New Bishop has a Big Clean-Up Job in West Virginia
A new bishop has been installed in West Virginia’s Catholic diocese. We call on him to make the protection of children and prevention of abuse his number one priority now that he is officially at the helm.
Bishop Mark Brennan was installed as the head of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston last week. Now that he is formally on the job, we believe his first priority should be clear and simple: to protect the vulnerable. In order to demonstrate his commitment to this priority, we call on him to take two immediate steps.
First, to use his power and influence to do everything he can to insure that his predecessor, who has been accused of sexual abuse and harassment, lives in an independent, professionally-run, remote and secure treatment center. This will help ensure that former Bishop Michael Bransfield is monitored and kept away from vulnerable members of the community. For the past year, to our knowledge, Bishop Bransfield has been free of any supervision.
If an even higher-ranking abuser, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, can be sent far away from his former diocese to a remote friary in rural Kansas, then so too can Bishop Bransfield.
Second, Bishop Brennan should take extra care to scour the official diocesan list of “credibly accused” abusive clerics and add any names that may have been left off by previous church officials. He should be sure to name all publicly accused clergy who worked in West Virginia, whether diocesan, external or order, and whether the known abuse occurred in his diocese or elsewhere.
The Bishop should also name any abusive nuns, monks, seminarians, brothers, bishops and lay employees as well. Finally, each entry should include photos, complete work histories, and last known whereabouts of each of the accused.
These are simple and straightforward steps that Bishop Brennan can take to demonstrate his commitment to keeping children and vulnerable adults safe. We hope he will immediately make them both his highest priority.
(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)