WTRF Top 10 Stories of 2019: #3 New bishop for Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston

WTRF TOP TEN of 2019

WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – One of WTRF’s biggest stories of 2019 impacted Catholics all across the state of West Virginia. 

After more than a year of tumultuous revelations, the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston welcomed its new leader. However, the transgressions of the former Bishop still loom as current Bishop Mark E. Brennan continues his quest to make a positive difference in the diocese. 

This is a day for which we have long prayed.

Archbishop of Baltimore William E. Lori

On a late-August day those words were spoken from the pulpit at the Cathedral of St. Joseph by Archbishop William E. Lori, who had been serving as Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

Hundreds were packed into the church, and more watched at home, as Bishop Mark E. Brennan was installed as the ninth Bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. He is now the leader of nearly 75,000 Catholics across the Mountain State and 95 parishes. 

In an exclusive interview with 7News at the time, he shared his vision to pull the diocese from despair and has continued to try and fulfill his mission of traveling the state. 

We can’t just stay in the past. We have to acknowledge it and deal with it, but we also have to go forward. We have to more forward. The good news of Jesus Christ we have to proclaim that in word and deed here. 

Bishop Mark E. Brennan, Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston

Looming over the Diocese efforts to move forward were continued accusations against former Bishop Michael Bransfield who resigned in 2018.

Those included allegations of sexual harassment and a report that he used $21 million from Wheeling Hospital for a “Bishop’s Fund”

Bishop Brennan was to oversee how the former bishop would make amends and late this year he announced his plans.

Bransfield would have to apologize to the adults he was found to have sexually harassed as well as the Catholic faithful of the diocese. Among other punishments, he was also ordered to pay nearly $800,000 in financial restitution. 

He’s not the devil incarnate. He’s a brother who’s gone astray in some ways.

Bishop Mark E. Brennan, Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston

Since those amends were announced last month, the Washington Post released a 60-page document detailing the investigation into former Bishop Bransfield. 

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