A young priest in California’s Sacramento Diocese was arrested yesterday for lewd and lascivious acts with a minor. Father Uriel Ojeda is only 32 years old. The survivor’s family reported the abuse to the diocese, which did the right thing when it immediately contacted police and child protection.
With this case we again see that the problem of priest sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and elsewhere is not limited to certain types of perpetrators, and is, unfortunately, not something that came and went with the 1970s. Catholic bishops and leaders would prefer us to “blame Woodstock” and believe that sexual abuse in the Catholic Church was confined to the ’60s and ‘70s. While the findings of the latest John Jay Report on the “Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors By Catholic Priests,” lends itself to the same conclusion, we need to remember that Catholic Bishops not only funded the John Jay Report, but also was the sole provider of the data that composed the report.
The Diocese must now act to reach out to all of the potential survivors, children who were put at risk because the Diocese chose to employ this offender to work with children. Now is the time for these survivors to feel safe to come forward and no longer have to live in fear or shame. We praise the survivor who spoke up and out to his or her family about the abuse, so this offender is exposed, held accountable, and this is never allowed to happen to another child.
I certainly hope that Father Uriel Ojeda is not permitted to flee to Mexico, as not less than six other priests who were child molesters in the Sacramento Diocese have and thereby, avoided criminal prosecution. That list includes but is not limited to: Father Gerardo Beltran, Father Mario Blanco, Father Javier Francisco Garcia, Father Jorge Moreno, Father Jose Costellano Pinal, and Father Jose Luis Urbina.