Michael Joseph Bransfield

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Michael Joseph Bransfield
Bishop Emeritus of Wheeling-Charleston
AppointedDecember 9, 2004
InstalledFebruary 22, 2005
Term endedSeptember 13, 2018
PredecessorBernard William Schmitt
OrdinationMay 15, 1971
by John Krol
ConsecrationFebruary 22, 2005
by William Henry Keeler, Theodore Edgar McCarrick, and Bernard William Schmitt
Personal details
Born (1943-09-08) September 8, 1943 (age 75)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Styles of
Michael Joseph Bransfield
Coat of arms of Michael Joseph Bransfield.svg
Reference style
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Religious styleBishop

Michael Joseph Bransfield (born September 8, 1943) is an American prelate of the Catholic Church who served as bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia from 2005 to 2018.


Early life and education[edit]

Bransfield was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He attended St. Bridget's Grade School, St. John the Baptist High School and graduated from Roman Catholic High School for Boys. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Master's degree in Divinity from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Wynnewood.

Ordination and ministry[edit]

Bransfield was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal John Krol on May 15, 1971, and then did pastoral work in Huntingdon Valley until 1973. He earned his master's in philosophy from the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., in 1973, and then worked as a teacher, chaplain, and chairman of the religion department at Lansdale Catholic High School. In 1987, Pope John Paul II named Bransfield as an honorary prelate.[1]

Rector of Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception[edit]

Bransfield was named assistant director and director of liturgy (1980), director of finance (1982), and director (1986) at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.[2][3] In 1990, Bransfield was named the first ever rector of the newly named Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and served in this position until 2004.[4][2][5][3]

Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia[edit]

On December 9, 2004, Bransfield was appointed the eighth Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, by Pope John Paul II.

He received episcopal consecration on February 22, 2005 from Cardinal William Henry Keeler, with Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick and Bishop Bernard William Schmitt serving as co-consecrators, at St. Joseph's Cathedral.

A trustee and current president of The Papal Foundation, Bishop Bransfield also sits on the Board of Trustees of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. He holds membership in the Knights of Columbus and the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre. Within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, he serves as treasurer and sits on the Communications Committee and the National Collections Committee.

Pope Francis accepted his resignation on September 13, 2018 and named Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese.[6][7] As required by Vatican law, Bransfield submitted his letter of resignation after turning 75, which occurred the week before it was accepted.[8] Pope Francis also asked Lori to conduct an investigation into Bishop Bransfield's sexual harassment of adults.[9][7]

Accusation of sexual abuse[edit]

On Wednesday, April 18, 2012, the Associated Press reported that Bishop Bransfield had been accused of sexual abuse of a boy in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. On Thursday, April 19, 2012, a Catholic News Service (CNS) online news brief regarding the matter stated:

Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston said secondhand allegations that he sexually abused a teenage boy are completely false. The accusations against Bishop Bransfield, who was ordained a priest for the Philadelphia Archdiocese, were raised April 18 by a witness at the trial of two Philadelphia priests on sex abuse-related charges. The witness said another Philadelphia priest who has since been removed from ministry told him about the alleged abuse by Bishop Bransfield. "I have never sexually abused anyone", said an April 19 statement from the 68-year-old bishop, who has never been charged with any abuse. He said he understood he was "a public figure and therefore subject to public criticism ... the nature of these statements and the manner in which they were released ... go way beyond any sense of fairness and propriety". Bishop Bransfield said it was "misleading" to report that Stanley Gana, the former priest who is purported to have made the allegation, admitted abusing a minor at a vacation home owned by the bishop. "What did not get released was additional information available to the prosecutor that I was not aware of the incident and was not present at the house at the time ... Gana has confirmed those facts in prior reports ..."[10][11]

The accusations against Bishop Bransfield were proved false when the alleged victim came forth and flatly denied that he had been abused by Bishop Bransfield.[12] However, it was also reported that Bransfield transported several teenage boys to Fr. Gana's farmhouse whenever the former priest molested them and allowed Fr. Gana to commit further molestation at his beach house.[7]

In September 2018, Bransfield resigned effective immediately, faced with unspecified "allegations of sexual misconduct" with adults. At the time he was described as a "close associate of the former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, who resigned from the College of Cardinals in July [2018]" over child and seminarian abuse accusations McCarrick denied.[13]


  1. ^ https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/national_shrine_rector_named_west_virginia_bishop
  2. ^ a b https://books.google.com/books?id=P2CRrf2CBAMC&pg=PA20&lpg=PA20&dq=michael+bransfield+1980+director+of+liturgy&source=bl&ots=r7EvfXy60P&sig=hZfdjPdxvFbauS2CTQLdgYxhHhE&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiYyK7I0bjdAhXI0FQKHf4cCTwQ6AEwCXoECAMQAQ#v=onepage&q=michael%20bransfield%201980%20director%20of%20liturgy&f=false
  3. ^ a b http://www.bishopaccountability.org/assign/Bransfield_Michael_J.htm
  4. ^ https://www.thetablet.co.uk/news/9742/pope-orders-investigation-into-us-bishop
  5. ^ http://www.theintelligencer.net/news/top-headlines/2018/09/bishop-bransfield-resigns-being-investigated/
  6. ^ http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/it/bollettino/pubblico/2018/09/13/0636/01363.html
  7. ^ a b c https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-accepts-resignation-of-west-virginia-bishop-as-inquiry-into-abuse-claims-launched-38640
  8. ^ Hanna, Jason, “Catholic bishop in West Virginia resigns amid sexual harassment investigation’, CNN, September 13, 2018.
  9. ^ https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/u-s-bishops-meet-pope-amid-crisis-confidence-over-church-n909146
  10. ^ Scandalous charges by Stanley Gana against Bishop Bransfield, catholicnews.com; April 19, 2012; accessed December 30, 2017.
  11. ^ Witness priest said West Virginia bishop once abused teen, seattlepi.com; accessed December 30, 2017.
  12. ^ "Philly Inquirer Rebroadcasts Wholly Discredited Claim of Abuse Against Bishop". Themediareport.com. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  13. ^ Goodstein, Laurie, Fall of a West Virginia Bishop Widens the Catholic Crisis Over Sex Abuse", New York Times, September 13, 2018. Retrieved 2013-09-13.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Bernard William Schmitt
Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston
Succeeded by
Sede Vacante
Preceded by
Rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Succeeded by
Walter R. Rossi