December 21, 2017
By Emiliano Fittipaldi
Francesco’s friend and adviser, Oscar Maradiaga, preached pauperism but received half a million a year from a University of Honduras. Bergoglio also wanted an investigation on millionaire investments and on the inappropriate behavior of Bishop Pineda, a loyalist of the cardinal
When he finished reading the inquiry drafted by the apostolic envoy he himself had sent to Honduras last May, Pope Francis’ hands went up to his skullcap. He had just found out that his friend and main councilor — powerful cardinal Oscar Maradiaga, a staunch supporter of a poor and pauperist Church and coordinator of the Council of Cardinals after he appointed him in 2013 — had received over the years from the Catholic University of Tegucigalpa around 41,600 US dollars a month, with an additional 64,200 dollars bonus in December. Bergoglio had yet to learn that several witnesses, both ecclesiastical and secular, were accusing Maradiaga of investments in some companies in London topping a 1,2 million dollars that later vanished into thin air, or that the Court of Auditors of the small Central American nation was investigating a flow of large sums of money from the Honduran government to the Foundation for Education and Social Communication and to the Suyapa Foundation, both foundations of the local Church and therefore depending on Maradiaga himself.
“The Pope is sad and saddened, but also very determined at discovering the truth,” people of his entourage at Santa Marta, his residency, explain. He wants to know every item of the investigation Argentine bishop Jorge Pedro Casaretto conducted in Honduras, on top, of course, of the final destination of the jaw-dropping sums of money obtained by the cardinal. Just in one year, 2015, as shown in an internal university report L’Espresso obtained, the cardinal received almost 600,000 dollars, a sum that according to some sources he collected for a decade in his capacity as “Grand Chancellor” of the university. However, some other rather unpleasant items account for the rest of the sums he received according to Bishop Casaretto’s report. The pope’s trustworthy person put down on paper the serious accusations many witnesses brought forward (the audits totaled around fifty witnesses and included administrative staff of the diocese and of the university, priests, seminarians and the cardinal’s driver and secretary) also against the Auxiliary Bishop of Tegucigalpa, Juan José Pineda, among the most loyal in Maradiaga’s inner circle and de facto his deputy in Central America.
After studying the dossier he received directly six months ago, Pope Francis assigned to himself all final decisions to be made.
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