ROME — Honduran Catholic officials say reports of financial irregularities in the Tegucigalpa archdiocese are aimed at discrediting the archbishop, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, a top papal adviser.
Rodriguez Maradiaga turns 75 on Dec. 29, the age when all bishops must offer their resignations to Pope Francis. An archdiocesan spokesman, Father Juan Angel Lopez, told the Honduran church’s Suyapa TV that the airing of the allegations now were aimed at pressuring the pope to accept the resignation immediately.
The Vatican on Friday confirmed Friday that Francis has ordered an investigation into allegations of financial irregularities in the Tegucigalpa archdiocese. Italian newsweekly L’Espresso said the issues include failed investments and payments by one of the cardinal’s deputies to an “intimate friend.”
Lopez said the allegations were an “attack on the Holy Father.”
Italian newsweekly L’Espresso said the investigation was initiated in May following allegations of failed investments, questionable expenses by one of Maradiaga’s deputies, and the ultimate destination of a 35,000 euro monthly payment to the cardinal by the Catholic University of Honduras.
Rodriguez Maradiaga’s supporters have told Catholic media the university funds — which belong to the Honduran church — are used to pay salaries and other diocesan expenses, and that such arrangements are used by other Honduran bishops.
The Vatican press office confirmed the investigation, but provided no details. Significantly, it didn’t deny L’Espresso’s report.
Rodriguez Maradiaga is one of Francis’s top cardinal advisers and a member of his parallel cabinet. He was the longtime head of the Vatican’s Caritas International charity.
The L’Espresso report said the papal investigator, Argentine Bishop Jorge Pedro Casaretto, had looked in particular into financial losses by the diocese’s media empire, failed overseas investments as well as expenditures by one of Rodriguez Maradiaga’s top deputies for an “intimate friend.”
The spokesman for the Catholic Church in Honduras, Father Juan Angel Lópéz, denied any investigation had been launched.
“What the Vatican has announced is that it will send someone to visit us … and nothing else,” he said.