Michael Bransfield

File photo/HD Media

Former West Virginia Bishop Michael Bransfield.

The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register published this editorial on Sept. 20 regarding the recently reported actions of former Bishop Michael Bransfield:

The more West Virginia’s Roman Catholics hear about disgraced former Bishop Michael Bransfield’s moral failings, the more some may ask, “How could this happen?”

More important: Who allowed it to occur? It is a concern people of all faiths should share.

Reminders of Bransfield’s avarice and the fallout from it have come during the past week or so. Last Friday (Sept. 13), Bishop Mark Brennan, who must continue cleaning up the mess left behind by his predecessor, announced the former bishop’s home in Wheeling had been sold for $1.2 million.

Acquired by the diocese for $63,000 in 1963, the house was damaged by fire in 2005. Bransfield spent $4.6 million on repairs and, clearly, lavish improvements.

Then came a report on Bransfield’s spending by The Washington Post. We reprinted it (last) week. It is a tale of 13 years of incredible selfishness by the former bishop.

One line of the story says it all: Between 2005 and 2018, Bransfield spent nearly $1 million on chartered private jet aircraft to take him to a variety of locations. He visited London and Paris at least four times.

Another sample: Church investigators found that Bransfield spent $61,785 at a boutique jewelry store in Washington, D.C.

Asked about all this, Bransfield told the Post, “I didn’t have the opportunity in West Virginia to live the lifestyle I lived in Washington,” where he was a church official for several years.

Bransfield’s spending is but part of the story. Allegations he sexually harassed some priests and seminarians are the other half. Church investigators found them to be credible.

It defies belief that Bransfield could have behaved as he did for so long without his superiors in the church having at least a suspicion something was wrong. Perhaps the $350,000 — in diocese money, of course — he spent on gifts, including many to other bishops and to cardinals, had something to do with that.

Brennan and others Catholic officials insist safeguards against similar conduct by a bishop have been put in place. But without understanding more about why no one stopped Bransfield, that will be of little comfort.

Who knew? Why did they not act? These are questions that simply must be answered, and soon.

Use caution in drug decisions

The Marietta (Ohio) Times published this editorial on Sept. 20:

Critics of legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes warn that doing so can result in an onslaught of requests for prescriptions from people who want the drug solely for recreational purposes. Good for the Ohio Medical Board for rejecting one potential avenue of such attempts at deception.

On Wednesday, board members voted against adding anxiety and autism spectrum disorders as grounds for seeking medicinal marijuana prescriptions. Ten states allow purchase of medicinal marijuana for anxiety. Another 22 permit its use by those diagnosed with autism spectrum.

Board members are right to be concerned not just about people faking anxiety to get marijuana, but also about how the drug affects some people. In rejecting that petition, the board noted marijuana can provide temporary relief from anxiety for some people — but it also can cause panic attacks.

Regarding use of the drug for those with autism, board members also are on solid ground. They cited concern about marijuana’s effects on children’s developing brains.

Good work. It takes little imagination to conceive of the reaction to permitting patients being treated for anxiety to obtain medicinal marijuana. An increase in the number of Buckeye State residents scheduling doctors’ appointments with claims of experiencing anxiety all the time would result.

Medical board members left open the door to reconsidering their decisions in the future. That, too, is wise. No one knows what scientific evidence may come up in the future. For now, however, the right decisions were made.

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