Hemant Mehta, an atheist who blogs at Patheos, dismissed widespread reports that a Catholic priest in Mexico raped 30 girls between the ages of 5 and 10 and then exonerated by his church. In a blog post, Mehta -- who was granted a master's degree by the Catholic DePaul University -- cited news reports from "shady-as-hell sources like the Daily Mail and Anonymous Mexico" that claim that a certain Father Jose Garcia Ataulfo is an HIV-infected Catholic priest and serial rapist who faces no criminal charges, "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," wrote Mehta.
William Donohue, director of the Catholic League -- an advocacy group based in New York City -- agrees with Mehta that the claim is "pure fiction."
Donohue wrote, "So what we have here is a blatant attempt to smear the Catholic Church with the most vicious of lies. Why? The Archdiocese of Mexico suggests that supporters of same-sex marriage in Mexico are behind it, as they had recently threatened to plant damaging stories about the Church in retaliation for its opposition to a gay marriage initiative. That seems like a pretty big story in itself. Yet the mainstream media have completely buried it."
The communications office of the Archdiocese of Mexico City released a statement to the effect 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. The archdiocese suggests that the fabrication spread because of the Catholic Church's opposition to the recognition nationally of civil marriage for same-sex couples.
Marriage for same-sex couples was recognized in 2010 by the municipal government of Mexico City, which has long been controlled by the socialist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), while President Enrique Peña Nieto is trying to achieve national recognition before leaving office. Peña Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) had been in power for 70 years under various guises until the center-right National Action Party won the presidency in 2000 in the person of Vicente Fox Quesada. The PRI was responsible during the early years of the 20th century for persecutions of Catholic clergy and laity, including torture and executions. Both the PRI and PRD have long been at odds with the Catholic Church.
According to Mehta, "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...there’s no reason to think this is true."
"But let’s not perpetuate an unconfirmed rumor. That doesn’t help our side at all," wrote Mehta.
Noting how establishment media is frequently sloppy with its fact-checking, Donohue wrote, "Imagine if the opposite had happened—if the Catholic Church had published malicious lies about supporters of same-sex marriage. There would hardly be a newspaper, broadcast outlet or online media site in America that would not have led with the story. But when the Catholic Church is the target of such vicious lies, they summarily ignore it. Their silence tells us all we need to know about media bias against the Church."
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