Retired West Virginia Bishop Michael Bransfield told CNA Thursday that he is retired, wants to stay retired, and does not want to “do battle” with his successor, after Bishop Mark Brennan of Wheeling-Charleston called an apology from Bransfield, “self-serving” and “lacking in any contrition.”
“I’m retired and I want to stay retired, and I do not wish to do battle with my successor, I really don’t,” Bransfield told CNA by telephone Sept. 24.
“The problem is, when I start to comment, it gets into a battle,” Bransfield added.
After his retirement in 2018, Bransfield was accused of sexual and financial misconduct. A Church investigation followed, and Bransfield was ordered by the Vatican to make financial restitution for funds stolen from the diocese, and to apologize.
In a letter to West Virginia Catholics on Thursday, Bishop Brennan, who succeeded Bransfield as leader of the diocese last year, said the reaction of local Catholics to Bransfield’s Vatican-ordered apology, given in August, has been “mixed.”
Bransfield led the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston from 2004-2018. He is reported to have sexually harassed, assaulted, and coerced seminarians, priests, and other adults during his thirteen years as Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston.
After the Vatican-ordered investigation, Bransfield released Aug. 15 a letter through his former diocese, in which he apologized for “any scandal or wonderment caused by words or actions attributed to me.”
“For my part, I found his apology self-serving and lacking in any recognition of, or contrition for, actually having offended people,” Brennan wrote Thursday.
Responding to Brennan’s letter, Branfield told CNA “That is the bishop’s opinion.”
And you can read the full text of Bishop Brennan’s letter below.