Peter Brian Wells

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Peter Brian Wells JCD STL (born 12 May 1963) is the current Assessor for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, effectively deputy to the chief of staff, Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu since his appointment by Pope Benedict XVI on 16 July 2009. [1] He had previously served under Fernando Filoni until May 2011.

Wells was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was ordained a priest on 12 July 1991 and was incardinated in the Diocese of Tulsa. He completed his studies in philosophy at Saint Meinrad Seminary College in Indiana, where he studied Laureti in Arts. He completed his studies in theology, as a student at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

In 1990, he obtained the baccalaureate in theology of the Pontifical Gregorian University, later gaining the Licentiate in Theology at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family in Rome, in 1992.

He received a licentiate and a doctorate in canon law from Pontifical Gregorian University in 1998 and 1999. At the same time as this he was a student at the elite Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy.

After his ordination, he held the following positions: parochial vicar at the Cathedral of the Holy Family of Nazareth in Tulsa, special Secretary to the Bishop of Tulsa and the Vicar for the Religious Education of the Diocese.

He entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See on 1 July 1999, has worked in the Apostolic Nunciature in Nigeria and, since 2002, at the Section for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State. Wells was appointed to head the English desk in 2006.[2] Besides his native English, he speaks Italian, French, German and Spanish.

He was named Assessor on 16 July 2009 when Gabriele Giordano Caccia was named as Apostolic Nuncio to Lebanon the same day. Speaking about his work as assessor of general affairs, he said his department is "like a chief of staff office for the pope," dealing with things like security issues and communications. The department's job is to help Pope Francis and his representatives "have the ability to act freely in the world" and not be "impeded in their ministry," especially in reaching out to the most marginalized, he said[3]

Cables revealed as part of the Wikileaks scandal show how much diplomats rely on Wells for readings of the Vatican's take on sensitive issues, such as the church's sexual abuse scandals. Other players know the score, too. In 2010, when parishioners in Boston wanted to appeal the closing of nine local parishes, they consulted a couple of canon lawyers about the best way to get the pope's attention, and the reply was to address the petition to Wells.[4]

Pope Francis by chirograph named Monsignor Wells secretary of the five member Pontifical Commission responsible for investigating the Institute for the Works of Religion.[5] Cardinal Farina, S.D.B., is president of the commission and Cardinal Tauran is a member, Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta Ochoa de Chinchetru, serves as the coordinator while Professor Mary Ann Glendon is the final member.

He is at the same time the president of Financial Security Committee.


Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Gabriele Giordano Caccia
Assessor for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State
16 July 2009 – present