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Pope Francis calls for investigation into Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston


A new Apostolic Administrator has been named to the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

The new administrator will be conducting an investigation into sexual harassment allegations in the area following the resignation of Bishop Michael Bransfield.

Following his acceptance of the letter of resignation of Bishop Michael Bransfield, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, appointed Archbishop William E. Lori Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, while remaining Archbishop of Baltimore.

Pope Francis further instructed Archbishop Lori to conduct an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment of adults against Bishop Bransfield.

Archbishop Lori, who was instructed to announce the forthcoming investigation, will meet with clergy and lay leaders of the Diocese on Thursday and Friday.

He will celebrate Mass in Wheeling on Saturday, Sept. 15 at 6 p.m., at the Cathedral of St. Joseph.

In a press release, Archbishop Lori is quoted as saying "My primary concern is for the care and support of the priests and people of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston at this difficult time.

"I further pledge to conduct a thorough investigation in search of the truth into the troubling allegations against Bishop Bransfield and to work closely with the clergy, religious and lay leaders of the diocese until the appointment of a new bishop."

Tim Bishop, a diocese spokesman, had this to say:

"That work is going to continue. I think one of the most important things we can do right now is hold each other up in prayer. Especially pray for our priests who are really front lines, for us, those are the gentlemen who stand in front of the parishioners every Sunday, every day in many instances, and we pray for them. "

Bishop Jeffrey Monforton of the Steubenville Diocese sent a statement in reaction to the announcement:

"I'm saddened and stunned by the news of the allegations against Bishop Bransfield. We must place our prayers and resolve in the investigation."

A hotline has been established for those wishing to share any information related to this investigation.

The hotline number is 1-833-272-4225.

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