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Saturday, September 8, 2018

Bishop Bransfield and the Strategy of Silence: Nothing to see here, folks, move along!

Good job, Mike. Focus on the silence strategy.
And use your influence to shut up  all those
loud-mouthed bishops calling for investigations.
Get your lawyer on it. He knows how to do it!
My husband is from Wheeling so what happens in the Diocese of Wheeling Charleston always catches my eye. After 48 years of marriage and countless visits to Warwood, the suburb that nurtured my husband and his faith, the area holds a special place in my heart. I can't count the number of Masses, marriages, baptisms, etc. we attended at Corpus Christi. If I close my eyes I can walk up the aisle to "our spot" in the nave and watch the priest come out of the sacristy for daily Mass. I walk out the back of the church and see the park across the street and the "new" church hall on the corner where we attended many festivities and parish events. Down the street I can see the old men's home where Larry's dad spent the last years of his life.

What happens to the Church family in Wheeling, which includes many of Larry's family, my dear in-laws, matters a lot to me. So I was interested to read the email I received below about a meeting in Wheeling held a few days ago to discuss the abuse crisis with concerned laity.

Sadly, in many places, Church leaders depend more on diocesan lawyers than on the Holy Spirit. That is apparently the case in Wheeling, led by a bishop whose first order of business on taking over a diocese filled with blue collar workers laid off from the steel mills was to spend over a million dollars feathering his own resident nest. Oh but he cares about the poor!...Proof? He wrote a pastoral letter about children raised in poverty and committed $100,000 in grants to alleviate it. One of the definitions of poverty he mentioned in the letter was that the poor "cannot afford housing that is clean, safe, and in good repair. "Ironic, eh... he spent TEN TIMES the grant for the poor to upgrade his own personal residence with its $40,000 wine fridge and working fireplaces in every room. But, hey, bishops work hard and deserve a little comfort and the Church in Wheeling has big bucks, I'm told. Charity begins at home after all.

I had to read the bishop's pastoral with a barf bag in hand.  How can anyone take this man seriously? Then there's his practice of promoting a number of priests who, what can I say, are a little light in the loafers? But we all know, right, that the sex abuse crisis had NOTHING to do with sodomite priests and bishops. It was about clericalism, dontcha know! Just ask Cardinal McCarrick and his buddies Wuerl, Cupich, and Farrell.

Anyway, here is the email from a meeting attendee who was less than impressed with the openness and transparency displayed by the diocesan lawyer:
 Yesterday, Mr. James Gardill, the attorney for the Catholic Diocese of Wheeling Charleston, used all his professional rhetorical skills to downplay the recent allegations of sexual abuse in the Church. Appearing at a facilitated discussion on the abuse crisis held at the Angelus Center of St. Michael Parish, Mr. Gardill tried to sway the audience with the classic “us and them” propaganda technique. 
Nice photo for Bransfiels's pastoral!
Politicians love to use children to
show how much they care. Ditto for
Church politicians!
Our Church, according to Mr. Gardill, is under attack from an alliance of “the media” and the “plaintiff’s bar”--an excellent choice of scapegoats on Mr. Gardill’s part. Laypeople who demand accountability from those responsible for proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ are simply helping this mob attack the Church. After all, says Mr. Gardill, sometimes accusations against priests turn out to be false. You know, the allegations of the Pennsylvania grand jury, the product of two years of work by randomly-selected citizens, haven’t been formally proven in the court of law. (Nor can they be, because of the statute of limitations.) If we let “the media” win, dioceses will go bankrupt! [These folks care more about protecting diocesan ass-ets than about protecting the children!]

A few other diocesan staff appeared on the panel to talk about policies and procedures set up to stop sexual abuse. It sounded like there were some good policies, but frankly, I didn’t pay too much attention--I was too busy fuming over Mr. Gardill’s professionally constructed sophistry, and the fact that it was employed in the name of the Church commissioned by Jesus to baptize nations in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. After all, we can hardly declare the sexual abuse problem “fixed” as long as the Church does not proclaim the Gospel by setting an example of contrition and repentance, but rather sends lawyers to offer heels-dug-in defenses of the Church hierarchy.

After a time for group discussion, the microphone was passed to each table for a question for the panel. Mr. Gardill continued to defend his client against probing questions from the audience. Still, all of us at our table were of the same sentiments: we thought that, as one of my companions at the table put it, the attorney was simply doing “damage control.” I volunteered to ask our question. It was something like this:

“Thank you. Let me read the statement that the president of the United States Conference of Catholics Bishops has made about this issue: ‘As a body of bishops, we are shamed by and sorry for the sins and omissions by Catholic priests and Catholic bishops.’ We at our table are wondering just what there is to be ashamed of and sorry for. What the bishops are saying sounds different from the rhetoric coming from the attorney for the Diocese. He is making it sound like it’s a matter of a media mob attacking the Church. Well, if it’s just a case of a run on the bank or a media mob, what’s there to be ashamed about? So we’d like to have that question answered.”

I sat down. The discussion moderator turned to the panel and asked, “Would anyone from the panel like to respond to that?”

A few seconds pass. ["Anyone?...anyone?...Bueller?"...Deafening silence.]

 “No? All right, next question.” [Ah yes, they are taking the pope's admonition to "be silent" seriously. Does anyone believe this group really wants change? They are circling the wagons and attacking the messengers -- those pesky orthodox Catholics demanding answers who are nothing but a mob hurting the Church. ] 

Grumbles from some members of the audience. “No answer to that?” “Ha! Well, how can there be?” My only response, which I uttered just loud enough to remain within the bounds of a certain decorum: “Wow.”

some replies:

Thank you for this. I was disgusted by Gardill, and so was everyone at my table too. I was proud of you for your focused question that was so revealing of this diocese’s lack of accountability. 🙏🏼

Sent from my iPhone Good for you, your response was perfect. I would have been outraged also.
Yes indeed, the strategy in Wheeling Charleston is circle the wagons, attack the messenger, and call out the lawyers. Why am I not surprised?


  1. The method of an abuser is to add to their ally corral against the object of their hatred. Power and success is in having more friends to support you than your increasingly isolated object of scorn. A mob on the abuser's side mitigates the truth that favors the cause of the one abused.

    For example: Never talk about clerical sodomite sex abuse against children. Never. "On this, I will say nothing." Appear kind, reasonable and fraternal without actually admitting fault or doing anything resembling repentance. Emote; a lot. Only talk about the opponent and their failings, either true or false, (it doesn't matter). Create the perception that only the opponent's weaknesses (true or false) are at stake. Always, always, turn the topic back to the opponent with charges either false or true. Make your growing pool of allies see only your opponent and their supposed failings.

    The best outcome is pity for the now isolated abuser's opponent, in which the abuser gets to gather his huge crowd of followers and pity the former opponent and help him come to grips with his many moral failings (true or false ... again, it doesn't matter).

    The only topic of discussion is the opponent. Why are they so mean? Why so unreasonable? So full of hate? Vindictive? Obsessed?

    The other topic; the sodomy rape of our children over decades by Clerics representing Holy Mother Church In Personae Christi .... "On this, I will say nothing".

    The law-of-crowds compels the less-than-brave to switch sides and take on the logic of the growing crowd of friends around the abuser .... who are now making the case FOR him.

    This is what I see here. And not for the first time. We Catholics must be bold. God will surely judge this evil, one day soon. He is giving us one last chance to stand up on His behalf. Do not let acedia take its toll, preferring to sip espresso than to face up to a raging bully. Now is the time to act.


  2. Great post, Mrs, Kreitzer!

    I wonder if the esteemed counsel for the defense considers all the AG's--that would be Law Enforcement-- involved in this are media hacks or the dread and craven "plaintiffs' bar" of ambulance chasers.

    I love the question from your friend. The response reminds me of someone--isn't that just what Francis said?

    Our Lady of Fatima--Happy Birthday--continue to scour your Church--and THANK YOU for Vigano!

    Viva Cristo Rey!

    Chris Benischek
    New York, New York

  3. You pegged it, Aqua! James Martin is an expert using that tactic. Anyone who criticizes him is filled with hate and animosity and doesn't respect his priesthood. He is a piece of work! Sadly, so it the pope. I pray for him every day, but even more for the battered Bride of Christ, Holy Mother Church.

    Thank, Chris, for your comment.

    Now I have a question: Is the term "honest diocesan lawyer" an oxymoron?

  4. A friend of mine's father was a deacon in this diocese. He kept a journal of information about the priests and marked them with a big G if they were gay or if he was unsure, etc. There were lots of Gs. He ended up quitting the diaconate because he could not stand working with those "men".

  5. A little additional information. Bransfield and Wuerl are buddies and Wuerl was invited to Wheeling as homilist for the first red Mass in the diocese in 2009 and for a repeat run in 2016.

    They were also up to their necks in the papal financial scandal where a dermatology hospital in Italy known for corruption was given millions from The Papal Foundation Charity at the request of Pope Francis and approved by the clergy in charge. The laymen were so angry once resigned.

    Bransfield is the Foundation President and Wuerl is Chairman of the Board. Before this scandal the Foundation had a stellar 30 year record of charitable giving. No more!

    Is it any surprise that two clerics who spent millions on their own personal residences would have no problem diverting money for the poor to a corrupt, debt laden institution.

    Pope Francis is certainly no pope for the poor. As for Bransfield and Wuerl, as my mom always said, "Birds of a feather flock together." Both are over 75. They need to go!