Pope Francis’ top ‘reform’ cardinal accused of massive financial scandal
By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman
December 22, 2017
The cardinal who has led Pope Francis’ efforts to “reform” the Church is now accused of having received over 40,000 USD monthly for years from a Catholic university under his control, and of funneling millions of dollars to foreign corporations that have mysteriously lost part of the deposits.
The allegations appeared in a report that was delivered to Pope Francis in May of this year which was revealed Thursday by the Italian newspaper L’Espresso.
Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, the archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, has wielded immense influence under Francis’ papacy because the pope chose him to lead the “C9” Council of Cardinal Advisers charged with reforming the Roman Curia. He was one of the key members of the liberal faction at the Synod on the Family that has resulted in a crisis over the Church’s teaching on marriage.
According to L’Espresso, Maradiaga received, over the space of years, personal payments averaging $41,600 per month from the Catholic University of Tegucigalpa, of which he is Chancellor. In addition to the monthly pay, he is reportedly given a Christmas bonus of $64,200. In one year alone, 2015, he is accused of having taken almost $600,000 from the university, which would be equivalent of ten years pay at a normal rate of salary as a university chancellor.
Moreover, the report delivered to the pope includes an accusation that Rodriguez Maradiaga has made troubling payments to an intimate male friend of the auxiliary bishop of his archdiocese, Juan José Pineda, who lives in an apartment close to Maradiaga and who has shared his domicile with Pineda.
L’Espresso quotes an anonymous missionary familiar with the finances of the Archdiocese of Tegucigalpa, who claims that “there are expenditures that go to the close friends of Pineda, among them a Mexican who calls himself ‘Fr. Erick,’ but has never taken vows. This person . . . has lived for years in an apartment adjacent to the cardinal in Villa Iris. Pineda, who has lived with him under the same roof, has recently purchased for him an apartment in the center of the city and an automobile.”
“Our fear is that the money might come from the university or the diocese,” the source added. “We have denounced this close and indecorous relationship to the Vatican as well. The pope knows all about it.”
The report also indicates that Rodriguez Maradiaga has sent millions of dollars in archdiocesan funds to a financial services company, “Leman Wealth Management,” that ceased to exist after only two years in business, and which lost some of the money after having deposited it in German banks. In addition, more than a million in diocesan media earnings has reportedly been given to projects controlled by Bishop Pineda that witnesses say have only vaguely defined purposes.
The accusations contained in the report were gathered from about fifty witnesses, according to L’Espresso, and include diocesan administrators, clergymen, and even the cardinal’s secretary and chauffeur. They are contained in a report made by the Argentinean bishop Jorge Pedro Casaretto, commissioned to investigate the matter by the pope himself.
“The pope is suffering and is sad, but also he is very determined to discover the truth,” one source from within the pope’s residence of Casa Santa Marta told L’Espresso. The newspaper reports that the pope has reserved to himself the authority to decide on the case. It appears that he has not yet acted against Rodriguez Maradiaga after having received the report more than six months ago, although he has the option of accepting the cardinal’s resignation in late December, when he is requested by canon law to submit it to the pope.
Rodriguez Maradiaga is a staunch defender of giving Holy Communion to divorced and invalidly remarried couples, and has made a name for himself by his bulldog-like attacks on the four “Dubia Cardinals” who have asked Pope Francis to clarify his teaching on the topic. He has accused the cardinals of a “new pharisaism” and of wanting to make the Catholic Church go “backwards,” and says of Cardinal Raymond Burke in particular that he is a “poor” and “disappointed man” who “wanted power and lost it.”
Billionaire activist George Soros’ “Open Societies Foundation” sought to use the cardinal’s influence when it spent $650,000 to exploit Pope Francis’ September 2015 visit to the United States for ideological purposes, according to an internal Open Societies Foundation report published by Wikileaks.
Earlier this year, the Maradiaga-led Council of Cardinal Advisers issued an unprecedented statement pledging their “loyalty” to Pope Francis, in response to an anonymous poster campaign in the city of Rome criticizing Francis’ leadership style.