Pope Francis Bans Former W.Va. Bishop from Public Ministry, Residing in State

Jul 19, 2019

Following an investigation into a West Virginia bishop for sexual and financial misconduct, the Vatican has banned him from public ministry and handed down other sanctions. 

According to a letter from the pope’s diplomatic mission to the United States, former Bishop Michael Bransfield has been banned from presiding over or participating in public worship.

The letter, which was posted Friday to the website of the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese, also states Bransfield is banned from living in the jurisdiction, which includes the entire state of West Virginia. Under the direction of a new bishop, Bransfield is also obligated to “make personal amends for some of the harm he caused.”

Bransfield stepped down in September 2018 after allegations of sexual harassment and financial misconduct, including gifting hundreds of thousands in cash to other Catholic leaders.

The findings of an internal investigation, released last month by Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, found those allegations to be credible.