Joel Wright (being led away in handcuffs above) was a legally blind seminarian at Columbus, Ohio’s Pontifical College Josephinum in 2016 when he was arrested for attempting to buy a one- and four-year-old child off of Craigslist to rape and molest.
A native of Steubenville, Wright had wanted to be a priest for many years. In fact, Wright’s mother claimed the he had been rejected by 45 other seminaries due to his blindness and other physical handicaps.
Despite what the church calls “rigorous psychological testing” for every candidate going into the seminary, media accounts say that Wright was placing ads on Craigslist as early as 2014, offering parents $150 to watch their children, a “red flag” behavior that was reported to church officials. Although Steubenville police were informed, Wright was allowed to remain in the seminary in Columbus.
Columbus Bishop Frederick Campbell remained silent throughout the entire scandal. No statement. No apology. No promise that he would reach out to the Josephinum to make sure this never happens again.
Although the Josephinum operates only with Campbell’s permission and seminarians must meet his standards, Campbell did not offer any condolences to possible victims, or promise that anything would change to make sure that men like Wright would not be allowed to become priests in Columbus.
In fact, how many men from the Josephinum are priests in Columbus?
An apology would have been so simple … or not
This was low-hanging fruit. It would have been very easy for Campbell to make a public statement saying that he was going to work with the seminary to make sure that something like this never happened again. It would have been simple to call this a tragedy. But he didn’t. Campbell hid … because if he acknowledged anything, he would open himself up to legal liability.
And my bet is that Campbell’s guessing there are more victims … and he doesn’t care that they are hurting. He just cares that they might figure out that they have legal rights.