Cardinal Deflects Attention from Scandals by Stressing Immigration

VATICAN CITY, VATICAN CITY STATE: Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras leaves the Paul VI hall at the end of the General Congregation assembly of the Cardinals at the Vatican, 14 April 2005. Cardinals start their conclave in the frescoed Sistine Chapel on April 18 and will vote twice …

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga attacked “unjust immigration policies” in his homily Sunday, deflecting attention from his scandal-plagued archdiocese and alleged financial misconduct.

In a Mass celebrated in the metropolitan cathedral of Tegucigalpa, Maradiaga said that “the world is dying because of hunger, violence and unjust policies toward migrants.”

The archbishop also asked the Hondurans to rid their lives of harshness, mistreatment, anger, indignation, insults, maleficence, and iniquity and to, instead, encourage dialogue.

In past months, the 75-year-old cardinal has faced a series of accusations involving financial mismanagement and embezzlement of funds, protecting a sexually abusive bishop, and covering up a homosexual “epidemic” in his diocesan seminary.

A letter signed by 48 seminarians and recently made public complains of widespread homosexual activity in the country’s major seminary, which has grown to the point of an “epidemic.”

One of the seminarians who signed the letter said homosexuality in the seminary “has proliferated in the past few years” because of an ongoing cover-up by Cardinal Maradiaga.

“The problem is that Cardinal Maradiaga is Pope Francis’s right hand. I think he has been lying to the Pope. The bishops here do not have power. They are afraid of the Cardinal, and too timid to make a decision,” the seminarian told the National Catholic Register.

Cardinal Maradiaga is the coordinator of the pope’s C9 council of cardinal advisers on curial reform and has sometimes been referred to as the “vice-pope” for his unparalleled influence in the Francis pontificate.

Although Maradiaga has reached the mandatory retirement age for bishops, the pope has chosen not to accept his resignation and is keeping him in place.

Maradiaga is also the president of Caritas Internationalis, a worldwide Catholic charitable organization that has spearheaded a two-year Vatican campaign on immigration called “Share the Journey.” The project, which was launched last September, aims to provoke a shift in mentality regarding immigration and encourage a more welcoming attitude toward migrants around the globe.

“Brothers, we mustn’t be afraid to share the journey! We mustn’t be afraid to share the hope!” Francis said in his weekly General Audience last September 27, in which he inaugurated the new campaign.

According to Caritas, the project was launched as a response to Pope Francis’s frequent summons for a “culture of encounter.”

Our world “faces not a migration crisis, but a crisis of global solidarity,” Caritas said on its website. “Be part of a worldwide campaign to reach out to migrants, change perceptions, open hearts and minds, and strengthen the bonds that unite us all.”

Caritas seeks to dispel common “myths about migration,” the organization declared, by educating people on “the facts behind the myths.”

These alleged myths include the idea that there are more migrants than ever, that migrants live off welfare benefits and steal jobs from citizens, that sealing borders will stem migrant flows, and that “people from poor countries migrate to rich ones,” Caritas declared.

As Cardinal Maradiaga has said, the way to slow down immigration is “not by building walls, but through development.”

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