Catholic Church Officials Take Action Against 2 Bishops

Restrictions placed on bishops accused of sexual harassment

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Catholic church officials are imposing ministerial restrictions on two bishops who once led in Maryland and West Virginia and have been accused of sexual harassment.

Baltimore Archbishop William Lori announced the action Monday and says officials completed an investigation into claims that Bishop Michael Bransfield, who resigned from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston last year, sexually harassed adults and committed financial improprieties.

Bransfield won’t be allowed to perform priestly or episcopal ministry in the diocese or Baltimore’s archdiocese pending the Holy See’s final assessment.

Bishop Gordon Bennett, who once served as Baltimore’s auxiliary bishop and was later the Mandeville, Jamaica, bishop, faces the same restrictions. He resigned in 2006 after sexual harassment allegations surfaced. Jesuit officials say Bennett was cleared, but a recent case review determined he shouldn’t exercise episcopal ministry.