07/17/19 – Financial Stewardship Update (.pdf) – A letter from Archbishop Lori
Wheeling-Charleston Apostolic Administrator Archbishop William Lori Announces Personnel Changes
Wheeling, W.Va.—Acting in his capacity as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Archbishop William E. Lori today announced the following personnel changes involving officials of the Chancery. Monsignor Frederick Annie resigned as Vicar General of the Diocese in September and has been assigned as Assistant Priest in Residence at St. Mary, Star City Parish in Morgantown. Monsignor Anthony Cincinnati resigned today as Vicar for Clergy and will continue serving as Pastor of St. Francis De Sales Parish in Morgantown. Monsignor Kevin Quirk resigned today as Judicial Vicar and Rector of the Cathedral of St. Joseph and further announced his decision to step down from his position on the Board of Directors at Wheeling Jesuit University and Wheeling Hospital. Monsignor Quirk will serve as a Priest in Residence at Mater Dolorosa (Paden City) and St. Vincent De Paul (New Martinsville) Parishes and Holy Rosary (Sistersville) and St. Joseph (Proctor) Missions, where he will assist Administrator Rev. Brian J. Crenwelge in his pastoral duties. Father Crenwelge will also serve as Interim Director of Vocations for the Diocese. Archbishop Lori also announced the following personnel actions: Father James DeViese Jr., J.C.L., will assume the responsibilities of the Judicial Vicar on an interim basis and oversee the Office of the Tribunal, while continuing in his role as Pastor of St. Patrick (Weston) and St. Boniface (Camden) Parishes and Good Shepherd Mission in Glenville. Monsignor Joseph Peterson, currently Pastor of St. Michael Parish in Wheeling, will serve as Interim Rector of St. Joseph Cathedral and Reverend Carlos Melocoton Jr. will serve as Pastor of St. Michael. Fr. Dennis Schuelkens will serve as Interim Director of Clergy Personnel while continuing as Pastor of St. Joseph the Worker and Sacred Heart Parishes in Weirton. Mr. Lawrence Bandi, President of Central Catholic High School in Wheeling will serve as the Archbishop’s representative to Wheeling Hospital. The Archbishop will soon appoint his representative to Wheeling Jesuit University. “I am grateful to all of these individuals and to my brother priests for their hard work and dedicated service to the Church, especially in these challenging times,” Archbishop Lori said. The personnel changes announced today take effect immediately.
STATEMENT OF THE DIOCESE OF WHEELING-CHARLESTON
The Diocese learned from media sources today that the Attorney General of the State of West Virginia has filed a responsive pleading in the Circuit Court of Wood County, West Virginia. The new pleading is in response to the Diocese’s own motion to dismiss the Attorney General’s complaint, as submitted last month. The new allegations filed today contain factual inaccuracies that are not included in the Attorney General’s prior complaint but which are, however, based in large part on information that the Diocese previously provided the Attorney General’s office. In the strongest terms, we deny the allegation that initial background checks were not conducted on school employees, as the amended complaint contends. We can only surmise that the Attorney General’s office has not thoroughly reviewed the information which has been provided by Diocesan officials to his office. As noted previously in the Diocese’s motion to dismiss the Attorney General’s lawsuit, it is our view that the West Virginia Consumer Credit Protection Act does not pertain to issues outlined in the complaint, and that the action is outside the jurisdiction of the Attorney General. As legal counsel for the Diocese has made clear, we categorically reject the lawsuit’s assertion that the Diocese is not wholly committed to the protection of children, as reflected in our rigorous Safe Environment Program. The Diocese has a zero tolerance policy for any cleric, employee or volunteer credibly accused of abuse and it is the policy of the Diocese to report any accusation of this nature immediately to civil authorities. Moreover, the Safe Environment Program of the Diocese employs mandatory screening, extensive background checks and training for all employees and volunteers who work with children. Diocesan policy may be accessed at the following website: https://dwc.org/diocese/offices/office-of-safe-environment/diocesan-policy/
Statement from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston
The Diocese learned from media sources today that the Attorney General of the State of West Virginia, filed a civil lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Wood County, West Virginia, alleging that the Diocese has violated the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act. The Complaint is based in part on information included in the Diocese’s November 2018 public disclosure of clergy credibly accused of child sexual abuse and on other information provided by the Diocese to the Attorney General over the past five months. The November disclosure by the Diocese contains details concerning both the dates of the alleged occurrences and the dates they were actually reported to the Diocese, which in many cases were decades later. Further, some of the allegations of misconduct contained in the Attorney General’s Complaint occurred more than 50 years ago and some are not accurately described. The Diocese will address the litigation in the appropriate forum. However, the Diocese strongly and unconditionally rejects the Complaint’s assertion that the Diocese is not wholly committed to the protection of children, as reflected in its rigorous Safe Environment Program, the foundation of which is a zero tolerance policy for any cleric, employee or volunteer credibly accused of abuse. The Program employs mandatory screening, background checks and training for all employees and volunteers who work with children. The Diocese also does not believe that the allegations contained in the Complaint fairly portray its overall contributions to the education of children in West Virginia nor fairly portray the efforts of its hundreds of employees and clergy who work every day to deliver quality education in West Virginia.
Archbishop Announces Completion of Preliminary Investigation of Allegations Against Bishop Michael Bransfield and Imposes Ministerial Restrictions
On September 13, 2018, the Holy See announced the retirement of Michael J. Bransfield as Bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston in West Virginia and appointed Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori as Apostolic Administrator of Wheeling-Charleston, with a mandate to conduct a preliminary investigation into allegations of sexual harassment of adults and financial improprieties by Bishop Bransfield. The preliminary investigation, which took place over five months, was conducted by Archbishop Lori with the assistance of a team of five lay experts. The investigative team examined multiple allegations of sexual harassment of adults and financial improprieties. It involved interviews with more than 40 individuals, including Bishop Bransfield. The investigation has now been completed and will be sent to the Holy See for final judgment. At the request of those who provided testimony, victims will not be identified, nor will details of their personal accounts be disclosed. “Pending the assessment of the findings of the Holy See, as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, I have directed that Bishop Bransfield is not authorized to exercise any priestly or episcopal ministry within the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston,” Archbishop Lori said. “I have further directed the Diocese to implement a third-party reporting system for any sexual or financial impropriety on the part of its bishop, clergy, religious and lay employees and volunteers.” The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston is committed to providing counseling to any who may have been harmed, including clergy, religious and lay personnel. They are urged by the Diocese to contact the Safe Environment Office at (833) 230-5656. “I apologize to any who have suffered harm and express my gratitude to the five men and women who conducted the investigation, as well as to those who participated in this difficult process,” the Archbishop said. “It is my privilege to serve the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston as the journey toward healing begins anew and as we anticipate the appointment of a new bishop.” Media Contacts: Archdiocese of Baltimore Sean Caine 410-547-5378 (office) 443-857-4372 (cell) Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston Tim Bishop 304-233-0880 (office) 304-312-0332 (cell)
Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston Releases List of Priests Credibly Accused of Abuse Against Minors (Updated 5/21/19)
WHEELING, W.Va.—The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston has released the names of clergy who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors as it pertains to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People set forth by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002 and the diocese’s own policy on sexual abuse in place since 1985. The list dates back to approximately 1950, which is the period for which there are reasonably reliable files. More than 2,000 files were reviewed, containing tens of thousands of documents. The release of the list is part of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston’s ongoing commitment to transparency in addition to helping aid in the process of reconciliation and healing for the faithful of West Virginia. “We hope the release of this list,” said Archbishop William E. Lori, Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, “will be one of many steps taken to restore trust with parishioners and the broader community in West Virginia. We hope people see the release of this list as a sign of good faith that the diocese is committed to transparency, accountability and to providing a safe environment for children and adults. As we continue to pray for all victims of sexual abuse, let us also recommit ourselves to do everything we can to ensure the protection of all who are entrusted to our care.” The list includes the names of credibly accused clergy from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and credibly accused priests from other regions or Dioceses who have served within the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, but for which no claims have been filed in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. A “credible” accusation means there is reasonable cause to believe that an offense has occurred considering all factors—time, place, age of the parties, background and history available, personnel files, and any other pertinent facts. The list does not include those cases where an accusation was not credible—meaning an accusation which, after review by law enforcement and/or other civil, lay, and church officials, was not supported by evidence or there is no reasonable probability that the accused committed sexual abuse of a child. The released list does not differentiate between criminal or non-criminal misconduct committed by priests of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, rather it refers specifically to violations of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. Some of the claims do not involve criminal conduct as determined by public authorities or do not involve actual physical contact with the victims, such as soliciting, nonetheless, they are considered violations of the Charter. The list does not purport to address matters that might involve immorality or illegality that were not sex abuse cases involving minors, that is those under age 18. The list was developed with the assistance of outside counsel and was reviewed by the Diocesan Lay Review Board, to include an in-depth examination of the facts and documentation for each case. The board is comprised of lay members with an array of professional experience, including child and adolescent health care, the treatment of abuse survivors, and human resources. Board members volunteer and function independently of the Diocese. Although this list is exhaustive and comprehensive as it relates to the Charter at this time and in its present form, the Diocese reserves the right to update the list should more information become available as time goes on. “This list undoubtedly reveals the failings of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston to fully protect young people within the Church,” Archbishop Lori said. “Rightly, many have a cause for anger and pain. I offer my sincerest apologies to all victims of sexual abuse and vow to strive to take proper action to ensure the safety of children and others in our care.” The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston remains committed to the protection of children and young people. A hotline has been created to aid anyone who wishes to report cases of sexual abuse by clergy, staff or volunteers in the Diocese. We encourage anyone who may be a victim of any abuse by any member of the Church to contact your local civil authorities and the Office of Safe Environment for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston by calling a newly set-up Sexual Abuse Hotline at 1-833-230-5656. All calls to the hotline will be answered by staff members equipped to properly document details of abuse and direct callers to victim’s assistance if required. Credible Clergy Complaints 1950 to Present (sixth version 05-21-19 at 9.15 a.m.) Revised May 21, 2019 at 9:15 am Credible Clergy Complaints in Other Diocese (fifth version 05-21-19 9.15 a.m.) Revised May 21, 2019 at 9:15 am