Lori not without sin as well

If you accept a financial gift from someone, are there strings attached — invisible strings, of friendship, goodwill, gratitude? Is there any chance that you might someday, somehow return the favor? Quite often, we are seeing something very disturbing. Money talks. Or does it silence? Pope Francis had asked the Archbishop of Baltimore, Bishop Lori, to investigate allegations that the bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, Michael Bransfield, was guilty of sexually harassing adults and financial impropriety. Lori conducted the investigation and found the allegations credible. During the investigation, it was also discovered that Bransfield had given $350,000 to 11 high-ranking priests, bishops, and cardinals, as well as the young men he was accused of abusing. When Lori submitted his report to the Pope, he left out that information, saying that the names –including his own — were cut because including them “could inadvertently and/or unfairly suggest that in receiving gifts … there were expectations for reciprocity.”

“Expectations for reciprocity.”

The Parkersburg News and Sentinel reported Lori’s words: “I am deeply pained by and sorry for the harm that (Bishop Bransfield) caused to those he was charged with shepherding… There is no excuse, nor adequate explanation that will satisfy the troubling question of how his behavior was allowed to continue for as long as it did, without the accountability that we must require of those who have been entrusted with so much… as bishops and pastors.” He asks a troubling question: How was Bransfield’s behavior allowed to continue for as long as it did? Lori blames mysterious “other” bishops and pastors. He’s not identifying himself as one of those who failed. Ask him. Who knew? Who had oversight? Who did nothing, said nothing, reported nothing, stopped nothing? The bishops themselves allowed it, failed to stop it. Did the “gifts” Lori received from Bishop Bransfield have anything to do with “allowing the abuse to continue for so long?” We don’t know, but when Lori left that out of his report to the Pope, it raises questions. Let’s answer Lori’s question, shall we? Who allowed it to continue? Who was accountable? Well, Bishop Lori, you were. It is a troubling explanation. Lori should at least be as ethical as former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from an investigation where there was conflict of interest. Lori couldn’t be impartial. Bransfield gave him money; Lori stayed silent for years. Coincidence? What does accountability look like here?

Wendy Tuck

Parkersburg

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