AT LAST: A Bishop Shows the Courage to Denounces His Predecessor’s Behavior

One more reason to give thanks…

Please understand the significance of this this news story. For the first time, an American bishop has denounced his predecessor for gross misconduct, demanded an apology, and sought restitution for victims from the offending prelate.

Bishop Mark Brennan of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, wants the previous leader of that diocese, Bishop Michael Bransfield, to pay back nearly $800,000 of the diocesan funds that had maintained him in a life of luxury. Bishop Brennan also said that Bransfield will lose his retirement benefits, and his right to be buried in a diocesan cemetery.

These penalties, Bishop Brennan said, are a matter of “restorative justice.” But more than that: “It is also for his own spiritual good and his own healing as a man who professes to follow Christ.”

Over the past two decades, dozens of American bishops have been shown guilty of gross negligence and/or personal misconduct. But in case after case, a prelate who resigned in disgrace has been treated with elaborate courtesy by his colleagues and especially by his successors.

Was Archbishop Rembert Weakland required to pay back the $450,000 he paid in hush money to a former lover? No.

Was Bishop Robert Lynch asked to help the diocese pay $100,000 in “severance” to an aide who complained of sexual harassment? No.

Were Bishops Anthony O’Connell, Lawrence Welsh, Daniel Ryan, Thomas Dupre, Joseph Ferrario, and Louis Gelineau directed to issue public apologies, or deprived of retirement benefits, or excluded from diocesan cemeteries? Guess again.

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