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TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of a corrupt Central American cardinal and close ally.
On Thursday, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Honduran Cdl. Óscar Maradiaga. The prelate was the archbishop of Tegucigalpa in central Honduras. He was also the leader of the pope's Council of Cardinal Advisers and has been known popularly as the "vice pope."
In one interview, after accusations of corruption were leveled against him, Maradiaga revealed the pontiff telephoned him and offered an apology: "Sorry for all the evil they have done against you."
He first submitted his resignation five years ago at the mandatory age of 75, but Pope Francis refused to accept it. Last April, Maradiaga again submitted his resignation, and it took the pontiff nine months to accept it.
The cardinal is leaving behind a legacy of financial corruption and sexual abuse cover-up.
Martha Reichmann, a former friend of the prelate, wrote a recently translated book titled Sacred Betrayals: A Widow Raises Her Voice Against the Corruption of the Francis Papacy. Reichmann's late husband was Honduras' ambassador to the Holy See. Both of them were longtime friends of Maradiaga.
Martha Reichmann claims that Maradiaga betrayed her and her husband, losing their life savings in financial deals and subsequently refusing to help them. She made further claims about the prelate's involvement with the corrupt government:
Maradiaga visibly colluded with the regime that turned Honduras into a "narco-state." As president of the bishops' conference, he signed a letter supporting the 2009 coup. Then in Rome, he denied his support, perhaps because the regime was repudiated by the international community and [Maradiaga] had aspirations of the papacy.
Reichmann noted that those who continue to support Maradiaga are either naive, part of the corrupt system or "stubborn fanatics who put man first, and then God. And on his side remains his main friend and protector: Pope Francis."
In 2018, Reichmann accused Maradiaga of sheltering a homosexual bishop guilty of financial misconduct. The prelate, Auxiliary Bp. Juan Pineda, was also accused of sexually abusing seminarians.
"Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga knows everything his right hand does, Auxiliary Bp. Juan Pineda, but he has always covered and protected him," Reichmann revealed. "He does whatever it takes to rescue him. ... He has been doing it for almost 20 years."
Maradaiga also earned a reputation for going after whistleblowers. "The priests of the archdiocese have been suspended only for informing the same cardinal of the immoral acts of Bp. Pineda," noted Reichmann.
In 2017, a papal envoy investigated Maradiaga and reported that he received a $600,000 salary from the Catholic University of Tegucigalpa. Maradiaga claimed that his money all went to the diocese, despite the records showing no such entry.
In 2018, 48 seminarians signed a letter claiming there was a rampant gay culture in the major seminary of Maradiaga's archdiocese. They wrote, "Heterosexual seminarians are scandalized and really depressed." Maradiaga along with the other Honduran bishops denied the claims.
Replacing Maradiaga as bishop of Tegucigalpa is Fr. José Vicente Nácher Tatay, the parish priest of San Vicente de Paúl in San Pedro Sula. Little is known about him.
The Vatican has not revealed whether Maradiaga will continue as chairman of Pope Francis' Council of Cardinals.