Nov. 26, 2019
By Michelle Boorstein
West Virginia’s new bishop Tuesday called for his predecessor, Michael Bransfield, to pay the diocese $792,638, apologize to victims and to the diocese, and lose his place in the diocesan cemetery as part of a restitution package for alleged financial and sexual misconduct that some church experts say is a first for a bishop.
The announcement by Bishop Mark Brennan follows a statement in July by Pope Francis that Bransfield’s replacement should decide how the ousted leader “make personal amends.”
“I wish to make clear that it is not my intention to impoverish the former bishop,” wrote Brennan, saying the dollar figure isn’t exactly the amount of diocesan money Bransfield is accused of misspending or using for lavish personal expenses. “We regard the former bishop’s acceptance of this plan of amends as an act of restorative justice. It is also for his own spiritual good and his own healing as a man who professes to follow Christ. All proceeds from Bishop Bransfield’s repayment will be directed to a special fund to provide for the counseling, care and support of those who have suffered sexual abuse.”
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