The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston released information regarding its financial position on Friday, following an external audit of diocesan books for the fiscal year ending 30 June 2019. It was the first release of its kind for the troubled diocese, which covers the whole of the US state of West Virginia. The move comes in the wake of major public scandal, from which Wheeling-Charleston is struggling to emerge under new leadership.
According to the report by the Pennsylvania-based firm, CliftonLarsonAllen LLP, Wheeling-Charleston has a nearly $240 million investment portfolio, and rights to oil and gas reserves currently valued at $51.6 million. That is a significant portfolio in absolute terms, but one that only grew by 1.13% over the dozen years 2007-2019.
During most of that time, the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston had Bishop Michael J. Bransfield at its head (2005-2018), whose free spending and moral turpitude have been the subject of both ecclesiastical and secular investigation, as well as intense and sustained public scrutiny. Pope Francis banished Bransfield from the diocese in 2019, prohibited him from celebrating the sacraments publicly, and ordered him to make amends for his scandalous comportment.