A pedophile priest, who was found guilty of raping 30 children while infected with HIV but forgiven by the Vatican, has been found dead outside his church.Earlier this year, Catholic priest Jose Garcia Ataulfo admitted to raping 30 young girls aged between 5 and 10 years old in Oaxaca, Southern Mexico.
Ataulfo was cleared of any wrong doing by the church and didn’t face any criminal charges, despite the fact that he knew he was infected with HIV when he sexually abused all the children he is known to have raped.
As part of Pope Francis’s “more merciful” approach to child abusing clergy, Ataulfo was relocated to a different church to seek “prayer and forgiveness for his sins.” Now, it seems as though his past has caught up with him after his dead body was found crucified outside his new church in a rural area of Villa Alta.
Ataulfo was found tied from a wooden beam that was hanging from a large tree branch by members of his congregation who had arrived for Sunday mass to find the church closed. According to local police, he had been beaten before he was crucified and his genitals had been “removed” and placed in his mouth.
He also had hot road tar poured onto the top of his head which appears to have been done as “torture” after he was hung up but while he was still alive.
His robes had been removed and burned on the floor and he had been dressed in rags and had a wooden plaque nailed to his hand that was engraved with the words:
“I am no man of God
“I am a demon.
“I will pay for my crimes in hell.”
Police believe that he may have been killed by the violent drug gang known as the “Knights Templar.” The Knights Templar Cartel (Spanish: Los Caballeros Templarios) is a Mexican criminal organization composed of remnants of the defunct La Familia Michoacana drug cartel and are known for their brutal executions.
According to local media reports, it is thought that Ataulfo may have had a “price on his head” for his past crimes and the cartel may have been tipped off as to where he had been relocated to.
Speaking to reporters, police spokesman Manuel Moreno Rivas said:
“This looks like the work of a cartel, so we won’t get any answers on this one.
“We might as well chalk this case up as a suicide.
“I don’t think anyone will lose any sleep over that, will they?
“We heard what this guy had done to those kids, so let’s just leave it there.”
Ataulfo admitted to sexually assaulting well over two dozen children, many of whom were indigenous young girls from Oaxaca, a state in southern Mexico known for its large indigenous population. The mother of one of the priest’s victims wrote a letter to The Pope asking to meet with him in Rome to discuss the case, but was shunned by the Vatican who declared that “the matter is closed.”
Due to the significant influence that the Catholic Church wields in Mexico, the priest didn’t face any criminal charges, particularly for his crimes in areas populated by indigenous ethnic groups. The report which first appeared on the Spanish language news site Urgente24.com, says the priest was absolved of any wrongdoing by the Archdiocese of Mexico.
Earlier this year, Pope Francis announced that the church would be reducing penalties for pedophile priests by relocating them to a different church and offering them support rather than punishing them. The Pope said that the controversial measures were designed to create a “more merciful church.” According to The Daily Mail, 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 was 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.