PopeWatch: Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

Phil Lawler at Catholic Culture exposes the episcopal shell game going on in West Virginia:

Archbishop Willian Lori of Baltimore led the investigation into Bransfield’s misdeeds, and might have emerged as a hero in the case, except that he tried to conceal the list of prelates who were recipients of Bransfield’s largesse, and his own name turned up on that list. Instead of resolving questions about the West Virginia diocese, the Lori investigation raised troubling new questions about the “envelope culture” in which bishops make gifts to their colleagues and superiors out of diocesan coffers.

Bishop Bransfield was a protégé of the disgraced Theodore McCarrick. Before his assignment to Wheeling, he had served in Washington, DC, under McCarrick, as rector of the National Shrine. He succeeded McCarrick as president of the Papal Foundation: an organization that is also the focus of sharp questioning about cozy relationships and financial improprieties. At the Papal Foundation—and previously at the National Shrine—he also worked with Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who succeeded McCarrick as Archbishop of Washington. Cardinal Wuerl, too, has subsequently resigned under a cloud.

So to recap:

  • American Catholics were angered by revelations of financial misconduct in the Wheeling diocese.
  • The culprit (Bransfield) had a history of cronyism, and had given large cash gifts to Lori, McCarrick, and Wuerl—thereby creating the impression (accurate or not) that they were all involved in the same network of cronies.

Under the circumstances, it would have made sense to appoint a new bishop of Wheeling who had absolutely no ties to any of the figures involved in the situation of that troubled dioceses. Bring in a priest of unquestioned integrity, from some distant part of the country. Pull a monk out of his cloister somewhere. Find a new broom to sweep clean.

Instead the Vatican chose Bishop Brennan, who is closely connected with all of the players named above. He is reportedly a favorite of Cardinal Wuerl; in Baltimore he has been a deputy of Archbishop Lori. Earlier he served as a priest in Washington, under McCarrick and alongside Bransfield. He knows them all well. Maybe he can be impartial; I hope so. But at this point he can’t possibly look impartial.

Go here to read the rest.  The Church is led by gangsters who have only contempt for the Laity.


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  1. Unless a particular monk knows how to deal with crooks and is willing to crack heads (figuratively speaking), making him
    a bishop isn’t gonna help matters.

    The clique culture that exists in many Catholic circles, especially amongst bishops, needs to be called out for the cancer it is and then properly treated.

    Sadly, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

  2. “Gangsters” is almost being too kind. What is crystal clear is that those in power hold the sheep in absolute contempt. This starts with the communist at the top. Nothing will change until he and his ilk are out of power.

  3. In Frankenchurch, the fish rots from the head down. Cannot help but think, however, that the social process which generates episcopal appointment is responsive to politicking by rancid little cliques which have been in formation for some time. A vector influencing the results is the quality of your ordained clergy. This Bp. Brennan was in seminary ca. 1971 along side some of the priest corps’ worst cohorts.

  4. Given Brennan’s age, he clearly has to be something of a placeholder for a few years. But then perhaps they couldn’t find any acceptable clique candidates who were any younger?

  5. Honestly: If you could force the immediate removal of every single bishop in America today, and replace them all with priests under age 40 with at least five years of experience as pastors, selected entirely at random, is there really any doubt that the morality, character, and orthodoxy of the U.S. episcopate would increase leaps and bounds?

    We’d lose a few good ones, sure. But I’m thinking that we have reached a point where only a clean sweep will give any chance for reform for the Church in America.

  6. Richard:
    Yes, I’ve pretty much reached the William Buckley phonebook idea of church governance. How could it be worse?

  7. I am with Richard M. Could not be any worse than the lavender mafia running things now and saying ‘climate change’ is the focus of Christ’s Church.

  8. is there really any doubt that the morality, character, and orthodoxy of the U.S. episcopate would increase leaps and bounds?

    My guess is that 1/3 of the episcopate would be orthodox Catholic and about 30% would be ‘Jungians, Unitarians, and goofies’ as Fr. Joseph Wilson put it. Not sure about other matters, such as administrative ability. I think you’d get fewer skeevy institutional politicians than you do right now.

    My understanding of how bishops are selected is that a list of is generated from cross consultations in the province, presided over by the metropolitan which is then filtered by the nuncio which is filtered again by the Congregation of Bishops, with the Pope choosing from a list of three. You have 3,000 dioceses, so I doubt any pope can devote much thought to any particular appointment. Cannot help but note that some real ringers weren’t ordinary bishops, but metropolitans and red hats. (Cdls. McCarrick, Cupich, Wuerl, Law, Madeiros, Mahoney, Egan; Abps. Lori, Curtis, Sheehan).

  9. The Church is led by gangsters who have only contempt for the Laity

    In the almost 2000 year history of the Church, there’s nothing particularly new about that fact. We’ve been here before, and we’ve gotten through this before. The serpent’s head is crushed and the gates of hell shall not prevail.

  10. There have been heretics and schismatics in positions of authority before.

    I’m not trying to be dismissive or blase about the present crisis; just trying to point out that this isn’t a crisis of unprecedented proportions and a total disaster for the Church.

    And if it turns out I’m totally off-base, and The Great Apostasy and the End of Days really are upon us, shouldn’t that be a cause for rejoicing?

  11. “There have been heretics and schismatics in positions of authority before.”

    Nothing like this Pope and his merry gang of heretics. This is unprecedented, and I know the history of the Church well enough to make that statement.

  12. Well then, I respectfully suggest you don’t know the history of the Christological controversies as well as you think you do.

    I’ll concede that the modernist not- believing- what- you- profess-to- believe- angle makes the present crisis different from previous ones.

  13. “Well then, I respectfully suggest you don’t know the history of the Christological controversies as well as you think you do.”

    Yes I do. Pope Honorius is Pope Francis on one of his good days. I do not sugar coat the past of the Church. We have had popes who were monsters of vice and crime, and we have no evidence that the Pope is in that category. We have had schisms with multiple popes and anti-popes. All that was horrendous, but we made it through. But when it comes to dallying with heresy I can think of no Pope who compares with him. The Church will survive the current pontificate, but the damage he is inflicting will be long lasting I fear.

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