Diocese reassigns Bransfield’s top lieutenants
WHEELING — Three high-ranking priests tied to former bishop Michael Bransfield have resigned from their managerial roles in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Archbishop William Lori announced Monday.
The Revs. Frederick Annie, Kevin Quirk and Anthony Cincinnati resigned from their administrative posts in the diocese and were assigned new duties elsewhere in West Virginia. All three were mentioned in the diocese’s preliminary investigative report of Bransfield’s conduct, the details of which were made public last week by The Washington Post.
That report recommended that the three, Bransfield’s closest aides, be removed from the diocese.
“By failing to take any action, the chancery monsignors enabled the predatory and harassing conduct of Bishop Bransfield, and allowed him to recklessly spend Diocesan funds for his own personal use,” the report states.
Bransfield, who served as bishop of the diocese for 13 years before retiring in September, has been accused of excessive spending of church funds, sexual harassment of adults within the church and using millions of dollars of church funds for personal gifts to other church officials, for personal travel and to renovate his church-owned residence.
Lori said that Annie resigned as vicar general of the diocese in September and has been assigned as assistant priest in residence at St. Mary Parish in Star City, just outside Morgantown.
Quirk resigned Monday as judicial vicar and rector of the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling.
He also resigned from his position on the boards of directors at Wheeling Jesuit University and Wheeling Hospital.
Now, Quirk will serve as a priest in residence at the Mater Dolorosa (Paden City) and St. Vincent De Paul (New Martinsville) parishes and Holy Rosary (Sistersville) and St. Joseph (Proctor) missions, where he will assist Administrator Rev. Brian J. Crenwelge in his pastoral duties. Per the report, both Quirk and Annie discussed concerns about Bransfield’s conduct with young men but did nothing to stop it.
In addition, Cincinnati resigned Monday as vicar for clergy and will continue serving as pastor of St. Francis De Sales Parish in Morgantown.
Lori also announced those who will fulfill the duties left by the priests who resigned. The Rev. James DeViese Jr., J.C.L., will serve as judicial vicar on an interim basis and oversee the Office of the Tribunal, while continuing in his role as pastor of St. Patrick (Weston) and St. Boniface (Camden) parishes and Good Shepherd Mission in Glenville.
The Rev. Joseph Peterson, pastor of St. Michael Parish in Wheeling, will serve as interim rector of St. Joseph Cathedral, and the Rev. Carlos Melocoton Jr. will serve as pastor of St. Michael.
The Rev. Dennis Schuelkens will serve as interim director of clergy personnel while continuing as pastor of St. Joseph the Worker and Sacred Heart Parishes in Weirton.
Lawrence Bandi, president of Central Catholic High School in Wheeling, will serve as the archbishop’s representative to Wheeling Hospital. The archbishop soon will appoint his representative to Wheeling Jesuit University.
“I am grateful to all of these individuals and to my brother priests for their hard work and dedicated service to the Church, especially in these challenging times,” Lori said.
All of the personnel changes are to take effect immediately, according to the diocese.