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The U.S. bishops have cost faithful Catholics nearly $4 billion in sex abuse payouts — money Catholics thought were funding charities, seminaries and parishes. But now that the homosexual cleric abuse epidemic has been exposed, bishops continue to ask for more money and shelter diocesan assets.
Bishop Michael Bransfield, head of the diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia from 2005–2018, stole millions from the coffers of one of the poorest dioceses in the United States. He has a nearly 14-year track record of frivolous and wasteful spending, blowing millions to live a luxurious lifestyle while lay Catholics in the diocese struggled.
While he had a personal chef and chauffeur, he spent $100 a day on flowers and his monthly booze bill exceeded $1,000. He also gave hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash gifts to his priest-friends — none of which came from his own personal bank account.
His travel bill exceeded $2.4 million and he used the occasion of a bathroom fire as an opportunity to renovate his dwellings from top to bottom for $4.6 million.
Finally, after over a decade, the cries of the faithful were heard by the Vatican and he was put under investigation. But last year, the Vatican dismissed him with a slap on the wrist, with Pope Francis decreeing he is prohibited from residing in the diocese, is banned from presiding or participating in any public celebration of the liturgy, and is obliged to "make personal amends for some of the harm he caused."
In June, Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò commented to Italian journalist Marco Tosatti "Bishop Bransfield is a perfect example of what I was referring to," in remarks following his Washington Post interview, where he had referred to a "corrupt gay mafia" running the Church.
But Bransfield is just one of many, and dioceses are still shaking down the people of God for cash while trying to shelter their own assets. As investigations into the mafia-like activities going on in chanceries across the country, expect bishops to keep one hand out for cash and another hand to keep others away from what they already have.
The Church Militant panel explains more about the corruption on today's episode of The Download—The USCCB's Shell Game.
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