Diocese doing right thing with audit
It’s clear the scars left by the tumultuous tenure of former Wheeling-Charleston Diocese bishop Michael Bransfield will take years to heal; however, two actions taken this month by the Most Rev. Mark Brennan, current Diocesan bishop, to be more open with the faithful will go a long way to closing those wounds.
First, Brennan announced the re-constitution of the Diocesan Pastoral Council, which will help him develop priorities for the church. The council, established in 1968, stopped meeting in 2006, shortly after Bransfield’s arrival in Wheeling.
“You can’t go wrong involving the laypeople,” Diocesan spokesman Tim Bishop said. “It’s their church, too. … Getting them involved and seeking their help and running ideas by them is a great thing.”
That’s absolutely correct, and Brennan’s move to create additional links between the Diocese and its parishioners is commendable.
Second, the day after Brennan’s Pastoral Council announcement, the diocese released its fiscal 2019-20 financial report.
The audit details the diocese’s current assets and liabilities and comes following pressure from groups such as Catholic Lay Voices for Change for the diocese to be more open with its books. The 68-page Bransfield Report also urged annual audits be conducted and released.
Bransfield, during his 13 years in Wheeling, spent millions on himself for travel, jewelry, and renovations to his properties. He also gifted local diocesan funds to a handful of influential church leaders.
The moves by Brennan continue to show that he is charting a new course for the church in West Virginia. That will go a long way toward allying concerns many have expressed on the church’s future.