The Italian newspaper, L'Espresso, reported yesterday that the Pope is investigating charges of corruption, both moral and financial, against Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodriguez Maradiaga and a close aide, Bishop Juan Jose Pineda. The allegations, L'Espresso noted, were made in a report to the Pontiff last May. Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga is in charge of the Pope's Council of Cardinals charged with reforming the priesthood in the Roman church.
According to L'Espresso, Rodriguez Maradiaga has received payments totaling more than $600,000/year from the Catholic University of Honduras, where he is Chancellor.
L'Espresso states that Rodriguez Maradiaga made questionable payments to the male friend of his nephew and close aide, Bishop Juan Jose Pineda. The Diocese, under Rodgriguez Maradiaga's control, bought and paid for an apartment for Bishop Juan Jose Pineda and his close friend, Erick Cravioto Fajardo, a Mexican who calls himself "Fray Erick" but has reportedly never taken vows. The two of them, Bishop Pineda and Eric Fajardo, have lived in an apartment together adjacent to the Cardinal in Villa Iris. An anonymous Italian source said that the report implied a close and indecorous relationship between Pineda and Fajardo. Bishop Pineda recently bought Fajardo a new apartment near the center of the city, and a new car. L'Espresso implies the funds for these purchases came from the Diocese.
L'Espresso also claims the report says that Rodriguez Maradiaga has sent millions of dollars of Diocesan money to offshore, London-based investment firms like Leman Wealth Management that ceased to exist after two years and "lost" $1.2 million of the money after depositing it in German banks. In addition, the report reportedly says that millions of dollars of Diocesan funds have been given to projects controlled by Bishop Pineda, projects that have only weakly defined goals.
The issues were investigated and the report was written by Argentinian Bishop Jorge Casaretto.
The Archdiocese of Honduras responded saying that the Catholic University supports all the Bishops of Honduras, and that it's not "personal" money, but money to further the Diocesan mission. The Archdiocese denies
that there was any kind of offshore investment as described in
L'Espresso. Bishop Pineda asked for and received a personal meeting
with the Pope to clear his name.
Padre Juan Ángel Lopez, a spokesperson for the Episcopal Conference of Honduras, told told El Heraldo that this was part of a plot to remove Cardinal Rodgriguez Maradiaga, who turns 75 next week and must submit his resignation to the Pope for consideration.