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.
Read more at Catholic News Agency