BOSTON, Mass., Aug. 24, 2020 – Disgraced former bishop Rev. Michael Bransfield will pay only half the restitution his successor Bishop Mark Brennan approved last November, according to Brennan’s Aug. 20 letter, issued just days after Bransfield’s apology to Catholics of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, which sounded more like a confession that sins had been committed, just not by him.
“We cannot adequately describe the anguish we feel at the lack of accountability reflected in the Vatican’s recent order for restitution from Bransfield or the lack of remorse from the former bishop,” said Mary Pat Fox, Voice of the Faithful president. “Once more, the Church has failed to hold a bishop adequately accountable for his actions. Complete restitution, removal from the clerical state, and a life of prayer and penance should be the punishment for all bishops who have so grossly abused their authority.”
Restitution paid by Bransfield is to be used to support clergy abuse survivors, which makes the fact that the Vatican decreased the amount even more reprehensible.
Pope Francis accepted Bransfield’s resignation as bishop in September 2018. He had been accused of misusing millions of dollars of church money and of sexually abusing teenagers and covering up abuse by other priests dating back to when he was a priest in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and of sexually harassing seminarians as bishop.
His successor, Bishop Mark Brennan, had worked out a plan for Bransfield to pay about $800,000 in restitution to the diocese and for Bransfield’s stipend in retirement to be $736, but the Vatican Congregation of Bishops ordered him to pay only $441,000 in restitution and set his stipend at $2,250.
Forgiveness may be at the heart of faith, Fox said, but so is justice. “These offending bishops should assume a vow of poverty and be sent to a monastery to pray.”
Voice of the Faithful Statement, Aug. 24, 2020
Contact: Nick Ingala, firstname.lastname@example.org, 781-559-3360
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful’s® mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. VOTF’s goals are to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, to support priests of integrity, and to shape structural change within the Catholic Church. More information is at www.votf.org.