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Washington D.C., Jun 6, 2019 / 05:01 pm (CNA).- When the U.S. bishops arrive in Baltimore next week for their second plenary meeting since a year of serious crisis began last June, they will do so under the specter of another demoralizing scandal. This one involves a well-connected bishop, a ledger of extravagant gifts, and allegations of abuse from priests and seminarians subject to the bishop’s authority.
The Washington Post reported June 5 that a months-long ecclesiastical investigation of Bishop Michael Bransfield, formerly of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, had uncovered evidence that the bishop had a reputation for being sexually inappropriate with seminarians and young priests, that he may have had a substance-abuse problem, and that he used diocesan funds generated from its Texas oil fields to support a lifestyle of luxury, and to give $350,000 in cash gifts to Vatican officials, fellow bishops, and other clerics.
Post - Report - Seminarians - Priests - Concerns
More troubling, the Post’s report suggests that when seminarians and young priests raised concerns about Bransfield’s behavior, they were met with either indifference or an unwillingness of authorities to intervene.
Some Catholics have already noted that Bransfield’s gift-giving habit likely gives some indication of how Theodore McCarrick’s ecclesial career prospered during his decades of sexual abuse. The former cardinal is also reputed to have given large cash gifts to brother bishops and to Vatican officials, which might have contributed to his apparent ability to escape the consequences of his actions, and to navigate curial back channels with ease.
Catholics - Evidence - Culture - Clubby - Loyalties
And some Catholics have also asked whether there is any evidence that an apparent culture of clubby loyalties cultivated through “personal gifts” has actually come to an end.
Several bishops who will be present in Baltimore will have been recipients of large gifts from Bransfield. And the revelation of his gift-giving habit has angered many Catholics, who wonder whether bishops can...
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