Archdiocese of Washington Statement on Verdict in Trial of Religious Order Priest at Shrine of the Sacred Heart Parish in Washington

WASHINGTON, D.C. In November, 2018, the Archdiocese of Washington announced that the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin (OFM Cap.), the religious order which for many years has overseen the pastoral ministry and governance of Shrine of the Sacred Heart parish in Washington, had informed the archdiocese for the first time that it had received an allegation of sexual abuse against Father Urbano Vazquez, OFM, Cap.

In compliance with its long-standing Child Protection and Safe Environment Policy, the archdiocese immediately revoked permission for Father Vasquez to serve as a priest in the Archdiocese of Washington and suspended his priestly faculties. Since last Fall, the archdiocese has fully cooperated with law enforcement and civil authorities in their investigation. Father Vazquez’s criminal trial began in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia on Monday, August 5th and concluded today when the jury reached a verdict of guilty on all charges.

The Archdiocese respects the decision of the jury’s finding that Father Vasquez is guilty of the charges brought against him and will continue to support the legal system through the sentencing process and any subsequent proceedings. Father Vasquez will have no authority to serve as a priest in the Archdiocese of Washington. Any further consideration of his ministry is in the control of his religious Order of Friars Minor Capuchin and questions in that regard should be directed to their leadership.

The archdiocese will continue to work with the Sacred Heart parish and school leadership to ensure that this community is supported and that the survivors who came forward to report the allegations are provided emotional and pastoral care through this difficult time as they continue in their process of healing. The Archdiocese of Washington is steadfastly committed to the protection of youth and the healing of those harmed by abuse and adheres to a zero-tolerance policy for credible claims of abuse made against archdiocesan clergy, religious orders operating in the archdiocese, staff and volunteers.

The Archdiocese of Washington takes seriously its responsibility to protect the children entrusted to its care and the archdiocese’s Child Protection and Safe Environment Policy mandates criminal background checks, applications and education for all employees and volunteers who work with young people.

If at any time individuals become aware of improper conduct by a person involved in archdiocesan ministry, they are encouraged to report this to civil authorities and to contact Courtney Chase, Executive Director of the archdiocese’s Office of Child Protection and Safe Environment at 301-853-5302.

# # #