Vatican Punishment of Ex-bishop Bransfield Comes up Short

July 24, 2019

Despite facing multiple accusations of sexual harassment and abuse, on Friday the Vatican declined to permanently remove a disgraced West Virginia bishop from the church, opting instead for a lesser punishment. This sends the message that cases of sexual abuse against adults are still not taken seriously by church officials.

Ex-Bishop Michael Bransfield has now been barred from participating in mass publicly or from living in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston in West Virginia, his old home. Such a punishment is the bare minimum for a prelate who is alleged to not only have sexually assaulted seminarians during his time as Bishop, but who also gave away lavish gifts and cash to curry favor with other church officials. And such a punishment underscores how little church officials at the Vatican understand or care about cases of sexual abuse.

We hope that those were abused, harassed, or otherwise hurt by Bransfield will feel some measure of comfort knowing that he is barred from living near them. And we hope that this weak punishment doled out by the Vatican will encourage others with knowledge or suspicions of Bransfield’s abusive behavior to report what they know to local police, prosecutors, and the attorney general.

CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director (, 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is








Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.