West Virginia Bishop Spent Lavishly On Himself While Preying On Younger Priests

On his way out for alleged charges, Bishop Michael Bransfield used Church funds to buy gifts for his fellow clergymen.

The head of the Catholic Church in West Virginia gave gifts totaling $350,000 to other high ranking members of the state’s clergy, young priests he is accused of mistreating, and dozens of cardinals from around the US and world, according to church records obtained by The Washington Post.

Bishop Bransfield used his personal checkbook to make these gifts - one as large as $15,000 - in the months and years leading up to his pressured departure. The diocese of West Virginia paid Bransfield back in the form of hefty pay raises, records show.

William Lori of Baltimore, the archbishop overseeing the investigation, had the names of the recipients redacted, however, further digging has yielded the identities of those who were gifted Church funds.

Five investigators outside of the church reported that the gifts were a part of a larger pattern of abuse of power by Bransfield, which included spending church money on himself and harassing young priests.

“Bishop Bransfield adopted an extravagant and lavish lifestyle that was in stark contrast to the faithful he served and was for his own personal benefit.”

West Virginia is one of the poorest states in the nation, and churchgoers donate millions of dollars to the diocese. The Church is a tax-exempt nonprofit, and expenses can only be for charitable purposes.