Archbishop William Lori Scrubs Mention of Financial Gifts in Report to Vatican on Bishop Michael Bransfield
The fox is guarding the henhouse. Or rather, the bank accounts of the hens.
With the news that Archbishop William Lori scrubbed any mention of gifts or monetary exchanges between Bishop Michael Bransfield and some of his brother bishops from his report to the Vatican, we cannot help but feel that this is another example of bishops covering for bishops. Those feelings are compounded by the fact that Archbishop Lori himself was among the recipients of Bishop Bransfield’s lavish gifts.
Investigators have concluded that Bishop Bransfield gave large gifts to many of the young priests he sexually abused in order to keep them quiet. It is not hard to imagine that he similarly gave gifts to other bishops in hopes they would keep quiet as well.
Archbishop Lori claims he simply thought Bishop Bransfield was being generous and kind. But combined with the fact that there have been rumblings about Bishop Bransfield’s misconduct for years, it is difficult to take this claim at face value. Archbishop Lori similarly claims that he removed from the report any mention of the gifts because “it seemed arbitrary to mention one group who got gifts and not a lot of others.” Nonsense. Every group that received these gifts should have been mentioned and investigations should be underway to determine if any of those gifts were quid pro quo.
The fact is that cases of sexual abuse have been covered-up and mishandled by Church officials for far too long for us to have any faith that this change to the Vatican report was done innocently. Given that Pope Francis’ recently announced rules regarding “mandated reporting” for church staff requires internal reporting to bishops, this case shows, to us, why that internal reporting is not the bulwark that Pope Francis believes it will be.
We hope that A.G. Patrick Morrisey is looking closely at this news as he continues his novel lawsuit against the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. We also hope that this news encourages others who may have seen, suspected or suffered abuse – whether by Bishop Bransfield or any other Church official – to come forward and make a report to law enforcement.
CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected])
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)