Once again: Why won’t anyone tell the truth about Bruce Wellems?

Fr. Bruce Wellems: the man everyone wants to protect.

Yesterday, the Chicago Tribune reported that the Chicago Archdiocese and the Claretian Fathers have barred Catholic priest Father Bruce Wellems from ministry.

To be honest, they made that decision in March, but didn’t tell anyone until May. Were they ever going to tell anyone? That’s a big question.

In fact, had Wellems’ victim not been vigilant and insisted on knowing the decision of both groups … and had he not informed the Chicago Tribune once he learned the outcome, no one would have known at all.

This is transparency? This is openness?

No! This is flagrant disregard for Cupich’s promise of openness, his assurances of public safety, any modicum of risk management, or the use of simple common sense.

It gets worse.

From the Chicago Tribune:

That review in March uncovered “additional facts that weren’t previously available,” a spokeswoman for the archdiocese said, leading Cupich to bar Wellems from active ministry.

Additional facts? Like what? That Wellems lied about the abuse? We knew that. That he still worked and traveled with children after his victim was promised that Wellems would have a restricted ministry? We knew that, too.

We know he didn’t steal money, because then Wellems would be in jail. (Bishops tend to work very well with law enforcement on THOSE matters)

There are only two additional facts that would lead Chicago Archbishop Cupich to bar Wellems from ministry:

  1. There was reasonable suspicion, admission, or proof that he abused other kids or is likely to do so, or
  2. He directly defied Archbishop Cupich

Since it took us two months to learn the truth and Wellems was hanging out at Back of the Yards and acting like a priest, I think we can rule out #2.

Parishioners and community members at Back of the Yards are using social media to rally support for Wellems. A group in Los Angeles did the same thing … until they learned that the Archdiocese and Wellems were lying to them.

They were good people and they were doubly betrayed.

It’s never easy for parishioners to learn that a priest they love and trust is a predator. I just hope that for the people of Chicago, it’s not too late.

Eric Johnson, victim of Bruce Wellems, age 7
Eric Johnson, victim of Bruce Wellems, age 7


3 thoughts on “Once again: Why won’t anyone tell the truth about Bruce Wellems?

  1. Wellems was removed by the recommendation of the Independent Review Board. Obviously new information has been received, otherwise the Claretians would not have removed him from their Order too . The Claretians have supported Wellems for decades, and now they have discontinued that support. Wellems is a “Pedophile”, period.

    The Board consists of peers and well respected people in the community. We must respect their decision. Everyone can complain about the Archbishop, but the decision and recommendation was not made by him.

    Independent Review Board:

    The Independent Review Board (Review Board) is advisory to the Archbishop concerning matters of allegations of the sexual abuse of minors against clergy of the Archdiocese of Chicago who are in good standing (i.e. active or retired). The Review Board consists of nine to 11 individuals who are appointed by the Archbishop. Six of the Review Board members are lay Catholics who are not employees of the church and represent one of each of the following backgrounds: a psychiatrist, a psychologist or social worker, an attorney, a parish council member, a parent, and a victim/survivor or parent of victim/survivor of child sexual abuse. Three of the members are clerics of this archdiocese (two priests and one deacon). The Archbishop, in consultation with the Review Board, may appoint one or two additional lay Catholics who shall be considered at large member(s).

  2. Oh and there is actually a 4th possibility:

    That the case of Mr. Johnson is the only case the archdiocese reviewed and applied the one-strike policy to behavior before he even entered the seminary. The fact you didn’t list this as a possibility seems to indicate even the SNAP forces didn’t think the 44-year old incident(s) was enough by themselves to defrock him.

  3. There is a 3rd possibility that the archdiocese barred him from active ministry because of suspicions of his sexual orientation. To my knowledge, the church is protected from anti-discrimination laws and require virtually no evidence to act on suspicions.

    That also explains why the DCFS had received no further referrals.

    I agree with you the archdiocese owes an explanation, and that should unite both sides to this matter.

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