Michael J. Bransfield, then-bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, W.Va., in 2015. (Scott McCloskey/Intelligencer/AP)

By Robert O’Harrow Jr. and Shawn Boburg Washington Post.

Senior Catholic leaders in the United States and the Vatican began receiving warnings about West Virginia Bishop Michael J. Bransfield as far back as 2012. In letters and emails, parishioners claimed that Bransfield was abusing his power and misspending church money on luxuries such as a personal chef, a chauffeur, first-class travel abroad and more than $1 million in renovations to his residence.

“I beg of you to please look into this situation,” Linda Abrahamian, a parishioner from Martinsburg, W.Va., wrote in 2013 to the pope’s ambassador to the United States.

But Bransfield’s conduct went unchecked for five more years. He resigned in September 2018 after one of his closest aides came forward with an incendiary inside account of years of sexual and financial misconduct, including the claim that Bransfield sought to “purchase influence” by giving hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash gifts to senior Catholic leaders.

“It is my own opinion that His Excellency makes use of monetary gifts, such as those noted above, to higher ranking ecclesiastics and gifts to subordinates to purchase influence from the former and compliance or loyalty from the latter,” Monsignor Kevin Quirk wrote to William Lori, the archbishop of Baltimore, in a letter obtained by The Washington Post.
At least four senior clerics outside West Virginia who received parishioner complaints about Bransfield also accepted cash gifts from him, more than $32,000 in all, according to an analysis of letters and other documents obtained by The Post.

The previously unreported Quirk letter and the complaints from parishioners raise questions about when Catholic leaders first knew of Bransfield’s conduct and why they took no action for years. They also reveal the roots of a church financial scandal that exploded into public view in June with a Washington Post account of the findings of a Vatican-ordered investigation of Bransfield.

Baltimore Archbishop William Lori at a Mass at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Martinsburg, W.Va., on June 16. (Lexi Browning for The Washington Post)

[W.Va. bishop gave powerful cardinals and other priests $350,000 in cash gifts before his ouster, church records show]
Five lay investigators concluded early this year that Bransfield abused his authority by sexually harassing young priests and spending church money on personal luxuries, according to their final report and other documents obtained by The Post. Bransfield spent $2.4 million on travel, often flying in private jets, as well as $4.6 million in all to renovate his church residence, church records show. His cash gifts to fellow clergymen totaled $350,000, the records show.

Bransfield drew on a little-known source of money for the diocese — millions of dollars in annual revenue from oil wells in West Texas, on land that was donated to the diocese a century ago. The wells have yielded an average of about $15 million annually in recent years.

Bransfield wrote more than 500 checks to other clerics during his 13 years in West Virginia, gifts for which he was reimbursed by the diocese. Recipients who also received parishioner complaints were Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, then the nuncio, the pope’s ambassador to the United States; Cardinal Raymond Burke, then the leader of the church’s judicial authority in Rome; Archbishop Peter Wells, then a senior administrator in the pope’s Secretariat of State at the Vatican; and Lori, who as Baltimore archbishop has some nominal responsibilities for overseeing the West Virginia diocese and who later supervised the Vatican investigation launched after Quirk’s account.

Bransfield’s generosity with church money extended beyond the cash gifts. In 2013, Viganò accepted a half-hour ride on a jet chartered by Bransfield at a cost to the West Virginia diocese of about $200 a minute, documents and interviews show.

The diocesan property in Wheeling, W.Va., where Bishop Michael Bransfield lived is pictured on June 4. His West Virginia diocese paid $4.6 million to renovate the residence, church records show. (Michelle Boorstein/The Washington Post)

In statements, Wells, Burke and Lori said the gifts did not influence how they responded to parishioners’ complaints.

Viganò said he did not recall receiving complaints and did not give Bransfield favorable treatment. He said he gave the monetary gifts to charity shortly after receiving them. He said he did not know the private jet provided by Bransfield to an event in West Virginia was paid for by the diocese.

In a phone interview, Bransfield defended his spending as bishop, saying it was justified and approved by financial managers at the diocese. He said many of his accomplishments in West Virginia, including expanding a church-owned hospital and renovating schools, had been overshadowed by the scandal.

Bransfield denied that the monetary gifts were an effort to buy influence. He said he was already successful and did not need favors or special treatment.
“They could do nothing for me,” he said. “I was at the top of my game.”
Quirk did not respond to requests seeking comment.

Raising concerns for years

Parishioners provided their emails and letters about Bransfield following The Post’s report in early June. In interviews, some said they had long wondered why no one had acted on their complaints.

“We felt like there was something up,” said Kellee Abner, an anesthesiologist from Charleston, W.Va. “It is difficult to understand how all the attempts to expose conduct in the diocese could have been ignored by so many for so long.”

Since the Post report was published, at least a dozen Catholic clerics, including Lori, have pledged to return money to the West Virginia diocese. Many said they had not been aware that the money came from church coffers.
[Vatican cardinal, other priests to return cash gifts from ousted West Virginia bishop Michael Bransfield]
In 2005, soon after Bransfield arrived in Wheeling, W.Va., concerns about his spending became public. The Charleston Gazette-Mail wrote articles in 2006 and 2013 that drew attention to some of his extravagances, noting that Bransfield had a driver, a personal chef and a fondness for architectural refinements, such as cherry-wood paneling.

The 2013 article said parishioners accused Bransfield of “living too profligate a lifestyle” and failing to follow Pope Francis’s prescription of a modest life for clerics. The next year, the New York Times cited that account in a broader story about financial excesses in the church.

At the time, Bransfield spokesman Bryan Minor described the bishop’s spending as reasonable. He said Bransfield’s chef saved the diocese money because he also catered church events.

In the interview with The Post, Bransfield defended the spending on his residence, saying water damage related to a fire in a bathroom was greater than what is reflected in the lay investigators’ report. “I did a restoration,” he said, adding that from his prior position in Washington he was accustomed to living in a finely appointed home.

Through it all, Bransfield maintained a prominent, sometimes controversial public profile.

He regularly traveled to the Vatican while serving as treasurer of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and president of the board of trustees for the Papal Foundation, a group that channels money from wealthy Catholic contributors into charitable projects favored by the pope.

In 2012, news accounts reported that Bransfield was mentioned by a witness in a Philadelphia sexual abuse trial involving a local priest. The witness testified that the priest on trial once told him that Bransfield had sex with a teenage boy. Bransfield issued a statement vehemently denying the claim. That same year, Bransfield was the subject of news reports when authorities in Philadelphia reopened an investigation into a separate allegation that he had fondled a teenage boy decades earlier while working as a teacher at a Catholic high school. Bransfield denied ever sexually abusing anyone. No charges were brought.

Bransfield told The Post that a diocese investigation into the allegations cleared him of wrongdoing.
Some West Virginia parishioners grumbled about Bransfield from the start. But their anger boiled over in 2012, when Bransfield ordered that a pastor, the Rev. Jim Sobus, be relocated from Our Lady of Fatima Church in Huntington to a remote parish.
Sobus had criticized Bransfield’s management of the diocese, and a handful of parishioners had complained to the diocese about the way Sobus managed a Catholic school and meted out discipline.

But scores of parishioners wrote to Bransfield or signed petitions praising Sobus in unsuccessful appeals to keep him at his home parish, documents show. Sobus was later suspended for failing to report to his new assignment.

Complaints to the Vatican

Parishioners also reached out to Lori, Viganò and clerics at the Vatican, in letters that sometimes contrasted Bransfield’s spending with the modest lifestyle of “Father Jim.”

On Nov. 5, 2012, a Catholic activist named Christine Pennington wrote to Lori to complain that Bransfield had a rectory “renovated in high style — granite kitchen, stainless steel appliances, tile floor, all new high end (Thomasville style) furniture,” the letter shows.

“At the very least, he has not been a good steward & these are perfect examples,” Pennington wrote.
Six days later, Abner, the anesthesiologist, sent an email to Lori with the subject line: “Confidential and Urgent for Archbishop William Lori.” The note said she had a matter of “utmost and urgent” need.

Abner said she received a call back from a Lori spokesman, Sean Caine, and the two discussed her concerns about relocating Sobus. Abner said they also spoke about Bransfield’s spending on personal luxuries, such as the renovation of his residence and offices.
“It was, ‘This guy is corrupt,’ ” Abner recalled.

Caine told her that Lori had no authority to investigate or discipline Bransfield, she said. “He told me, ‘Take it to Rome,’ ” she said.

Caine told The Post he did not recall the details of that conversation.

In an interview, he acknowledged that Lori received a long, detailed letter from a parishioner about Bransfield’s spending on home renovations. Lori considered the complaints “speculative in nature” and beyond his authority to investigate, Caine said.

Even so, Caine said, Lori called Bransfield and raised the concerns with him. “Nothing in that conversation led [Lori] to believe there was anything like the extent of spending, or the potential misuse of church funds, that would be revealed” by the later investigation, Caine said.

[Lori’s letter to ‘the Priests and the Faithful of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston’]

Lori began receiving checks from Bransfield in May 2012, the same month he became archbishop, and accepted them annually through 2017. He received a total of $10,500, church records show. After The Post raised questions about the gifts, Lori said he would return $7,500. He said the other $3,000 was paid as stipends and travel reimbursements for celebrating two Masses in the West Virginia diocese.
Abner did take her complaints to Rome, sending Cardinal Burke a 10-page fax about an alleged campaign by Bransfield’s team against Sobus, according to receipts she provided to The Post.

“I beg for help from you Father,” she wrote in February 2013. “We need to stand up for the Truth as Jesus would want us, but we also need those who will stand with us.”

Burke did not respond to her appeals, she said.

“I’m sure that people within the church knew about Bransfield,” she told The Post. “There was a whole year of pressure and communication.”
Burke received 15 checks from 2008 to 2017 worth a total of $9,700, church records show.

Burke said in a statement that he did not know Bransfield well but that Bransfield regularly asked him to meet with priests who accompanied Bransfield to Rome. Burke said some of the checks were honorariums for these talks about his work at the Vatican. Others were gifts Bransfield sent on holidays or to mark Burke’s ordination as a cardinal, he said.

He said he donated the money to charity. “A Cardinal makes an oath not to accept any gift from someone seeking a favor pertaining to his office and work,” Burke said in the statement. “In the case of the gifts of Bishop Bransfield, I never had any reason to suspect that anything was awry.”

Alerts to pope’s ambassador

Viganò, the pope’s representative in Washington, received multiple letters in 2013 that raised questions about Bransfield’s lavish life amid the poverty of West Virginia, documents show.
In March 2013, Pennington, who had earlier written to Lori, sent Viganò a short letter about “the life of luxury, self-centeredness, & abuse of power by Bishop Michael Bransfield, Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia.”
“To verify my facts, below is a news article from the Charleston, Gazette (WV) outlining the beginning of a ‘spending spree,’ ” she wrote.

The article’s headline reads: “Renovations to Bishop’s House Top $1 Million.”

“West Virginia’s Catholic diocese has spent well over $1 million this year on renovations to houses for Bishop Michael Bransfield, including the addition of a 13-foot-long sunken bar and a 100-square-foot wine cellar,” says the article’s first sentence.
In May, Viganò received a blunt but less detailed letter from Joanna Brown, a parishioner at Our Lady of Fatima Church.

“Bishop Bransfield has been enjoying a self-indulgent lifestyle,” Brown wrote in a letter that was copied to two other clerics in Rome. “I want to know why this is being allowed when Pope Francis is preaching the opposite.”

In a letter that same month sent to Viganò and copied to cardinals in Rome, parishioners Robert and Virginia Hickman echoed Brown’s complaint.
“There are so many ‘stories’ about the lifestyle of the hierarchy of our Diocese that one should investigate for themselves to verify facts,” the Hickmans wrote. “Your inquiry and review of all matters in the DIOCESE OF WHEELING/CHARLESTON would be a blessing for all parishioners.”

In July 2013, during the flurry of letters, Viganò joined Bransfield in Mount Hope, W.Va., to celebrate Mass at a jamboree attended by 10,000 Boy Scouts. Viganò told The Post that he had been stranded at an airport in Charlotte on his way to the event and called Bransfield to let him know. Bransfield sent a chartered jet to pick him up.

Church documents and flight records show a seven-seat Learjet was dispatched to pick up Viganò in North Carolina, flying him 35 minutes to Charleston, W.Va. The flight cost the diocese $7,687, church financial records show.

Viganò said in a statement to The Post that he had no reason to suspect the private jet travel was improper. He said he assumed “a generous benefactor” had paid for the jet, citing Bransfield’s role as president of a nonprofit group that raises millions of dollars from prominent laypeople, the Papal Foundation.

“Given these facts, there was no reason for me to investigate or report anything to the Vatican,” Viganò said.
[Catholic bishops adopt long-promised abuse plan — for bishops to police bishops]

Viganò received two checks worth $1,000 each that year, one in March and the other in December, and $6,000 in all from Bransfield from 2011 to 2015, church records show.

Viganò said he did not recall receiving letters about Bransfield’s conduct during his time as nuncio.

“That said, the Nunciature receives many complaints about all sorts of matters every day,” he said, adding that it was possible letters about Bransfield were not brought to his attention.
The Nunciature in Washington did not return several messages and emails requesting comment.

Viganò’s predecessor, Pietro Sambi, received $20,500 in cash gifts from Bransfield before his death in 2011.
Viganò added that he had heard “rumors” that Bransfield was harassing young priests and misusing diocese money on personal expenses but that those rumors were “never substantiated.”

Without elaborating, he said Bransfield once called directly to preempt a rumor of sexual misconduct. “On one occasion,” Viganò said, “he called me to alert me that I might hear about possible accusations against him. He denied any wrongdoing.”

Caine, Lori’s spokesman, offered a different account, citing internal documents he would not release. He said “that as early as May 2013 that the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, was aware of concerns about spending by Bishop Bransfield.”
In August 2015, Sobus wrote a three-page letter to Pope Francis to complain about Bransfield’s “unjust administration of our diocese.” Sobus raised concerns about a custom-made fireplace in the bishop’s office, personal companions who traveled first-class with Bransfield abroad at church expense and other luxuries.

“You spoke about the lavish lifestyles of clergy and the poor witness they give,” Sobus wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Post. “Bishop Bransfield has remodeled and renovated several properties owned by this diocese to use as his mansions. He has spent millions of dollars doing so.”
“Newspaper reporters have spoken out against his lavish lifestyle,” Sobus wrote. “Please note, this diocese is located in the poorest state in the US!”
[‘He hurt people’: West Virginia’s long-faithful Catholics grapple with allegations against their bishop]
A few weeks later, Sobus received a brief note from Wells, the chief of staff at the Vatican’s Secretariat of State. “I assure you that a copy of your letter has been forwarded to the Congregation for the Clergy, which has competence over such matters,” Wells wrote.

A Vatican spokesman told The Post that Wells’s involvement ended there.
Wells accepted $6,500 from Bransfield in 13 checks from 2009 to 2015, records show.

“Archbishop Wells, then Monsignor Wells, never knew, nor suspected, that the gifts in question — usually received around Christmas and Easter by personal check — were derived from diocesan funds. Archbishop Wells had absolutely no knowledge that Church patrimony was being harmed by receipt of these gifts,” spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said. “Importantly, Bishop Bransfield neither requested nor received favored treatment of any kind from Archbishop Wells.”
In a February 2016 letter, an archbishop from the Congregation of the Clergy urged Sobus to show obedience to the church and, as a solution to his problem, to reach out to Bransfield for “the good of your soul.”

“The bishop of Wheeling-Charleston appears quite ready to make some provisions for you,” Archbishop Joël Mercier wrote.

The inside account

In August 2018, the claims against Bransfield took on a new significance when Monsignor Quirk, a vicar and one of Bransfield’s closest aides, became a whistleblower. Quirk wrote a scathing eight-page letter to Lori, the Baltimore archbishop, that drew on years of close observations of Bransfield’s conduct.

“I present the following as reason for this request, which I realize to be extraordinary in nature but which I judge to be in keeping with the demands for justice, as a means to repair scandal already caused and to prevent its further spread, and to protect the faithful of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston from further harm,” Quirk wrote on Aug. 8, in a letter that was ultimately distributed to multiple people.

Quirk, 52, is a canon lawyer who served as Bransfield’s judicial adviser and played a prominent role in church operations and Bransfield’s personal affairs.

In his letter to Lori, Quirk justified his decision to turn on Bransfield, citing his firsthand accounts of drug and alcohol abuse and sexual harassment, along with Bransfield’s excessive personal spending.

“The effects of alcohol abuse appear to be increasing, impairing his Excellency’s ability to function, such that it can be said that he is impaired from dinner time each evening until lunch time the next day,” Quirk wrote, adding that “he is intentionally using Vicodin so that he is at least medicated if not high while exercising the Pontificals.”

Quirk said he witnessed Bransfield inappropriately hugging young priests and caressing their faces, and he alleged that Bransfield takes a prurient interest in certain men, even coaxing shirtless photographs of them, which he retains on his cellphone.”

Quirk provided inside financial documents to support his claims that Bransfield spent excessively on personal luxuries, the letter said. That included almost $134,000 over five years on flowers for friends and $55,000 in other gifts such as hams and fruit baskets, according to the letter. Quirk also wrote that Bransfield installed a $161,000 custom-made floor for two rooms in a townhouse that was being renovated for his use in his retirement — and later decided to live elsewhere because the townhouse was too small.

Bransfield told The Post that he did not abuse alcohol or prescription medicine, adding that “no one has seen me inebriated.” He said any photographs of shirtless men on his cellphone had been sent to him and were innocuous. He acknowledged ordering the custom floors and sending flowers, hams and other gifts but said he did not know the costs involved.

In describing the cash gifts Bransfield gave to other clergy members, Quirk used the term “simony” — the buying or selling of church offices or positions. Quirk wrote that Bransfield’s gifts to Catholic leaders and young priests

“were corrupting these relationships into utilitarian bonds of dependence.”
He asked Lori to help arrange for Bransfield to be removed and replaced by someone from outside the state.
The lay investigative team was appointed by Lori one month later. Their report, delivered to Lori in February, faulted Quirk and two other vicars with enabling Bransfield’s conduct and called for their dismissal.
Before sending it to the Vatican in March, Lori ordered that the names of recipients of cash gifts, in

cluding his own name, be removed.
Lori told The Post that including the names of senior clerics who received money from Bransfield might have suggested that “there were expectations for reciprocity,” adding that “no evidence was found to suggest this.”
Several days after the Post report about the Bransfield investigation, the diocese announced that Quirk and two other vicars had resigned.
[Three priests accused of enabling W.Va. bishop’s ‘predatory and harassing conduct’ resign]
In a recent video statement, Lori acknowledged that “Bishop Bransfield engaged in a pattern of excessive and inappropriate spending.”
Lori said he could not explain how it happened.
“Friends, there is no excuse nor adequate explanation that will satisfy the troubling question of how Bishop Bransfield’s behavior was allowed to continue for as long as it did without the accountability that we must require for those who have been entrusted with so much, both spiritual and material,” Lori said.
Michelle Boorstein, Andrew Ba Tran, Alice Crites and Chico Harlan contributed to this report.


What disgraceful behaviour by this bishop.

But we know from the Bisho of Bling and our own Noel Treanor, that many of these guys live like kings.

And still the Cathbots keep giving them lolly!


Oh Pat: Don’t be so critical! These ‘holy men’ work ever so hard; make such sacrifices; give such exemplary service to Holy Mother Church………
Surely we mustn’t begrudge them such little compensations.
Eviva and all that!


Christ-betrayers. ALL of them. Truly, they have had their reward.
Now it is time for divine punishment of men who, outrageously, vow obedience to other men rather than to me.


And everyone denied knowing despite the flurry of complaints and gossip. They were just getting on with being good priests and not rocking the boat.
This is almost the definition of a good priest.


Surely our Bishops don’t live such lavish lifestyles + Pat? They’re supposed to smell like the ba bas!


Bishop Pat, I know you are a great believer in transparency at all times, and I see that as one of your greatest qualities. So, for the benefit of all readers of the blog, could you just refresh our memories about the row that you had with the owners of Jolley’s Pet Foods many years ago? Wasn’t that a row over what they believed to be an abuse of expenses by yourself? If my memory serves me right, they had assisted you in purchasing the disused church in Omeath, but for some reason they said you were abusing a company credit card by paying for holidays in Europe. Maybe, a blog about your experience of being accused of financial impropriety would be good.


I think you ask a very fair and relevant question.

Mr and Mrs Jolley had a holiday home near Larne and came to Mass at The Oratory.

They were very wealthy but had many problems. It would be wrong of me to talk about those problems but they were very complex.

I worked for them personally and also helped out at times concerning staff matters in their company.

They opened an office in Larne which was a company office but the secretary there did secretarial work for me.

Mr Jolley spotted the church in Omeath and decided to buy and renovate it at a total cost of £110,000.

I used ot for weddings and occasional Masses. The couples paid the Jolleys £200 as a hiring fee. The idea was that when the 200s paid off the cost of the church would be mine.

Eventually I could not meet Mrs Jolley’s expectations of me and she became angry with me and all assistance was withdrawn, including use of the church.

They did give me the use of a credit card with the agreement that apart from fuel, I would ask before using it. I adhered to this at all times.

Mr Jolly, now deceased, had 5 or 6 marriages.

After our fallout Mr Jolley left Mrs Jolley and married my sister. I celebrated the wedding in Dublin.

Mrs Jolley was later regretful and we became friends again. She now lives abroad.

When Mr Jolley died he left the original Mrs Jolley and my sister his millions.

The story is much more complex than described above. But I wanted to answer your question.


10.06: What an insight into your own machinations with people Pat! You know a goid trough of cash and opportunity when you see it. This story as told by you is incomplete. It is not the truth. So, you explain it to suit your narrative. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone… you remember who said these words? No harm to spy them to yourself…Whe the story of the Bishop in today’s blog is outrageius and hirrendous, morally, ethically and spirutually, I’m beginning to think that some priests, including you Pat, have total contradictions and inconsistencies around money and property. You benefit financially from people. So stop pretending that you trust only in “providence”. So do I, but I don’t earn half what you earn with services all over the country and beyond.


You are absolutely entitled to your view.

I never advertise my services. Peole contact me, often because they have been turned away by the church and priests.

I get £300 for a wedding.

I have had so church salary for 33 years.

Parishes in Ireland are charging €750 and you still have to bring your own priest.

I realise I am fortunate to have the life I have.

But it has been a 33 year struggle, especially in the early years.


Bishop Pat, Thank you for your reply. I could never expect you to tell the whole story as confidences would inevitably be broken, and there is nothing to be gained from that. Your integrity remains intact and that is what counts. I remembered that you were accused of something similar to the subject of today’s blog, but you can hold your head high. Any news of clerical changes in the northern dioceses yet?


I am not claiming to be anything special. But when many people are generous with you there can be a price to pay. I hope My Jolley is now Saint Jolley. I know Mrs Jolley is settled abroad.

And my sister is living the life of Riley 😊


Pigs, snouts, and troughs: three words that unfailingly enter my head when I think of Catholic priests (especially the so-called ‘hierarchy’) and diocesan treasuries.
Bransfield’s hedonism is not unusual among Catholic bishops, and the conduct of his fellow bishops (including the celebrated Vigano) who all received complaints about Bransfield, along with those eyebrow-raising, er, ‘gifts’, without doing much (if anything) in return is less than edifying.
I have the deepest contempt for institutional Roman Catholicism, with its colossal self-regard. But I am even more contemptuous of Roman Catholic laity (the ‘Cathbots’) who continue to fund the privileged indolence of this class of rogues.
Look around you, for heaven’s sake! When did you last see a priest poorly housed, poorly fed, without holiday abroad (or the wherewithal to do so), and driving well? If you are shocked or concerned at the extravagance of their lifestyles, you have only your stupid selves to blame.
I wouldn’t give any of these men last week’s stale bread, never mind a cash gift. And men like the odious spendthrift, Noel Treanor, incline me to want to take a sacred vow never to give ANY thing, ever again, to any one of them.


Oh, really, Vigano thought there was nothing a bit odd about him being transported in a private jet ? Really !? Wouldn’t you think that in a Church that is supposed to have a fundamental option for the poor – like Jesus Christ – one of its Papal Nuncios would think at least twice about the advisability of using a private jet to get around, wouldn’t you ? It just shows you how far removed from reality and the everyday lives of billions of people these bishops of bling have become. Even if the jet had been paid for by a benefactor – rather than Bransfield himself – surely Vilano’s antennae should have been twitching as the appropriateness of it ? These men should be living simple lives, not parroting the luxury lives of the uber rich. I am shocked, and perhaps more shocked that all this was taking place in the open air, with people knowing that vast sums of money were being spent or given away at a whim and a will with little or no accountability, and still people did not do something to question it or stop it. It mirrors the mute complicity that we have seen in the abuse crisis. People know and yet they do nothing about it. Spineless, craven, cowardly…..and lots more.
By the way, perhaps + Vinnie could decline the VIP treatment and upgrades he gets when he travels to Rome, and rather stand in line with the rest of us in the Ryanair / Easyjet line, with just his cabin baggage to save money. That way we might think about taking seriously his protestations that he is truly sorry for his mismanagement and coverup of wrongdoing by his priests. it would be a start. Then we might be inclined to forgive him, rather than him just gliding on regardless to a pleasant retirement in some grace and favour residence in Chelsea / Chiswick paid for by the Archdiocese of Westminster. Don’t be fooled that he’ll be heading for the caravan for one minute. My God, heaven forbid ! That’s for the poor people. Not for the likes of + Vinnie. And when he becomes gaga and incapacitated he will be readily taken in to some nice Catholic nursing home run by nuns and looked after, all at the expense of the Church, whilst the rest of us scurry around looking for nursing care and homes that we can barely afford, and spending all our savings and money from our property in order to live out our last years with some semblance of dignity. But, + Vinnie et al will be first in the queue for Nazareth House, without a care in the world. No question. Oh, yes, I know, he’s given his whole life to the Lord and the Church. Yeah ! You bet ! And a very nice life it has been too.


Reading this evidence of elaborate, extravagant, sinful and immoral expenditure by this Bishop makes my stomach churn. It is outrageous that, as a shepherd, a bishop, he is to be of service to all within his diocese and to give witness to God’s love and express a preference for the poor and marginalised. The shepherd must first live and be “poor in spirit” in every way. By this account this Bishop assumed a greatness to himself which had nothing to do with the simplicity of the gospel. He has lost touch with God, with the gospel, probably with prayer and faith. Who knows! However, his extravagance all over the place and to so many people is mortally damaging to a Church already weakened and shattered by clerical sexual abuses. I feel a total shame that any priest or bishop should feel the need to live a more luxurious or comfortable lifestyle than those whom they are called to serve. Yes, we need accommodation but this is beyond acceptable. It gives me thoughts today for the gospel on the Good Samaritan!


His Lordship Bishop Bransfield was Lord of his diocese. It was not his fault he was appointed to a diocese in West Virginia the poorest state in the US. His Lordship had a minor overspend in the millions. Maybe math wasn’t his strongest subject. Math was not taught in the seminary. He was on the top of his game. We need more Bishops and Priests on top of their game.


It would appear that once they assume higher office, lavish spending comes with the territory for priests. They are truly Christ betrayers, unholy men given to corruption, greed and lavishness. Their actions are an anaethma to everything Christ taught. And yet the faithful continue to bestow upon them their hard earned cash in the vain hope of redemption. This church has become a cult. It’s way past time for the whole rotten organisation to come tumbling down. Their actions are deplorable or should be to every right thinking person. Excuse my language but they are bastards for deceiving people and leading them up a garden path. Treanor isn’t the only one in Down and Connor living a lavish lifestyle . I wonder if His henchmen O’Hagan and Glover are wondering where the next penny is coming from. Also the roaming lothario Dallat is living in luxury. Hopefully his impending move to St Mary’s on the hill will curb his lifestyle.


As a matter of interest, did anyone (from curiosity if nothing else) complain to the papal nuncio about Treanor’s extravagance (all the more reprehensible since it occurred during economic recession)?
Last time I wrote to a nuncio, I didn’t receive even an acknowledgement, let alone a reply.


The Cathbots are remarkably quiet today, and it can’t be that they’re all at Mass, since many will have gone yesterday to get a lie in today. I may have spelled lie wrong but I like the result if I have.
Because this is the other side of accountability : the sheep are responsible for giving these people the means to live these extravagant lifestyles and some of them have the gall then to complain on here.
The solution is simple: stop giving the clerical Mafia money. If you have a particular priest whose ministry and values you respect, give him a store card so that you are literally feeding him.
The RC church is rich in assets but poor in cash and this will quickly bring them to heel.
Yes I am expecting the faithful to make judgement on their pastors, but that’s why the gift of discernment is given to people.


In light of all the scandals which have brought the church into such disrepute, scandals which have shaken the faith of good, loyal and generous Catholics, it is beyond fathoming how any bishop or cardinal or priest would ever feel entitled to such opulence and extravagance. Yes, by all means have a comfortable home but this expenditure in so outrageous a manner and so extreme is a great scandal. There has to be greater accountability about how money is spent. I have to run all expenditure before Parish Finance Committee before I procede with any project. That’s as it should be. I am shocked yet again..


Ah well, Father, that’s why you’ve never progressed beyond parish priest in your career in the church – obeying rules and regulations won’t get you anywhere!


Since you are “best buds”with Dermot Martin and have his personal phone number, will you ask him to publish his flight expenses in the interest of full transparency?
There is a real scandal brewing here.


There was a Catholic guy in Scotland who worked for the Inland Revenue. He noticed that his priest didn’t pay tax, didn’t submit a tax return etc, the justification being that he didn’t earn enough to pay tax. But, he lived very well, went on nice holidays, and had a spanking big new car every couple of years. So the taxman started to ask questions, and eventually it was clear that priests were receiving a lot of money and things in kind that made for a nice comfortable life, but which went under the tax radar. Whereas, the vast majority of the people who were attending Mass and contributing were doing so from income that had already been taxed, because the vast majority of them were on PAYE. And that is how priests came to be caught up, rightly, in the tax net and now have to account for their income in whatever form and pay tax like the rest of us. Although, I have no doubt that there is still a very lively envelope economy and culture which does not get declared. By any stretch of the imagination, clergy live pretty well. Even the headline figures of what they say they receive does not do justice to the myriad of hidden benefits that they can count on, not least having control of the parish cheque book and being able to put expenditure in to whatever column in the accounts that they choose to hide it. There is a lot of creative accounting that goes on, and a very lively and active grey clerical economy. Let’s say they are not JAMs (just about making it). Oh, and the clerical siesta is still alive and kicking too ! Nice !


Anonymous at 10:46:am
Thank you for such an illuminating post, I agree with all you say, and you said it very well. “Let those without sin cast the first stone” and I don’t think that applies to Patsy after these revelations.
Evviva Maria!


What about the retired archbishop of Glasgow Mario Conte. He lives in a million pound house in one of the city’s most fashionable and expensive areas. Poor old duchess. Tough old life.


MC are you really surprised the nuncio (numpty) didn’t reply. They are just as bad. They bury their heads in the sand. Truly they are despicable examples of what Christ’s teachings are about. It’s a cabal of chancers


No, I’m not at all surprised, but it would help further expose the tendency of Catholic prelates to turn a blind eye to accusations of corruption and suchlike by fellow prelates.
These men are devoid of conscience. They yield to public pressure; nothing else. But the evidence against them must first be gathered. It won’t come from the so-called ‘good priests’, since they have a vested personal stake in protecting men like Treanor.
So again, has anyone else complained about Treanor to the nuncio in Dublin?


Are these guys accountable to anyone for anything that goes on within the institutional Church in their diocese or amongst their personnel? These modern day apostolic successors have come a long way from the original apostles; from shanks mare and donkeys to private jets and first class travel! From no place to lay His head to Lords living in palaces or spending millions on their pads! Hard earned money from the laity. They’ve lost the plot, in more ways than one. Who are the big spenders this side of the pond?


Good Afternoon fly hi.
Begorra fly that may be the case with angels butt
not the case with mere mortals having feet of clay.
What about hells angels when they’re on the move hi…
Bye bye fly hi.


5.02 Right Ya can smell the exhaust. I heard hells angels do quite a bit for charity. Maybe opposites attract. Some of these god angels seem to do feque all for sod all. vroom vroom hi


Bishop Pat hi! Will you get that Magwa offa mi back hi? He’s freakin me out but with more and more weird stuff hi but hi. It’s like havin one of them kooky stalkers. And the things he’s luckin me to try for him wud make yer granny run a mile but hi. Tell him I likes the weemin ni hi Pat. I was only havin a wee experiment and ave had enough of the aul kooky stuff butt hi. It was just a silly phase a was goin through. Am not in love o no hi but.


Bishop Len and The Craggy Crew with guest artists The Purple Gang and The Three Chancerssays:

Big Spender

Written by Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields
Sung by Shirley Bassey

The minute you walked in the joint
I could see you were a man of distinction
A real Big Spender
Good looking, so refined
Say, wouldn’t you like to know what’s going on in my mind?

So let me get right to the point
I don’t pop my cork for every man I see
HEY Big Spender
Spend a little time with me

Wouldn’t you like to have fun? Fun? Fun?
How’s about a few laughs? Laughs?
I can show you a good time
Let me show you a good time

The minute you walked in the joint
I could see you were a man of distinction
A real Big Spender
Good looking, so refined
Say, wouldn’t you like to know what’s going on in my mind?

So let me get right to the point
I don’t pop my cork for every man I see

HEY Big Spender!
HEY Big spender!
Hey Big Spender!

Spend a little time with me


Hello fly hi @ 7:05pm.
So they do fly. There’ s good Samaritans among hells angels on the qt.
Looks can be deceptive.
Feque what…..You’re very polite! That’s one way of putting it.
Maybe many of the god angels have had their reward in full.
I’m outta here!
Bye bye fly hi.


I’m in a more homiletically pensive mood today than usual; not untypical of me, but not characteristic either. (Thank Heaven.😆)
Jesus’ gospel advice to store up treasure in Heaven for oneself rather than here becomes altogether more impelling in light of the seedy affair of Bransfield’s corrupt clerical networking (and, shockingly, partly financed with donations by some of the poorest Catholics in The States). What’s more, beneficiaries (‘bribees’?), like archbishops Vigano and Lori, who claimed not to have known that cash gifts (bribes?) came from the diocesan treasury (and, therefore, from the poor) will find that many consider their explanations utterly incredulous, and their conduct completely contemptible. (Shades of the ecclesial corruption just before the Protestant Reformation, and additional good reasons to keep in mind the urgency of that need for heavenly bookkeeping.)
Oddly, Raymond Cardinal Burke, another, er, ‘beneficiary’ of Bransfield’s ‘largesse’ (the level of euphemism in this divine-less comedy is breath-stopping) explained that cardinals take an oath not to accept any favours from a fellow cleric seeking personal advancement; and yet, Burke accepted cash payments anyhow (almost 10, 000 dollars in total). Of course, he had no idea that anything was ‘awry’. (Some might argue that dollar signs in one’s eyes does tend to obscure one’s vision and judgement.😕)
Vigano, Burke, et alii are being popularised (largely self-promoted, if the truth be told) as ecclesial knights in shiny moral armour riding against that absolute blaggard, Pope Francis; and their holy quest is to free the Bride of Christ from the tower of Modernism. Well, the purity of their motivation may now be called into question by very many.
I don’t know if any of you have read Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’, in particular, The Inferno. Dante here describes his idea of Hell, comprised of nine, progressively punitive cicles. The Fourth Circle is reserved for the greedy: those who ignored Jesus’ instruction not to store up wealth on Earth. In this circle, Dante placed many priests, bishops, cardinals, even popes…the very men who each had portentously proclaimed himself on earth an ‘alter Christus’.
I think Dante was on to something here.😞


7.01: While the bishops, cardinals etc…may be found in the greedy circle, I believe Magna you’d be found in the circles of violence, heresy, anger and treachery!!! Your language is often violent against others, you are in permanent anger mode, spout much heresy and you possess a treachery to all Catholic truths and teachings. So, yes, Dante is on to something – for all of us…you included. Magna, did St. Paul not say – we will each be judged according to the life we live….So, don’t be so smugly arrogant. You may yet be found screaming for mercy (from God) so as to avoid the Inferno…..


‘Heresy’ comes from the Greek word ‘heretikos’. It does not mean ‘untruthfulness’, but ‘ability to choose’.
I ‘ve left you intellectually far behind, haven’t I priest?


It’s not clear that his donations to others did, in fact come from the poor. It’s alleged he reimbursed himself from a particular source of money – a plot of land in Texas, under which oil was discovered.

An interesting question is why did Bransfeld continue to make gifts to the nuncio after his appointment as bishop.


Which is why, 11:18, I clearly stated ‘partly financed with donations by some of the poorest Catholics in The States’.

JC! Can’t you people read?


I read Cardinal Winning’s biography today. Good read. Without doubt a man who fought for the faith and for what he believed. Different times now of course and he spoke out when others didn’t bother to. I wonder what he’d think about the state of the Scottish Church today. Met him twice. Real presence about him and a good holy and prayerful man. RIP Fr Tom. Amen.


The Cardinal made mistakes but like Bishop Devine he stood up for the Faith and he will be not at rest in the Cathedral crypt given the fact that Bishop John Keenan is wearing his ring.

Bishop John Keenan is out of his diocese this week as he is away to Courage Conference.

Can you honestly see any of the other of the old Scottish Bishops going to Courage.

Cardinal Nichols made Quest leave the Church now it is Courage.

So far I think only two diocese in UK and Ireland have Courage that being Motherwell and Paisley both Bishops Devine and Mone will be spinning in their graves.


Guys you are all sitting trying to throw bricks constantly at the Church and it looks like you are all lapsed and the forgotten crew.

The Bishop and Down and Connor spent a lot of money yes but it is also the Diocesan offices as things have changed most diocese have a large pool of lay staff work in the diocese and therefore need the correct accommodation.

Every diocese has a diocesan finance committee and every parish should have one as well so the days of the Parish Priest having the cheque book have well gone.

Most diocese have sage accounting online to HQ every week.

Most parish finance committees can spend up to ten thousand anything over must go to the diocesan finance team.

As for + Conti the oaks is not worth a million pounds and the Archdiocese of Glasgow like most dioceses have a large property chest and investments.


This is a Cathbot giving the party line that everything is fine. ‘Most dioceses…’ this, that and the other. And it would be OK except that it does not account (ha!) for the events in the post above. None of the safeguards worked in this case. Can I also point out that we have a papal nuncio who thinks nothing of a private plane being used by clergy?
In addition nobody thought anything of the exchange of bribes, sorry, monetary gifts, until it became convenient to forget all about them.
Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.


No. They throw bricks at themselves. We merely point out the fact.
Treanor refused to disclose HOW much money he spent, not just on his offices (That’s a strawman.), but , by any reasonable standard, inexcusably extravagant amounts on his home. His coyness here suggests that estimates of the expenditure (up to four million pounds) were probably quite reliable.
Moreover, Treanor’s explanation that he had done it all ‘for the next guy’ would have seemed implausibly selfless, in fact, entirely risible.
One more thing, his spokesperson(s) engaged in what I believe was mental reservation. When publicly challenged by a tabloid about the expenditure, it was stated that Treanor had received two grants of money from the Stormont administration, the inference most people might make being that these had covered the cost of the work. This is highly unlikely.
The lack of transparency in this matter and the misleading statement about grants of money do not put Treanor in a good light, nor the ‘good priests’ of Down and Connor, none of whom (to my knowledge) publicly criticised this extravagance and opulence. In fact, the entire sorry spectacle makes your desperate apologia look just as pathetic.


Paul @ 8:22pm
What makes you say …’lapsed and the forgotten crew’?
Are people supposed, or expected, to keep their mouths shut out of loyalty, or what?
The Bransfield case is as scandalous as they come, with regards finance.
The fact of the matter at this stage is, the hierarchy and clergy, cannot be trusted.
How many more Uncle Ted’s are among the upper echelons of the hierarchy?
God only knows.


Give poor + Bransfield a bit of a break. How could any sane man be the administrator for years at the very ugly national shrine without losing all sense of due proportion? Can you imagine how often he lusted in his heart to be the dean of Washington Cathedral? And then ending up in a place like West Virginia?
Alas, we all have done those things which we ought not to have done…


I don’t know the present value of the Archbishops House in Glasgow at Newlands. I would imagine you wouldn’t get much change from £1m. However, a house of that size, Fr P Murray said earlier 9 rooms, is far too big for one man. It’s obscene and an affront to the child in the manger.


12.08: Your heresy Magna has nithing to do with ability to choose, presuming truth, but with choosing to desecrate and demonize all things Catholic. Magna, you’ll feel quite at home in hell! You’ll be in esteemed company. You are HELL.


This comment Anon @ 1:55, is very typical of how the RC church held the uneducated unquestioning faithful laity in a state of dependent submission for hundreds of years : “Believe us; follow our commands, or you’ll burn in Hell!”
Fortunately things have changed. Many of us are no longer cowed into believing the utter tosh the RC church promotes.
It’s appropriate here to quote a few lines from the song, “I Ain’t Afraid”, as sung by Roy Bailey, right up to shortly before his death, and he believed every word he sang:
I ain’t afraid of your Yahweh.
I ain’t afraid of your Allah.
I ain’t afraid of your Jesus.
I’m afraid of what you do in the name of your God.

Rise up to the Higher Power.
Free up from fear; it will devour
Watch out for the ego of the hour
The ones who say they know it,
are the ones who will impose it.



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