WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – New allegations have risen in the ongoing investigation of former Bishop Michael Bransfield. According to tax records, $21 million from Wheeling Hospital was directed to a “Bishop’s Fund.”

Bransfield stated that the purpose of the fund was to help West Virginia residents.

The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston has since responded to the recent findings of the investigation.

As the Diocese has previously stated, the five-month investigation into former Bishop Michael Bransfield’s activities confirmed his egregious misuse of diocesan funds for personal benefit, in addition to his unacceptable abusive behavior toward seminarians and young priests.  Accepting that report, Pope Francis imposed harsh penalties against the former Bishop, including the requirement to make amends for some of the harm he caused to individual Catholics and to the Diocese as a whole.  These amends are to be determined in consultation with Bishop Mark E. Brennan, who now serves the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston as its chief pastor.

Bishop Brennan takes seriously the role Pope Francis has given him in this matter and has already initiated the required consultation with Bishop Bransfield.  Bishop Brennan’s goal is to arrive at an appropriate amends plan soon and to communicate the plan to the Holy Father and to the Catholic faithful.

Already in place are newly strengthened policies and procedures governing diocesan finances.  Earlier this year the Diocese took steps to dissolve the Bishop’s Fund.  Bishop Brennan is firmly committed to faithful stewardship of the Diocese’s resources and to ensuring rigorous controls in their use for the vital ministries the Catholic Church carries out throughout the State of West Virginia.

Tim Bishop, Director of Marketing and Communications for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston