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Diocese still awaiting guidelines from Vatican on Bransfield’s amends

WHEELING – More than eight months after the amends for disgraced bishop Michael Bransfield were announced, Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston officials still have heard nothing from The Vatican about how to proceed.

In a letter sent to Roman Catholics across West Virginia on Tuesday, the Most Rev. Mark Brennan said he is still waiting for guidance from Pope Francis on whether the amends set forth against the former bishop are appropriate or whether there should be changes.

Brennan, who was installed as the diocese’s new bishop last August, announced the multi-tiered amends on Nov. 26, which included $792,638 in restitution from Bransfield, along with numerous other conditions.

“The Coronavirus pandemic struck Italy hard, so that may account for the delay,” Brennan wrote in his letter. “Please pray for this matter to resolve itself soon.”

Bransfield resigned from his position as bishop in September 2018 after allegations surfaced that he mismanaged church funds, along with other misconduct.

Brennan said the amends would allow Bransfield to leave the Roman Catholic church in good standing. Church officials previously said Bransfield could negotiate with The Vatican for changes to the amends, although it was not known if he has been in contact with Brennan or Pope Francis.

Brennan said Tuesday he has not heard from The Vatican or the pope’s ambassador to the United States in nearly five months.

Other conditions of the amends included Bransfield’s monthly compensation package being reduced from $6,200 to $736, which is a stipend equal to the pension of a priest who served 13 years. He was also required to return or purchase the diocese’s car, and pay for his own prescription drug plan. It was also required that Bransfield apologize to the faithful in West Virginia and the diocesan employees.

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