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Chicago priest, 58, abused 7-year-old as a teen: Should he still wear the collar?

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Dick Whitman, Jan 3, 2016.

  1. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Interesting piece about a priest who has done tremendous work for impoverished children in Chicago. The problem? He sexually abused a 7-year-old boy in the early '70s when he was 15. He says he was repeating what an older boy did to him, and there's no other allegations that have surfaced.

    Should Chicago priest return to ministry after revelations of teen misconduct?
  2. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    Ugh. I don't know if I can even read this whole story.

    Sadly the bolded part is often true. But he can't ever be alone around kids, and it looks like he chose work that would allow for just that:

    For decades, the Rev. Bruce Wellems, a Roman Catholic priest with the Claretian Missionaries, has served as a father figure for young men in Chicago's Back of the Yards neighborhood.
    Over the past 30 years, Wellems has become a champion for young Latinos. Several years after his ordination in 1986, the Claretians moved him to Holy Cross Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Back of the Yards, where he worked with at-risk youths in the neighborhood.

    He shouldn't be a Priest, and this kind of thing should have never been policy:

    He went through clinical assessments and entered counseling before the Claretians cleared him to return.

    "We found no reason why he shouldn't continue in ministry," said the Rev. Rosendo Urrabazo, now provincial superior of the Claretian Missionaries in the U.S. "His work speaks for itself without any complaints."

    Cardinal Joseph Bernardin accepted the determination in July 1996 and restored Wellems' faculties to wear a collar and serve as a priest, the archdiocese said.
  3. MisterCreosote

    MisterCreosote Well-Known Member

    Priests don't deserve the benefit of the doubt. If he provides ironclad proof that it only happened once decades ago, then ... maybe he should be allowed to stay. Maybe.

    No allegations surfaced anywhere for a long, long time because the church was actively suppressing them. There's no reason to believe that couldn't happen again.
  4. poindexter

    poindexter Well-Known Member

    Only instance.... Suuuuuurrrrre.
  5. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    Yes and no.

    Because he admitted he did it once, I'm not willing to give him much of a benefit of the doubt. And, while you do see many pedophiles put themselves in positions of trust/authority, where they would have access to at risk kids, I'm not sure that's reason enough to say the priests in general do not deserve the benefit of the doubt.

    I don't like the fact that this guy chose to work with at risk kids. I would think you'd have to aggressively investigate his years working as a priest before you could be comfortable with the idea that he never abused another child.
  6. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Reading the story, I think I probably believe him. But not with a great enough degree of certainty to allow him around kids. It's unfortunate, because Back of the Yards is a cesspool, but it's basic risk management.
  7. outofplace

    outofplace Well-Known Member

    I don't think I could ever be comfortable enough that he hasn't abused another child to allow him to continue to serve as a priest.
  8. SnarkShark

    SnarkShark Well-Known Member

    Just disclose what he did to any congregation he tries to lead and see how long he lasts.
  9. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    Put him in some adult ministry or diocesan administration role where he is never (ever) alone with children or adolescents.

    Yeah, it's kinda unfair he is penalized forever for his actions as a 15-year old, but allowing him back in the ministry at all is damn lenient.

    If he tries to skirt the restrictions -- done.
  10. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson New Member

    Jerry Sandusky also did a lot of work for kids.
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