IL--Admitted predator priest will not be put back to work in Chicago

For immediate release: Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, 314 645 5915 home, [email protected])

An admitted child molesting cleric will NOT be put back on the job in Chicago, his victim was told today via email by an archdiocesan official. (A copy of the email is below.)

Fr. Bruce Wellems admits having repeatedly sexually abused Eric Johnson when Wellems was 15 and Johnson was seven. The Chicago Archdiocese temporarily suspended Fr. Wellems but dragged their feet for months while pondering whether to let the priest work again in Chicago again.

When confronted about his abusive acts, Fr. Wellems attacked the messenger, saying reports of his abusive acts had “no factual basis.”

In a bizarre twist, when our group warned parents and parishioners about Fr. Wellems, he attacked us, saying we’re guilty of “poor judgment” and “victimizing the thousands of families in the parishes where I have worked.”

Now, Archbishop Blasé Cupich should hold a news conference, explain his irresponsible and secretive behavior with this admitted predator and announce this decision to keep Fr. Wellems out of ministry in Chicago.

Fr. Wellems’ backers try to spin this as a story of sin and redemption. That’s disingenuous at best and downright dangerous at worst. This is a story of crime, not sin, and of recklessness, not redemption.

Making excuses and minimizing crimes by calling them “sins” endangers children. Violating “zero tolerance” pledges by keeping admitted molester priests in ministry puts children in harm’s way. 

Johnson was prevented from taking legal action against Fr. Wellems and his supervisors because of the stature of limitations.

Fr. Wellems belongs to a Catholic religious order called the Claretians.

We’re glad Fr. Wellems won’t be allowed to work in Chicago as a priest. This decision should have been a “no brainer.” We hope any families who like or trust Fr. Wellems will now try hard to keep him away from their kids. We hope others who have information or suspicions about his crimes – or cover ups by his colleagues – will step forward.

No matter what else may happen with Fr. Wellems, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in Catholic churches or institutions to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747,[email protected])


From: Mary Jane Doerr <[email protected]>
Date: Wed, May 18, 2016 at 10:16 AM
Subject: News!
To: ---REDACTED---
I wanted to let you know that after a thorough  investigation and having received the recommendation of the IRB, Archbishop Cupich will not reinstate Fr. Wellem's faculties.
Mary Jane
Director, Office for the Protection of Children and Youth

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