Bishop Michael Bransfield resigns; sexual harassment investigation launched

Lester Mason
September 14, 2018

The McCarrick affair - coupled with revelations in the Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing decades of abuse and cover-up in six dioceses, including Allentown - has fueled outrage among the rank-and-file faithful who had trusted church leaders to reform themselves after the abuse scandal first erupted in Boston in 2002.

In a more recent letter addressed to the priests of Washington, D.C., Wuerl indicated that he intends, "in the very near future, to go to Rome to meet with our Holy Father about the resignation I presented almost three years ago, November 12, 2015".

Last week, one protester yelled "shame on you" at him, and another turned her back during a service. "This action on my part is an essential aspect of the healing so that this archdiocesan Church we all love can move forward".

Wuerl, who was bishop of Pittsburg for some 18 years, offered to resign almost three years ago when he turned 75 but Francis hasn't accepted it.

"In these times, it seems like the "Great Accuser" [a reference to Satan] has been unchained and is attacking bishops", Pope Francis said.

The Vatican said Francis accepted his resignation yesterday, announcing the decision at the exact moment the USA delegation was arriving at the Apostolic Palace for the meeting. At issue is how to begin effectively to bring a new level of healing to survivors who have personally suffered so much and to the faithful entrusted to our care who have also been wounded by the shame of these bad actions and have questions about their bishop's ability to provide the necessary leadership.

The report cited 301 priests, clergy and lay teachers with credible allegations of child sexual abuse against them.

The decision to investigate Bishop Michael Bransfield comes amid an abuse crisis in the US Church that is now focusing on misconduct by bishops.

Earlier this year, Francis admitted to "grave errors in judgment", when he at first repeatedly discredited sex abuse victims and the claims they had made against a Chilean predator priest.


Wuerl has also been embroiled in the allegations of molestation leveled at former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. McCarrick, who has denied the accusations about the altar boy and not responded to the allegations about the seminarians, resigned from his position in July.

"This is all the more exasperating, since not even the members of the German bishops' conference so far know the entire study", he added.

The current Washington Cardinal has remained adamant he had no idea until recently. And the report says that in several instances, church files documenting abuse have been altered or destroyed.

The Vatican said Wednesday the heads of the national Catholic bishops' conferences would meet with Francis from February 21 to 24.

Francis' key cardinal advisers announced the decision Wednesday, a day before Francis meets with United States church leaders, who are facing fresh accusations following the bombshell grand jury report.

After launching a "season of healing" in the archdiocese on 14 September, the cardinal explained to his priests that "in the very near future" he plans "to meet with our Holy Father about the resignation I presented almost three years ago, November 12, 2015".

In the 11-page statement published on 26 August, Vigano, the former Vatican ambassador to Washington, launched an unprecedented broadside by a church insider against the pope and a long list of Vatican and U.S. church officials.

The private meeting held in the tiny state's Apostolic Palace included the three top officials from the body that runs the U.S. Catholic Church, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: Cardinal Daniel Di Nardo, the president, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, deputy president, and Monsignor Brian Bransfield, secretary general.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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