The Bransfield File: ‘This is so much worse than we imagined’

The Bransfield File: ‘This is so much worse than we imagined’ September 12, 2019

 From The Washington Post: 

It was billed as a holy journey, a pilgrimage with West Virginia Bishop Michael J. Bransfield to “pray, sing and worship” at the National Shrine in Washington, D.C. Catholics from remote areas of one of the nation’s poorest states paid up to $190 for seats on overnight buses and hotel rooms.

Unknown to the worshipers, Bransfield traveled another way. He hired a private jet and, after a 33-minute flight, took a limousine from the airport. The church picked up his $6,769 travel bill.

That trip in September 2017 was emblematic of the secret history of Bransfield’s lavish travel. He spent millions of dollars from his diocese on trips in the United States and abroad, records show, while many of his parishioners struggled to find work, feed their families and educate their children.

 Pope Francis has said bishops should live modestly. During his 13 years as the leader of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Bransfield took nearly 150 trips on private jets and some 200 limousine rides, a Washington Post investigation found. He stayed at exclusive hotels in Washington, Rome, Paris, London and the Caribbean.

‘It is profoundly, morally wrong.’ 

Last year, Bransfield stayed a week in the penthouse of a legendary Palm Beach, Fla., hotel, at a cost of $9,336. He hired a chauffeur to drive him around Washington for a day at a cost of $1,383. And he spent $12,386 for a jet to fly him from the Jersey Shore to a meeting with the pope’s ambassador in the nation’s capital.

To gain a deeper understanding of Bransfield’s travel expenditures, The Post reconstructed his movements in the year before he retired in September 2018. The reporting drew on receipts obtained by The Post, public flight records and the confidential findings of the church’s own investigation as well as interviews with some of Bransfield’s companions and travel company representatives…

…“This is so much worse than we ever imagined,” Michael Iafrate, a church activist in West Virginia, said when told about The Post’s reporting. “It is profoundly, morally wrong.”

Read on, if you can stomach it.


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