By Ariel Zilber | 20 September 2016
The Catholic Church has acquitted an HIV-infected priest who has admitted to raping close to 30 young girls between the ages of five and 10 years old.
According to a bombshell report, which appeared in the Spanish-language news site Urgente24.com, the priest, Jose Garcia Ataulfo, was absolved of any wrongdoing by the Archdiocese of Mexico.
Ataulfo has admitted to sexually assaulting indigenous young girls from Oaxaca, a state in southern Mexico known for its large indigenous population.
The priest has yet to face any criminal charges, most likely due to the significant influence that the Catholic Church wields in Mexico, particularly in areas populated by indigenous ethnic groups.
According to Urgente24.com, only two of the over two dozen rape victims have come forward to denounce the acquittal.
The website Anonymous Mexico reported that the mother of one of the victims asked to meet with Pope Francis in Rome, but she was rebuffed by the Vatican which wrote a letter stating that it considered the matter closed.
Since assuming the papacy in 2013, Pope Francis has said that the Church would remove bishops who cover up sex crimes committed by priests against children.
Russia Today reported this year that new church laws would enable the Vatican to strip clergymen of their positions.
Sexual abuse of minors by priests – and the subsequent cover-ups by bishops and other Church officials – have been widespread in many countries, including the United States.
The issue was thrust into the national spotlight in 2002, when the Boston Globe revealed the extent to which the local archdiocese shielded abusive priests from being exposed to the public even though it knew they posed a danger to young parishioners.
The Globe exposé, which detailed abuse cases that numbered in the thousands over a span of several decades, inspired other victims to come forward, leading to an avalanche of lawsuits and criminal prosecutions.
Not only did the floodgates open in the US, but the Catholic Church was also forced to confront cases in other countries, including Mexico.
In 2004, the Vatican re-opened a prior investigation against Marcial Maciel, who was accused of sexually abusing minors as well as fathering six children by three different women.
Though the allegations spanned decades and the extent of his crimes were known to church officials, it was only in 2006 that the Vatican forced Maciel, one of its most powerful clergymen, to retire from active ministry.
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