Bishop Michael J. Bransfield

Summary of Case: Bransfield began his career as a priest of the Philadelphia archdiocese. He was a parish priest, then a teacher, chaplain and vice-principal of an archdiocesan high school. Bransfield left Philadelphia when appointed director of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC, becoming its rector when the National Shrine was made a basilica. In 2005 Bransfield was elevated to bishop of the Wheeling-Charleston diocese. In a 2012 trial of other Philadelphia clergy, Bransfield was accused of having sexually abused teen boys in the late 1970s or early 1980s. Another of the trial's witnesses stated that when he was a minor Bransfield spoke to him in a lewd way. A prosecutor at the trial said Bransfield was accused in a separate case of fondling a student. In July 2012 the Philadelphia archdiocese stated it learned of an allegation in 2007 that Bransfield fondled a high school student in the 1970s. Prosecutors did not pursue the case in 2007, but decided to reopen it in July 2012. Bransfield denied the allegations. Resigned September 13, 2018 after Pope Francis ordered an investigation into allegations that Bransfield sexually harassed adults.

: 1971


Start Stop Parish/Assignment Town/Accusations State Position Notes


Philadelphia archbishop was John Joseph Krol (1961-1988)

1973 St. Albert the Great Huntingdon Valley PA 2/3 St. Albert's had a school with 454-445 boys and 445-402 girls.
1973 1979 St. Stanislaus Lansdale PA

6/6, 5/5

In residence.

St. Stanislaus had a school with 799-718 students.
1973 1979 Lansdale Catholic High School


In July 2012 a Philadelphia archdiocesan spokesman said the archdiocese learned in 2007 that Bransfield was accused of fondling a Lansdale Catholic High student in the 1970s. The spokesman said it forwarded the information to Montgomery County prosecutors at the time. Bransfield denied the allegation.

PA teacher; chaplain; chairman of religion dept.; vice-principal Lansdale Catholic High had 249-371 boys and 336-417 girls.


Washington DC archbishop was William Wakefield Baum (1973-1980), followed by James Aloysius Hickey (1980-2000). Hickey was succeeded by Theodore Edgar McCarrick (2000-2006).

1990 On Duty Outside the Diocese/National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception


During testimony in the 2012 trial of Philadelphia's Msgr. Lynn and Fr. Brennan, a witness stated that Bransfield had sex with teenage boys. The witness had alleged abuse for years by Bransfield's colleague, Rev. Stanley Gana. The witness said he was at Gana's farm in northeast Pennsylvania when a car full of teenagers that was driven by Bransfield pulled up. The witness said Gana told him they were Bransfield's "fair-haired boys" and that Bransfield was having sex with one of them.

A second witness and Gana accuser said in the 2012 Philadelphia trial that once after abusing him, Gana put him on the phone with Bransfield who said, "I'm going to have Stanley put you on a train and come down and see me sometime." Bransfield was living and working in Washington DC at the time.

DC assistant director 1979-1986; director 1986-1990



The witness in the 2012 Philadelphia trial also stated that when he was a minor Gana sexually abused him in a New Jersey beach house owned by Bransfield.

1990 2005 On Duty Outside the Diocese/Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Washington DC rector In 1990 Pope John Paul II declared the National Shrine a minor basilica.
2003 2005 Catholic University of America Washington DC Board of Trustees member  
    U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops Washington DC treasurer; Communications Committee member; National Collections Committee member  
    Knights of Columbus     member  
    Knights of the Holy Sepulchre     member  
    Papal Foundation Bala Cynwyd PA president  
    St. Charled Borromeo Seminary Philadelphia PA Board of Trustees member  
    Catholic Distance University Wheeling WV Board of Trustees member  
    Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Washington DC Board of Trustees member  


Bransfield was ordained and installed as Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston Feb. 22, 2005.

2019 Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston Wheeling WV   Bransfield vehemently denied the allegations made during a 2012 Philadelphia trial that he had sexually abused teenage boys. When Philadelphia prosecutors announced in July, 2012 that they were reviewing allegations that Bransfield had fondled a high school student in the 1970s, the Wheeling-Charleston diocese released a statement calling the allegations, "old news". Bransfield stated, "I have never sexually abused anyone." He resignedSeptember 13, 2018 after Pope Francis ordered an investigation into allegations that Bransfield sexually harassed adults.


Sources: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1972-2011)

Witness Links West Virginia Bishop to Priest Abuse, By Tony Hanson, CBS Philly, April 18, 2012
Witness Implicates a Bishop in Sex Abuse Scandal, By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Philadelphia Inquirer, April 18, 2012
Bishop of W.Va. Catholic Diocese Accused of Abuse, Charleston Daily Mail, April 19, 2012
A Statement from Bishop Michael J. Bransfield, Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, April 19, 2012
Today: Bishop Bransfield Denies Sexual Abuse Accusations, By Jared Hunt, Charleston Daily Mail, April 19, 2012
Bishop Denies Witness" Abuse Allegations, By Joseph A. Slobodzian and John P. Martin, Philadelphia Inquirer, April 20, 2012
Ousted Priest at Center of Abuse Trial, By John P. Martin and Joseph A. Slobodzian, Philadelphia Inquirer, April 22, 2012
Montco Reviewing Case against Cleric First Reported in 2007, By John P. Martin, Inquirer Staff Writer, July 8, 2012
SNAP Responds to Investigation of Alleged Sex Abuse by WV Bishop, By Ashley Mullins, WTRF, July 9, 2012
Diocese of Wheeling-charleston Releases Statement Regarding Bishop Bransfield Report, WTRF, July 9, 2012
Bransfield Again Denies Allegations, The Intelligencer, July 9, 2012
A Statement from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, July 9, 2012
Allegations Follow Bishop, By Heather Ziegler, The Intelligencer, July 10, 2012
Prosecutors Investigating Claim against Wv Bishop, Article Says, By Ben Adducchio, West Virginia Public Broadcasting, July 10, 2012
Montco DA Taking Second Look at Alleged Cleric Misconduct, By Margaret Gibbons, PhillyBurbs, July 10, 2012
Diocese: Bishop Not Charged, By Heather Ziegler, The Intelligencer, July 11, 2012
Pa. Prosecutor Reopens '07 Fondling Complaint against Roman Catholic Bishop of West Virginia, Washington Post, July 14, 2012
Accused U.S. Bishops,
Pope Orders Investigation of West Virginia Bishop Over Sex Allegations, By Laurie Goodstein, New York Times, September 13, 2018

Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Bransfield's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with allegations as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegation we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.

This assignment record was last updated on February 20, 2019.