Investigative Report into Disgraced Bishop Michael Bransfield Released by Washington Post, not Church Officials
A report into allegations of abuse and financial impropriety against a disgraced West Virginia bishop has been released by the Washington Post. We applaud the journalists for the steadfast efforts to force the transparency that church officials have long promised but continuously fail to deliver.
The report into the crimes committed by former Bishop Michael Bransfield was commissioned by church officials themselves but they have fought off requests to make the document public, arguing that they “didn’t have access.” It is difficult to believe that church officials did not have a copy of the investigative report that they paid more than $500,000 for, continuing the trend of church officials refusing to release details about crimes that could help protect children and prevent more abuse from occurring in the future. It is incredibly disturbing that a diocese would fund this investigation, likely using monies donated by parishioners, and then claim that they don’t have a copy to release to those parishioners.
Sadly, we are not surprised at this outcome.
Children are best protected when communities are informed, and that can only happen when internal investigations are released and recommendations made public. We applaud the Washington Post and its team for their work in uncovering this report and making it public. We hope that parishioners and the public throughout West Virginia will read this report, learn more about the secrets that church officials have held close to their chest, and demand more transparency and openness from those prelates in the future.
Situations like this demonstrate, once again, that secrets are exposed and children are protected through the work of secular institutions, not religious ones. We hope that the public will look to this example as a reason to throw support behind people like these Washington Post journalists and West Virginia A.G. Patrick Morrisey who are fighting for the truth instead of church officials who continue to take every step to prevent that truth seeing the light of day.
(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)