Catholic priest serving time for sexually abusing children convicted Monday of assaulting a woman; SNAP hopes more will follow her brave example

Fr. Urbano Vasquez was convicted on Monday, November 29, 2021, of sexually assaulting an adult female parishioner during confession in April of 2017. The Catholic priest is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence for child sexual abuse. He was convicted in 2019 for sexually abusing two girls, one thirteen and the other nine. All three assaults occurred between 2015 and 2017, while the clergyman was working at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Washington D.C.

We applaud the courage of the woman who found the strength to come forward after she experienced horror during a sacred rite. SNAP knows from its work with adult survivors that they – like children -- suffer greatly from such betrayals by trusted clergymen. We even offer support specifically tailored to men and women who have been victimized by clergy. After all, in the Catholic tradition, all parishioners address the priest as “Father,” and he is in a position of authority over their spiritual lives.

We certainly know from this case and that of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick that those who abuse adults sometimes hurt children as well. The Catholic Church apparently ignored McCarrick’s abuse of adults under his authority and took no action against the prelate until accusations of child sexual abuse became public in 2018. Until recently, the abuse of adults by Catholic priests has been virtually ignored by the Church however, hopefully, soon that will be changing. Back in June Pope Francis changed Vatican law to explicitly criminalize the sexual abuse of men and women by clergy. The new provision becomes effective next week. We believe that dioceses across the United States, the Archdiocese of Washington included, should now begin adding these dangerous men to their lists of abusers. At present, only the Diocese of Sacramento has acknowledged the existence of those priests who prey on men and women, wreaking havoc on innocent lives, although for some reason the Diocese limits itself to those who harmed adults under the age of 25.

SNAP has been working to add perpetrators who have been publicly accused of assaulting adults to our own lists of Diocesan perpetrators. We are positive that those clergy who prey on men and women are living freely in Catholic parishes nationwide. It is time for those adults abused by these men to step out of the shadows, speak out, report to law enforcement, and begin to heal.

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