According to various news reports from shady-as-hell sources like the Daily Mail and Anonymous Mexico, an HIV-infected Catholic priest who raped 30 girls between the ages of 5 and 10 was let off the hook by the Archdiocese of Mexico.
Father Jose Garcia Ataulfo faces no criminal charges, these reports suggest, because it’s Mexico, and Mexico loves its Catholicism.
The problem is that Ataulfo may not even exist. You can’t find a picture of him. The Archdiocese claims no one of that name ever worked for them. And the crime is so heinous, even for a Catholic priest, that it almost sounds like someone made it up to make the Church look even worse than it already does.
The Archdiocese now has the unenviable task of trying to stop the spread of a rumor that they claim is pure fiction:
SIAME, the communications office of the Archdiocese of Mexico, has stated that the supposed priest José Ataulfo is not listed in their jurisdiction’s records, nor in those of the Archdiocese of Antequera, Oaxaca.
“This supposed priest does not belong to the Archdiocese of Mexico — as Anonymous Mexico asserts — much less has he been let off, as the post irresponsibly and maliciously states,” stated Fr. Hugo Valdemar Romero, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Mexico.
They say that the story may have spread in response to the Church’s opposition to marriage equality, a goal that President Enrique Nieto is trying to achieve before leaving office.
Needless to say, there are plenty of reasons to criticize the Church and no reason to conjure up fake ones. Until there’s proof of Ataulfo’s horrific crime — a police report, victims going public, a leaked Church document saying he was acquitted — there’s no reason to think this is true. (One website claimed two victims stepped forward, but there were no details to confirm that. That site also cited Anonymous Mexico as their source.)
Maybe the bigger story is how the Church has been so awful with regards to its handling of child abuse cases and rape scandals that the public’s first reaction to hearing about Ataulfo’s alleged acquittal was, “Yeah, it’s probably true. The Church would totally do something like that.” That’s something the Church will have to continue to fix moving forward.
But let’s not perpetuate an unconfirmed rumor. That doesn’t help our side at all.