Bishop Accountability

6. Heal the Sick: Chaplains and Treatment
in the Official Catholic Directory

Michael Wempe was removed from service by Cardinal Mahony, sent to the Servants of the Paraclete treatment center in New Mexico, and then was placed by Mahony as a chaplain at Cedars-Sinai, a hospital with a pediatric unit. When he was assigned to Cedars, Wempe lived in a parish with a school. Mahony did not tell the parish or the hospital about Wempe's past. In September 2003, Wempe was arrested on charges of molesting an alleged victim in his chaplain's office at Cedars-Sinai.

In the 1987 Official Catholic Directory, Michael Wempe is listed in the index and the Los Angeles pages as the number-two priest at St. Sebastian's in Santa Paula, Ventura County.

But in the 1988 Official Catholic Directory, Wempe has disappeared from the index, presumably to avoid reporting that he was at the Servants of the Paraclete facility:

In the 1989 Official Catholic Directory, Wempe has reappeared in the index:

and in the parish (with a school) where he is now listed, he is reported to be "in res[idence],"

but his real assignment can only be determined by reading the entire Los Angeles section of the Official Catholic Directory, or by working back from subsequent years, because the assignment is not indexed so that it can be found. Wempe had been made chaplain of a public hospital with a pediatric ward:

In the 1990 Official Catholic Directory, Wempe's residence and chaplaincy at Cedar-Sinai are both indexed:

There are many important points to note in this sequence. When priests drop out of the Official Catholic Directory and then reappear, abuse is a strong possibility. Abusers also appear frequently in the lists of priests "On Leave" and "On Sick Leave" in the Official Catholic Directory, though it is important to note that priests suffering from alcoholism or other problems are also included in such lists. Tours at treatment centers are never logged in the Official Catholic Directory.

Cardinal Mahony neglected to inform Cedars-Sinai that their new chaplain had been accused of sexual abuse and had received treatment. Was the hiding of Wempe's Cedars assignment, so that it couldn't be found in the 1989 Official Catholic Directory, an oversight? Or was it a way to prevent his victims from tracing him to his new placement until attention had faded?

Links to the entire Guide:

1. How to Create a Service Record in a Few Easy Steps

2 . Last Year at St. Anthony's: Looking Up a Priest in the Official Catholic Directory

2 a. Are There Gaps in the Parish Records of the Official Catholic Directory?

3 . Parish School and a Festival: Transfers in the Official Catholic Directory

4 . Distinguished Priests: Background in the Official Catholic Directory

5 . Clergy Burial Grounds: Retirement and Death in the Official Catholic Directory

6 . Heal the Sick: Chaplains and Treatment in the Official Catholic Directory


Bishop Accountability © 2003
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