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Sunday, June 16, 2019

Guest Post: When a Father has Courage, He stands Up to Dragons!

"The wicked witch is dead!"
Editor's note: Fr. Sobus didn't choose the title for this post. I did. He is, indeed, a man of courage. May God give us many more such priests. Remember, you fathers out there, one of the most important things you can do for your children is to give them an example of courage. It isn't easy standing up to a corrupt bishop or a corrupt culture, but like the early Christian martyrs, we face murderous tyrants. Teach your children to be martyrs. It may come to that.

Fathers' Day Post by Fr. James Sobus

One of the most powerful scenes in that great classic movie, The Wizard of Oz, was the castle scene. Do you remember that one? Dorothy and her friends were trapped inside the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West and being chased by her furry castle guards and the flying monkeys. Then the grande encounter occurs: It’s Dorothy and her companions face to face against the Witch and her minions. It seemed the odds were completely against them. The scarecrow’s arm is set on fire by the Witch and Dorothy, in an attempt to save him grabs a bucket of water and tosses it at the burning arm but inadvertently splashes water on the Witch melting her to death. Then comes the moment of truth: what will the Witches’ minions do to Dorothy and her friends for having killed their leader??? To their shock and amazement, the soldiers bow down proclaiming, “Hail to Dorothy, the Wicked Witch is dead!”

Little did Dorothy and her friends know that they had the power to rid themselves of the Witch all along...the power was contained in a simple bucket of water. Who would have thunk???

The chancery Monsignors claim that the reason they waited so many years to finally report B. Bransfield was because they feared retribution. And to be sure, B. Bransfield is a brutally wicked person. He lied, he stole, he abused, he misused his authority on many occasions. All were in fear of him and so was I. I wracked my brain asking myself over and over again why I was so afraid. I knew standing up to him would leave me homeless and without pay and health insurance. My biggest fear was two-fold: displeasing God and disappointing the people who I feared did not know all of the facts about B. Bransfield’s behavior and would think I was disobeying the bishop. I never was a climber who entertained thoughts of titles or promotions. In fact, the title “Monsignor” (from French and translated “My Lord”) was repulsive to me. I was lacking severely, not in faith, but in trust of my True and only Lord. I needed to surrender to Him completely. So, how do you do that?

Tragically, the chancery Monsignors had a “bucket of water” at their disposal all along if only they had had the guts to use it. And what was that bucket of Water? B. BRANSFIELD FEARED NEGATIVE PUBLICITY. Had the three Monsignors united with their lay associates at the chancery from the outset and reported him to both press and pope, they would have been victorious in having him disciplined and the good people of the diocese spared of heartbreak. They had ALL the evidence but were afraid to use it. Why? They were comfortable in the “power tower”, the 14 million dollar new chancery building. They also knew that turning on “his Excellency” would be the end of their careers and would destroy any hope of one day obtaining a red beanie. Towards the end, one did report what he had seen for years, but it was too late in the game. Tremendous damage had already been done.

The chancery staff of the diocese of Belleville, Illinois did rally, unify and stand up against their corrupt bishop several years ago after witnessing him take money specifically designated for the poor and spending it on expensive office furniture and vestments. That bishop, after being called on the carpet, publicly apologized for misusing Church funds.

What, then, was my bucket of water? Standing up against an evil tyrant would take courage, something I did not possess. He harassed me. He tried to punish me by transferring me. I prayed and begged God for a sign that would help me discern how to respond to B. Bransfield and He gave me one. 

The saving water of Baptism makes us children
of God released from the power of the dragon
On the first Thursday of Advent 2012, a drop of blood appeared on a Sacred Host which I had just consecrated at morning mass. My doctor and the parish Secretary witnessed this sign as well. What did this sign reveal to me? It assured me that I had to stand up to B. Bransfield and his minions and that suffering would occur. The Lord, however, gave me the Grace I needed to keep strong and faithful. Through it all, I was humbled and learned how, for the first time in my life, to trust Him...completely. Trust in Jesus is the most powerful “bucket of water”, I assure you.
A former parishioner took it upon himself to write a letter to the current papal nuncio, the pope’s point man in the U.S. The contents of his letter describes the nature of my ordeal....

Re: Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, WV

Rev. James Sobus


Dear Archbishop Pierre,

​The damage former bishop Michael Bransfield has done to the church in West Virginia may take decades to heal. His thirteen year dictatorship over my diocese has caused many life-long practicing Catholics, like myself, to reevaluate our beliefs in the “one, holy, catholic, apostolic church” in West Virginia.

I am a 70 year old circuit judge in Huntington, West Virginia and the son of Irish parents from New York City and Boston who believed in the strict doctrines of the church. I attended Catholic grade school, high school and I graduated from Xavier University in Cincinnati. I even sent my oldest son to the University of Notre Dame.

The recent letter from Archbishop Lori to the members of the Wheeling-Charleston diocese and the investigation by the Washington Post regrettably confirmed my worst fears about former bishop Bransfield that were long rumored but not discoverable because of the tight reign of Bransfield and his hand-picked co-conspirators in Wheeling. “Power corrupts and absolute power absolutely corrupts”.

In June, 2004, Father James Sobus was transferred from a Wheeling parish to my home parish in Huntington. I have been an active member of Our Lady of Fatima for approximately sixty five years. Father Sobus immediately impressed me and was the first, and still the only, priest that preached the gospel and could quote the bible during his Sunday homilies. It was obvious that he loved being a parish priest and ministering to his parishioners. However, he was an outspoken critic of former bishop Bransfield and others within the chancery in Wheeling.

Father Sobus dared to speak what has now been publicly acknowledged that Bransfield and others close to him were active homosexuals and were spending the church’s treasury on personal luxuries and not the mission of spreading the word of God throughout West Virginia. I am confident that you have access to the details of Bransfield’s extravagant spending on wine cellars, travel, renovations, gift giving and over $100,000 in fresh flowers.

I had many conversations with Father Sobus about Bransfield and others and was aware of his plan to refuse to be transferred from Fatima to a smaller parish in Keyser, WV, a small town in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. I urged Father Sobus to accept the transfer and to attempt to reform the diocese from within the ranks of the diocesan priests. He refused the transfer and swift vengeance was Bransfeild’s going forward.

I’ll add that Father Sobus suffered a severe spinal injury during his last Holy Week services while carrying a heavy wooden cross during the service. Surgery was required and extensive rehabilitation was necessary. He still requires the use of a cane to get around. The diocese maintained his insurance and stipend until June of 2013, when Bransfield ordered the benefits terminated. Father Sobus’ priestly faculties were suspended in June of 2013 after refusing the transfer. A group of local Catholics have privately supported Father Sobus since that time.

Being a lawyer for forty plus years and a judge for more than eight years, I understand when a wrong has been committed that there is a need to correct the injustice.

Father Sobus was done a great injustice for speaking the truth about Bransfield and his associates. He was given a punitive transfer and then stripped of his priestly duties. These spiteful acts must be reversed immediately.

I would urge you to immediately restore Father Sobus’ priestly faculties so he may once again publicly preach the gospel. He deserves to receive the stipend that was wrongfully taken away as punishment by Bransfield retroactive to the date of his termination. Further, he should be reimbursed his heath care expenses that were incurred because of his parish-related duties. In a civil case, this would have been a worker’s compensation injury for which he would have been entitled to wages and possible disability pay. The diocese owes Father Sobus his life back.

Finally, there needs to be a public recognition that Father Sobus was unjustly punished by speaking the truth about our former Bishop Bransfield.

I urge you to evaluate the propriety of Archbishop Lori leading the investigation into Bransfield’s misconduct. Bishop Lori has publicly acknowledged he received monetary gifts from Bransfield and admitted in one interview to the Baltimore newspaper that he, Archbishop Lori, directed his name and the names of other high-ranking church leaders who received approximately $350,000 in West Virginia’s money be deleted from the final report to the Vatican. As a judge, I would have recused myself from an investigation where I was a beneficiary of a potential criminal act.

In 2018, I was appointed an acting West Virginia Supreme Court Justice after all five sitting Justices had Articles of Impeachment lodged against them. One Justice pled guilty to a federal misuse of State funds and resigned his seat. The Chief Justice went to trial and was found guilty of eleven (11) federal crimes related to abuse of power. He too eventually resigned and is now in federal prison. Both were denied their State pension due to “less than honorable service.” My point is that former Bishop Bransfield should not receive any pension due to his dishonorable service. If some rule or person decides Bransfield will be paid a pension, please don’t make it payable by the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese from which he stole millions of dollars. That would be a continuing insult to our people.

I hope you will reply to this letter and take positive actions regarding Father Sobus to right just one of the many wrongs committed by Michael Bransfield. There needs to be a new era in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and those who participated, condoned, concealed, facilitated or benefited from the looting and defiling of our church must be replaced immediately. I pray that a new bishop will be named soon who will begin the healing process and put the needs of the people above himself. I hope the Diocese will consider filing a legal action to attempt to recover funds stolen by Brandsfield. I suspect he had the foresight to establish private accounts to insure his “retirement” was comfortable. The whole system of diocesan administration in the United States needs to be reviewed and reformed. I doubt Michael Bransfield was the only bishop who is guilty of maladministration.


​Paul T. Farrell


During my ordeal I begged the Lord for help and I received from Him several miraculous Graces including:

1. I  was in the hospital for two solid months during which time I went through two spinal surgeries. I was on heavy doses of opioids (pain killers) the entire time. At the end of my hospital stay I refused to take any more pain pills and had no symptoms of addiction or withdrawal.

2. A large tumor (liposarcoma) was surgically removed from under my left shoulder. The area was healed.

3. A group of people, calling themselves “The Divine Intervention” came together and provided me with money for rented housing, food and health insurance. B. Bransfield threatened to excommunicate them at one point but they refused to give in to him.

4. Most important of all, I was given the Grace to trust the Lord in all things, finally.

Now, I have placed within this posting far too many “I’s”. I beg your forgiveness. A question that gnaws at the pit of my gut is, “Why me”? Why did I receive so many undeserved Graces from the Lord? In the past I have buried a young mother named Jill who left two little boys and an adoring husband behind after losing her battle with cancer but not before putting up an incredible fight like none I have witnessed in my 33 years of ministry. I have buried marines and soldiers who fought much bigger battles than mine and paid with their lives. I am neither a saint nor mystic nor martyr. I am a miserable sinner who begged for what I didn’t deserve but I begged not for myself. I begged for God’s holy people, each of you, who have been scandalized beyond belief. I begged that He would right the many wrongs which caused His people’s hearts to be broken, over and over again. NONE of you deserve the B. Bransfields of the Church and their enablers. You have suffered the betrayal and embarrassment long enough. Change MUST now come from WITHIN the Church, beginning at the top.

Thank you for reading. May God cleanse His Son’s Church and continue to bring Justice. I am a sinner and was in need of being humbled. I begged for humility and the Lord gave that Grace to me. I will never leave His Church. Please, remain close to Jesus by remaining in His Church. Pray that Our Lord will use you to assist Him in cleaning up the mess created by the clergy, and especially, the hierarchy. He gave His life for His Church. Many people are dying each day, willingly, because they love His Church. May you honor them by remaining close to Jesus and His Church.


umblepie said...

Thank you for this moving and humbling post.
God bless Father Sobus and all who support him.

Monsignor Rottweiler (priest-alias) said...

Why didn't Sobus be obedient and take the position in Keyser? It was much smaller and no school but he still could have made a difference and worked behind the scenes. It is obvious that he had the financial backing of former parishioners. He could have easily made "lots of noise" to the Archbishop and the Apostolic Nuncio and gotten an investigation launched. He was always a "lone gun" and a loner. While in Wheeling at St. Michael's he always had the knack of chasing the money. Obviously he found money in Huntington to keep him comfortable. Has he filed a lawsuit against Bransfield? Why is he breaking his silence now? Even though he has no faculties has he been celebrating the sacraments privately for his "benefactors"?

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

I don't know if Father saw your comment, but I believe he was being treated for his back injury at the time. He was not physically able to take the assignment without jeopardizing his medical plan. Somehow I doubt that Bransfield would have cared about that.

Didn't Father reduce the tuition when he was at St. Michael's? He cares deeply about Catholic education and his parish families. Would that we had more "loners" like that!

It seems to me, considering what I know of Wheeling through my husband and his family, many of whom are still there, that an orthodox priest would likely be very much alone. I have rarely been to a Mass in the Diocese of Wheeling that didn't have some liturgical aberration and we were more likely to hear about secular role models during the sermon (Really? Michael Landon?) than saints. I think many of the priests there get their homilies from Guideposts.

J’accue. said...

When the wizard asked Dorothy to kill the Wicked Witch, Dorothy said, “Sure, Wiz.” Not exactly the sort of person I would look up to as a moral example.

As for Bishop Bransfield, who didn’t know about his sexual adventures and profligate lifestyle? He apparently had a lot of victims. He apparently had been scamming the discuss for years. Who didn’t know about his sexual adventures and profligate lifestyle? And who chose to look the other way?And for how long did they look away? How many cardinals access to cash gifts from him? How is it that a man sworn to poverty can give so many cash gifts away? Who didn’t know about his sexual adventures and profligate lifestyle?

Just like Dorothy, you all knew what you wanted to know.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Give me a break. Knowing something doesn't give one the power to stop it! Who had the power to end Bransfield's reign of terror? His superiors who enabled him as they enable each other and their cronies.

I was writing about McCarrick and his misdeeds for years. So did no avail.

The guy ringing the tocsin is warning people. But he's sure not going to be able to use the bell as a sword. They say the pen is mightier than the sword, but sometimes it moves slowly across the page.

Fr. Sobus stood up to Bransfield. And it got him the shaft. The same thing happened to Fr. James Haley when he tried to get Bishop Loverde to do something about the homosexuals in my diocese. Kill the messenger is standard practice among evil men.

It's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback. Let's see what you can do on the field during the game.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

I didn't publish your last comment, J'accue. I recognized it's just one more identity for Lourdesman et al. You really need to be less obvious!