Reveal details about Bransfield
Roman Catholics in West Virginia may well be wondering whether there was any end to Michael Bransfield’s perfidy — and that clearly is the right word — while he was in power as bishop of their diocese.
Revelations about Bransfield’s misdeeds continue to spill out. The most recent details how he set up a slush fund using money siphoned away from Wheeling Hospital, which is owned by the diocese.
In 2014, Bransfield latched onto a self-insurance entity created by the hospital, according to an investigation by the church. He managed to have money — $21 million — transferred from that entity to what he called the “Bishop’s Fund.” Officially, the fund was for charitable causes, but Bransfield used it for his own personal purposes, too.
About $321,000 was used outside the diocese. Some of it went to officials in the church. Records indicate Bransfield provided nearly 600 gifts to fellow members of the clergy, including other bishops and at least one cardinal. Some of the money for those gifts came from the Bishop’s Fund. Some appears to have come from other sources within the church.
Members of the hospital’s board of directors have said they were not aware of Bransfield’s transfers of money into his fund.
Bransfield’s misdeeds are too numerous to catalogue here. Given the lengthy series of revelations about him, it may be that more remains to be revealed.
As we have pointed out previously the question in the minds of many Catholics and others of faith, whatever their denomination, is how Bransfield managed to get away with his misbehavior for so long.
Specifically, what effect did all those gifts to other church officials, right up to the Vatican, have on Bransfield’s career as the Teflon bishop?
Some of what church investigators have uncovered about Bransfield may involve him in matters being investigated by the federal government. At some point, it is entirely possible that secrets the church continues to keep about him may come out in court. It would be better for the church to reveal all that is known about the former bishop, including recipients of lavish gifts paid for by West Virginia Catholics and Wheeling Hospital, than to wait until a judge orders that such details be made public.