A Statement from Bishop Michael J. Bransfield
Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston
April 19, 2012
I have been deeply saddened by the priest child abuse scandal that has been connected to a handful of my former colleagues and friends from St. Charles Seminary. Over the years, I have felt devastation for both the victims and the church as I learned about the terrible actions they took with innocent victims.
To now be unfairly included in that group and to hear the horrific allegations that are being made of me is unbelievable and shocking. As a native of Roxboro, I consider Philadelphia my home. I have openly been an advocate for the eradication of the abusive behavior of priests in every diocese, and have demonstrated this in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, where I now live and serve.
I have never sexually abused anyone.
I understand that I am a public figure and therefore subject to public criticism. The nature of these statements and the manner in which they were released however go way beyond any sense of fairness and propriety. This case has gone on for seven years or more and simple facts like whether I own, or owned, a farm in the Scranton area were easily determinable. Contrary to the statements, I do not own, and never owned a farm in the Scranton area, upstate New York, or anywhere else for that matter.
The statement that a former seminarian of mine, Stanley Gana, abused a minor at a home which I owned on the shore and at which I permitted numerous friends and priests to use is misleading. What did not get released was additional information available to the Prosecutor that I was not aware of the incident and was not present at the house at the time. Gana has confirmed those facts in prior reports.
I was in Rome attending meetings at the Vatican when this false story about me was publicly released by the media without my knowledge or input. To say I was shocked and saddened would be an understatement.
I ask you to pray for me and the parishioners of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston as well as the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. At the same time, please join me in prayer for all those who have been affected by sexual abuse.