According to leaked copies of the report filed by Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore after an investigation into charges of sexual and financial misconduct against Bishop Michael Bransfield, the former bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia lived a lavish lifestyle while leading the diocese in one of the country’s poorest states.
Bransfield reportedly spent $100 a day for fresh flowers for the chancery office, $1,000 a month on alcohol for his house, and $4.6 million renovating the house after there was a fire in one of the bathrooms.
One copy of the report listed the names of many prelates who received checks from Bransfield totalling $350,000 during his thirteen year tenure as bishop. But, the report filed with the authorities in Rome by Lori omitted the names of the priests and bishops receiving the checks, including that of Lori himself. The archbishop received a total of $10,500 according to the report that included the names.
The report alleges that Bransfield wrote the checks from his personal account but was later reimbursed by the diocese. Most of the recipients of the checks, including Lori, Youngstown Bishop George Murry, and Cardinal Donald Wuerl said the checks were honoraria for talks given in the West Virginia diocese or gifts on the occasion of an anniversary. Cardinal Kevin Farrell received a check for help renovating an apartment in Rome after he was assigned there in 2016. All said they had no idea Bransfield was being reimbursed and they pledged to return the money to the diocese.
The diocese was given property in Texas in 1904 that yielded about $15 million a year in oil revenues in recent years.