The Italian media are in an uproar over an alleged financial scandal involving Honduran Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga, a close friend and chief adviser to Pope Francis, who is accused of receiving over $40,000/month stipend while preaching a “poor church for the poor.”
Pope Francis is reportedly “saddened” but “determined to know the truth” after learning that his chief counsellor—the moderator of the powerful Council of Nine Cardinals (C9) in charge of the reform of the Roman Curia—has been accused of receiving enormous monthly stipends from the Catholic University of Tegucigalpa, plus an additional $64,200 bonus in December.
Several witnesses have further accused Maradiaga of making million-dollar investments in UK companies, which mysteriously disappeared overnight, and the Court of Auditors of Honduras is reportedly investigating sizable cash transfers from the Honduran government to two foundations managed by Maradiaga: the Foundation for Education and Social Communication and the Suyapa Foundation.
Maradiaga, touted for years as a contender for the papacy or “papabile,” will celebrate his 75th birthday next week, the canonical age that requires that prelates present their resignation from all government offices in the Church to the Pope.
Last October, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said in an interview that Francis had surrounded himself with a group of opportunistic advisers and informants who are lining their pockets at the Church’s expense.
“The biggest danger to the Pope these days are these opportunists, careerists and false friends who are concerned not for the good of the Church, but for their own financial interests and self-advancement,” the Cardinal said.
According to reports, Pope Francis has received a full dossier regarding investigations into the finances of the Honduran Church, and has decided to personally adjudicate the situation.
The accusations of financial misconduct by Cardinal Maradiaga were first launched by Italian journalist Emiliano Fittipaldi, who has been an ongoing critic of the Catholic Church and of the Francis pontificate in particular. Fittipaldi was one of five people tried by a Vatican tribunal for leaking confidential documents in the so-called Vatileaks 2.0 scandal regarding Vatican finances.
So far, the Vatican has not made a statement regarding the veracity of the recent reports.
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