Friday, 16 Nov 2018
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The alleged sexual abuse of the clergy and its concealment in a major parish of D.C. highlights the Catholic religious orders

People gather for a midday mass in Spanish at the Sacred Heart Sanctuary in Washington in October. (Matt McClain / The Washington Post) An alleged case of sexual abuse by clerics that takes place this week in one of the largest Latin parishes in the Washington area highlights a segment of the Catholic Church considered particularly opaque in terms of reprehensible behavior: religious orders. Three parishioners at the Sacred Heart Sanctuary, a busy Salvadoran church in Columbia Heights, were dismissed this week after three teenage girls were strained or kissed by Reverend Urbano Vazquez, a popular priest and gregarious priest. . The arrest and charge of sexual abuse against Vazquez, as well as the dismissal of the Chief Priest and the Chief Child Protection Coordinator, stunned the parishioners of the Sacramento. Heart, many of them going around the church in a protective or attenting manner facing the charges. Sacred Heart is an important and central group of the Hispanic community in the region, with many ministries – a school, English literacy classes and an immigration documentation center, among other services. "Maybe that would not have had such an impact if it had been in a different church," Carlos Enrique, 53, a long-time parishioner, said Thursday night. The parish leaders informed the congregation of the scandal by email on Wednesday, which they describe as a "troubling news". "I do not take for priests, I take for Christ … Whatever happens, I will not leave," said Enrique.[[[[US Bishops to Discuss the Implementation of a Code of Conduct in Response to Sexual Abuse Scandal]Vazquez, parish priest's assistant, and Reverend Moises Villalta, principal priest of the parish, are Capuchins, an order or a religious community within the Catholic Church. The Capuchins work at the Sacred Heart, which is owned and managed by the Archdiocese of Washington. Although the archdiocese can remove priests from the order of its own institutions if problems are reported to it, it does not manage or take part in disciplinary actions. Questions remain as to whether the independent leadership of the church by the Capuchins played a role in the erroneous treatment by the parish of the charges against Vazquez. (Vazquez could not be contacted, and his public defender declined to comment.) Villalta was also not contacted to comment.) The e-mail sent by the parish to the faithful indicated Villalta and Sonia Marlene Aquino, the coordinator of Child Protection, "have not followed reporting protocol. A police report released Thursday indicates that parents of at least two of the three girls had reported these abuses to the parochial authorities as early as 2015, but that this had not been reported to the civil authorities or to the authorities. Archdiocese until the end of last month. It is unclear why the allegations have resurfaced. Survivor advocates and church governance experts said that lack of transparency was a major issue for religious orders, which are all managed separately and independently of dioceses and archdioceses. Victim groups wrote this week to Callista Gingrich, US ambassador to the Vatican, urging him to pressure the US bishops on various issues related to abuse, including the lack of transparency of religious orders, such as as the Capuchins, the Jesuits, the Dominicans and the Crosiers. And on October 26, in the face of growing national pressure around church transparency, the leading male-order coordinating group – the Conference of Major Superiors – wrote to its dozens of member groups to encourage them to disclose the names of priests have faced credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors and to alert local bishops where accused men have lived. Peter Isley, a survivor of abuses committed by a Capuchin-turned spokesperson for Ending Clergy's global group Abuse, said his group and other groups of survivors had written to Gingrich as part of an effort to long term aim to make the orders more responsible. Isley said that church leaders did not agree on the obligation to respect the Charter for the Protection of Children and Youth, a key document adopted by the American bishops in 2002 and governing the bishops' procedures against abuse. The charter requires, among other things, that dioceses report allegations of abuse and file reports on various preventive measures. [Three teens allege abuse by Catholic priest in D.C., court papers say] "Some say yes; some say no, said Isley. He and other advocates of the prevention of abuse said that the orders permanently removed from ministry or secularized priests much less often than dioceses. Orders are also organized into regional provinces that cover states and sometimes national boundaries, while dioceses (and archdioceses) are located in US states, which may make it difficult for civil society agents to follow the accused. According to the Center for Applied Research at the Apostolate, center for research on church life at Georgetown University, about 31% of priests in the country, about 31%, belong to religious orders and 69% to dioceses. The fact that Sacred Heart is governed by a religious order has not been formally raised as a problem by parishioners or anyone in the archdiocese. However, this is the first new allegation of abuse in an archdiocesan parish for nearly 20 years, and the Archdiocese of DC is at the center of an explosion of concerns over the abuse of clergy children since the suspension. in June of the former Archbishop of Washington, Theodore McCarrick. accused the aggressor who has since resigned from the College of Cardinals and resigned last month from his successor, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, following allegations that he allegedly mishandled complaints of abuse while he was Bishop in Pittsburgh. Having a new allegation of abuse and concealment is a blow to an archdiocese trying to strengthen its reputation. Reverend Tom Betz, provincial – or regional – head of the Vazquez region, said in a statement Friday night that the Capuchins were receiving regular training to prevent abuse and were licensed by Praesidium, an independent company that consults and evaluates programs. prevention of abuse. "Our procedures for protecting minors have obviously failed and we must now redouble our efforts to train our brothers and improve our procedures," Betz said in a statement. The archdiocese, questioned about the supervision of the parish with orders, said that the Sacred Heart "receives the same support and commitment as other parishes in the archdiocese," wrote Chieko Noguchi spokesperson in an email. But while the archdiocese had the power to remove priests from the parish itself, she wrote: "Beyond, as far as discipline for the Capuchins is concerned, it's a question to ask in the religious order. "The abduction of the two men seems to be cut in half. full-time office staff at Sacred Heart. The Archdiocese will send staff to the parish on Sunday and offer resources to the families of the survivors. The parish planned a prayer vigil Friday in response to the arrest. The parishioners said that they were stunned by the scandal that was taking place in the church. The priests of the parish are "the pillars of the parish … the voice of the community, the face of the community," said Gilber Canales Thursday evening before Mass. They vigorously defend the issues of immigration, both in their homilies and in community marches and demonstrations. rallies to protest the crackdown on immigration by the Trump administration. Canales, 38, a church member for 22 years, is married to the church and her daughter was baptized there. He gives catechism classes to children and lives nearby. "It's like a bucket of cold water," he said. "It's chilling. We did not know anything. He had heard of the ongoing sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church around the world, but he had never thought it would affect his own community. "It's like we're in the eyes of the hurricane." Some said the reports could have been made following a series of listening sessions held in the archdiocese this summer and in the fall on the crisis. Katlyn Toelle said the community prays weekly for sexual abuse victims at Mass since an explosive grand jury report was released in Pennsylvania this summer. They pray "for the victims of abuse, whether by power or by violence, especially by the clergy who have not responded to the call of holiness," Toelle said. in an email. Toelle, who coordinates music for the English-speaking mass, said Sacred Heart is a warm and welcoming parish that discusses difficult issues openly and tries to fight injustices. "We have been hurt and deceived, but we will not be defined by her," Toelle said. At Thursday evening Mass, a new priest read in Spanish an excerpt from the Gospel of the day about the parable of the lost sheep. He did not mention the scandal. "With human weakness, we can fail … we can become dirty with sin. … but Jesus Christ is looking for each one of us. Why? To heal us, "said the priest later during the homily.Many parishioners expressed the desire to protect the parish and refused to comment on the allegations." In addition, Marco Antonio, 50, a parishioner for 13 years, questioned the intentions and credibility of the accusations, saying that families "want to take advantage of the situation." "The truth is that here the Hispanic community is very friendly," he said, saying that embracing and hugging were common forms of affection. But Canelas did not dismiss He accused Villalta of not reporting the charges earlier. "If that happened, why did they wait?" Vazquez was at the parish since 2014. He was born in 1972 in Mexico City and made his first vows. to the Capuchins in 2003. He studied in Washington while living in a nasturtium community and received a Masters of Divinity from the Caribbean Dominican Studies Center in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and was ordained a deacon in Puerto Rico. Ri co in 2013 and was a trainee deacon for one year at Notre-Dame-des-Montagnes Parish in Cumberland, Maryland, before traveling to Sacred Heart. The Archdiocese of Baltimore stated that no complaints had been lodged against the Archbishopric about Vazquez during the past year in front of Notre Dame, and that Noguchi was Had made no allegation against Vazquez before last month. Priests of the religious order like Vazquez have "a completely different way of life" in terms of the institution's desire to revoke them or discipline them in relation to dioceses, said Patrick Wall, barrister and advocate. former priest became a researcher and guardian of clergy abuse. . Regarding the treatment of clergy sexual abuse in Catholic orders, Wall said, "This is a long-standing problem that bishops have never solved."

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