Bishop of Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston resigns amid sexual allegations

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It appeared to happen suddenly.

Bishop Michael Bransfield resigned Saturday.

His resignation was announced by Pope Francis at 6 a.m. Thursday.

Bransfield has left the area.

“Right now Bishop Bransfield has been instructed to live outside the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston pending the outcome of the investigation,” said Tim Bishop, Spokesperson for the Diocese.

Archbishop William Lori is named apostolic administrator of this diocese, while still being the Archbishop of Baltimore.

“So he will oversee the day-to-day operations of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston as well as head the investigation into the allegations of sexual harassment of adults by Bishop Bransfield,” Tim Bishop noted.

People wanted to know what would happen to the facilities –including an athletic complex and a brand new continuous care center–that bear Bransfield’s name.

“That is a decision that will be made by the archbishop and the apostolic administrator,” said Tim Bishop. “He effectively runs the diocese from today going forward, until a successor bishop is named, and so that decision is his alone to make.”

Tim Bishop said the daily operations of churches, schools and outreach centers will not change.

And help is available to those who need it.

“We have made available counseling,” he said, “Any member of the diocesan staff that needs that, we have made that available to them.”

Bishop said the naming of a new bishop could take anywhere from 48 hours to three years.

In the meantime, he offered this advice.

“One of the most important things we can do right now is hold each other up in prayer,” he said.

A hotline has been established for those wishing to share information related to the sexual harassment investigation.

That number is (833) 272-4225.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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