Lay Catholics respond to appointment of Bishop Brennan

MORGANTOWN – In response to an invitation from The Dominion Post, lay Catholics have been offering comments on the appointment of Mark Brennan as the new Bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. Here are two who commented via email on Wednesday.

Kristen O’Sullivan is a parishioner at Sacred Heart in Princeton and a member of Lay Catholic Voices for Change. She said, “It is my hope that our new bishop will, first and foremost, listen to the laity. Groups, such as Lay Catholic Voices for Change, have laid out a clear path to begin the long process of taking responsibility, making amends, and ensuring the diocese is no longer vulnerable to this level of abuse of power.

“As an individual, I was disappointed when Archbishop Lori made the announcements conceding to an outside audit, but never once acknowledged they were doing this because they heard and were responding to the demands of the laity. Sadly, I see not acknowledging the laity’s role in the decision continues to downplay the importance of the voices from the pews. Without acknowledgement and a full welcoming of lay involvement, we are watching while the broken patriarchy mends its wounds rather than building in necessary changes for the future.”

This parishioner lives in another state but grew up in the diocese and still has close ties. Because of certain sensitive issues, we agreed to protect the person’s identity for a previous story and for this one.

The parishioner wrote, “Like many Catholics, I was deeply disappointed at Monsignor Annie’s outright refusal to apologize to the seminarian who spoke at the recent meeting at St. Mary’s. I am hopeful that Bishop Brennan will truly listen to the people of the diocese and actively try to help those who have been affected by Bishop Bransfield’s inexcusable and destructive behavior.

“I also hope that he will reevaluate the appointment of Monsignor Annie to St. Mary’s church [on Tuesday, the diocese told The Dominion Post that Annie is retiring effective Aug. 1], as well as the decision to keep Monsignor Cincinnati as the school pastor at St. Francis de Sales Catholic school. I am puzzled as to why these two individuals, who have freely admitted that they knew about Bishop Bransfield’s actions, have been placed in positions of authority. As an alumna of St. Francis, I am especially distressed. According to the Vatican report, this man knew that the bishop was sexually harassing young men (seminarians) yet stood by and did nothing. How can this man possibly be allowed to continue working with children from 3 years of age to young teens (pre-k through 8th grade)?  

“I fully support the diocesan donation boycott [LCVC has suspended the Not a Dime for the Diocese campaign pending an announced audit and the release of the results]

Although this boycott specifically applies to diocesan programs, and not to local parishes, I have personally extended it. I have also stopped contributing to my alma mater, and have also stopped contributing to the weekly collections at St. Mary’s church.

“While Father DiBacco does have to accept the appointment of Monsignor Annie, as was directed by Archbishop Lori, he has an obligation to appeal to the new bishop to have Monsignor Annie replaced. Hosting one church meeting (where Msgr. Annie was unapologetic and unremorseful) does not relieve Father DiBacco from his duty to provide for and to protect the parishioners of St. Mary’s church. By withholding my weekly donation to the church, it is my hope that others will follow and that a significant decrease in church collections will cause Father DiBacco will address the situation directly.”