On August 15, a Washington, D.C. superior court found Capuchin Fr. Urbano Vazquez guilty of three felony counts of second-degree child sexual assault with aggravating circumstances, and of one misdemeanor count of sexual abuse of a child. The child in question was nine years old.
One victim testified that she at first delayed making an accusation against Vazquez because she feared he might retaliate by escalating his behavior from sexual touches to rape.
According to the prosecuting attorney in the case, "Vazquez got a thrill out of [engaging in sexual behavior] during the Mass services [presumably in the church while another priest said Mass], behind closed doors."
The maximum combined sentences for the crimes of which Vazquez has been convicted add up to 45 years, while he still faces additional criminal charges for allegedly groping a woman in the confessional. Two other accusations against him cannot be pursued by the authorities because the pertinent statute of limitations has expired and there is reason to believe his sexual activities are even more extensive.
While he has denied all accusations of criminal conduct, he had admitted to going on vacation to Cancun with a woman he described as his "best friend."
This is one situation in which there is no evidence that the scandal-ridden archdiocese of Washington has not been guilty of wrongdoing — wrongdoing attributable to the convicted priest's immediate Capuchin superior, Fr. Moises Villalta, formerly the pastor of the Capuchins' Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Washington.
According to the public understatement of the archdiocese, Fr. Villalta "failed to follow appropriate protocols related to reporting allegations of abuse to civil authorities and the archdiocese." In fact he received an accusation from a victim's mother as far back as 2015 and did nothing for three years, then mentioned the matter to a visiting priest.
He has been removed as pastor of Sacred Heart and banned from further ministry within the archdiocese of Washington, which may seem to be a slap on the wrist but is the strongest punishment a diocese can mete out to the priest of a religious order, the order itself being responsible for the imposition of further sanctions.
For the two priests in question to be out of the nation's capital is good news in more ways than one. In addition to committing and turning a blind eye to sexual misdeeds, Frs. Vazquez and Villalta reduced their shrine to a center of left-wing political activism, work in which the latter, as the senior of the two, has taken a leading role in which — if he has not become particularly prominent — he had established connections with all the wrong people.
Both priests are immigrants known for preaching a leftist public policy agenda at Mass and for taking part in political demonstrations against President Trump's attempt to maintain border security, and both have ties to the ecclesial left of Latin America.
Vazquez was born in Mexico and Villalta in El Salvador, a country in which both have worked. Villalta has also commented on Latin American affairs for such left-leaning periodicals as America and The Tablet, and was also chosen by Salvadoran bishop Gregorio Rosa Chavez (who frequently visited the Shrine of the Sacred Heart) to be his secretary when in Rome for the consistory at which he was made a cardinal.
Chavez is himself an interesting figure. An auxiliary bishop since 1982, Chavez took part in the negotiations between the Salvadoran government and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, an alliance of socialists and communists whose guerilla forces were opposed to the government armies in the Salvadoran Civil War. His appointment as a cardinal while being left in his post as an auxiliary bishop was highly unusual but, as a friend of the late Abp. Oscar Romero, Chavez has been favored by Pope Francis.
Typical of Villalta's activities is his work for the Washington Interfaith Network (in which he once held a senior position) and his celebrating Mass at a conference organized by the Franciscan Third Order at which the keynote speaker was an Episcopalian clergyman named Eric Law. Law authored a book titled Inclusion and founded the Kaleidoscope Institute, which runs "dialogue sessions" on such topics as "women's rights ... immigration status ... Race and Privilege, Black Lives Matter, Race and Immigration."
The Washington Interfaith Network, despite its name, has little to do with even syncretistic religiosity, being merely the Washington affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation, one of the incendiary organizations that the infamous radical and atheist Saul Alinsky (who once dedicated a book to Lucifer) founded to implement his noxious agenda. In addition to its predicable activism on behalf of illegal immigrants from Latin America, it advocates a pro-Muslim agenda and opposes the capitol city's quasi-privatization of its public transportation system through use of independent contractors.
One of the co-chairs of its strategy team is Lutheran pastor Michael Wilker, who is not only a supporter of the homosexualist agenda but deliberately defied the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America by officiating at homosexual "weddings" at a time when that denomination remained opposed to them.
Efforts to contact the Capuchin province of St. Augustine to which Vazquez and Villalta belong were unsuccessful, but the priest to whose voicemail I was forwarded, Fr. Frank Yakobi, had earlier testified in support of an effort to have Vazquez released on bail and allowed to reside at a Capuchin house while awaiting trial. Another Capuchin province, St. Conrad, allows Theodore McCarrick not only to live in one of its friaries, which is located near a school, but has turned down the former cardinal's offer to pay the cost of his upkeep.