West Virginia.
3 — An apology to diocesan employees who suffered from a culture of intimidation and retribution that Bransfield created.
4 — Instead of a monthly retirement stipend equal to his status as bishop, Bransfield will receive a stipend that a priest serving 13 years would receive — $736 per month.
5 — Bransfield will have to pay for his own prescription drug plan.
6 — Bransfield will return his diocesan-owned car.
7 — Bransfield will not be buried within the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston upon his death.
8 — Bransfield will have to repay $441,492 in diocesan funds he used for his own personal expenses, along with an excise tax to the IRS of $110,000.
9 — Bransfield will have to repay the diocese $351,146 for his “luxurious lifestyle.”
“We believe that this total amount of $792,638 constitutes a fair and just amends to the diocese for what were clearly and solely personal expenses,” Brennan said.
“… I wish to make clear that it is not my intention to impoverish the former bishop. While not a dollar-for-dollar restitution for the former bishop’s excessive expenditures of diocesan funds, I believe that this amount reflects the spirit of Pope Francis’ requirements that bishop Bransfield make ‘amends for some of the harm he caused.'”
Bransfield retired last September. Since his departure, he has been the center of allegations of sexual harassment and financial mismanagement during his time as bishop. According to a report commissioned for the Vatican, Bransfield spent millions of dollars in diocesan funds on his personal travel, jewelry and his home.
He’s also accused of sexually harassing seminarians during his time leading the church in West Virginia.
Bransfield also allegedly diverted more than $20 million from Wheeling Hospital into the Bishops Fund — a fund he created to “establish his legacy.” The Bishops Fund board included the Rev. Kevin Quirk, the group’s secretary and then chairman of the boards of both Wheeling Hospital and Wheeling Jesuit University; Lawrence Bandi, the board’s treasurer and president of Central Catholic High School in Wheeling; Bryan Minor, the diocese’s human resources director and executive director of the West Virginia Catholic Foundation; and the Rev. Frederick Annie, one of Bransfield’s three monsignor deputies that also included Quirk.
Brennan’s amends requirement made no mention of the Wheeling Hospital funds.