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:
- There was reasonable suspicion, admission, or proof that he abused other kids or is likely to do so, or
- 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.