Cardinal Dolan Must Come Clean about Gifts from Bishop Bransfield

New York’s top Catholic official has kept silent now for over a month now regarding cash gifts he received from a now-disgraced colleague. We believe he owes his flock an apology and an explanation, and that he should return the money to its rightful owners. 

On June 5, the Washington Post revealed that the now-retired Charleston West Virginia Bishop Michael Bransfield used proceeds from an odd source – a little-known Texas oil field – to spend lavishly on himself and other high-ranking Catholic officials, including New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

Some of those church officials have pledged to return the money to the West Virginia diocese. Others claim they’ve donated it to charity. Cardinal Dolan, however, has remained silent and is apparently doing neither.

Dolan’s silence is particularly ironic because he is one of the loudest bishops when it comes to promising “openness” and “transparency.” And he’s one of the prelates who needs extra money the least.

According to the Baltimore Sun, “Bransfield disbursed gifts amounting to $350,000 in cash to powerful cardinals and bishops including Dolan, Archbishop Lori of Baltimore, Cardinal Raymond Burke of the Vatican; and disgraced Cardinals Bernard Law, who was forced to resign as Boston’s archbishop in 2002 for his role in covering up child abuse by priests there, and Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who resigned last year amid allegations he sexually abused children and adults over decades.” That’s a group of men with pretty questionable records.

A close associate of Bransfield, a monsignor, wrote that “It is my own opinion that (Bransfield uses) monetary gifts. . .to higher ranking ecclesiastics and gifts to subordinates to purchase influence from the former and compliance or loyalty from the latter.”

It is time for Cardinal Dolan to disclose how much money he got and what Bransfield wanted in return, donate the money back to causes in West Virginia, and apologize for his secrecy.

CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director (zhiner@snapnetwork.org, 517-974-9009)

(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


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