Cardinal Maradiaga discusses Cardinal Pell, Vatican Summit, service, and reform

The cardinal president of the “C6” Council of Cardinal Advisers recently spoke to the news portal Religión Digital about the crisis of clerical sexual abuse and coverup in the Church, as well as the reform of the Roman Curia.

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, talks with Archbishop Edgar Pena Parra, substitute secretary for general affairs in the Vatican Secretariat of State, at the start of the third day of the meeting on the protection of minors in the church at the Vatican Feb. 23, 2019. Vatican secretary of state. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The cardinal president of the “C6” Council of Cardinal Advisers, Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, recently gave an exclusive interview to the Spanish-language Catholic news portal Religión Digital. Published March 4th, the conversation touched on major issues from the crisis of clerical sexual abuse and coverup in the Church, to the reform of the Roman Curia.

Regarding the recent news of the conviction on sex abuse charges, in Australia, of Cardinal George Pell, Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga said, “It is very painful, it is very sad what happened.” Cardinal Pell was also a member of the C6 until October of last year. Late last month, it was officially announced he had been found guilty of abusing two altar servers in Melbourne in the mid-90s and is awaiting sentencing. Pell is appealing the verdict against him, about which voices from across the spectrum of opinion have expressed doubt and misgiving.

Rodriguez Maradiaga said, “The Holy Father did not accept [Pell’s] resignation because he supposed it would make it look like he thought those who accused him were right. (El Santo Padre no le aceptaba la renuncia porque suponía darle la razón a los que lo acusaban.)” Nevertheless, Cardinal Pell’s term as Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy expired on February 24th, and was not renewed.

“[Cardinal Pell] did a very good job,” Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga said. “We must remember that the first reform the Pope undertook was that of the economy, and it was not easy,” he went on to say. “Currently, the Vatican has entered the EU rules, in such a way that there is transparency: we are in compliance with EU regulations.”

Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga said there is much left to do in the way of financial reform. He noted especially the expense of the Holy See’s diplomatic commitments, and cited the Vatican Museums as the principal source of funding for operations.

“There is a lot to do,” he said. “You must consider that the Vatican is a nation-state — and a state that has a very large budget.” His Eminence went on to say, “Where does that money come from? Well, thank God there are the Vatican Museums. The budget can be sustained, thanks to the Vatican Museums’ revenues.”

Discussing the recent “anti-pederasty summit” in Rome — as RD described it — the interviewer asked: “Victims continue to demand more concrete steps. What can be offered to them, what can they be told?” Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga responded:

What the victims, what we all should know, is that it is not a problem that comes from yesterday, but from 40 or 50 years ago, and that this path is irreversible. I would ask the victims to try to reconcile and live in peace, knowing that the Pope is doing what he has to do, and we will all try to ensure that these abuses are never repeated.

Survivor and victim-advocate groups are unlikely to be satisfied with any reconciliation, and unable to achieve any real measure of peace, absent a reckoning. “We clearly think something can be done,” said survivor Marek Lisinski to the New York Times on the sidelines of the February meeting, ahead of which he met the Pope and delivered a report on the state of the crisis in his native Poland, “and we are waiting for specific actions.” Mr. Lisinski’s abuser is a priest who reportedly remains in ministry.

Rodriguez Maradiaga’s own auxiliary in his home Archdiocese of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Bishop Juan José Pineda Fasquelle, was forced to resign his post just last year in the wake of accusations he serially abused seminarians. Cases of abuse and episcopal coverup rather more recent than two decades or a half-century ago continue to emerge around the world.

“[I]f [bishops] don’t have cases now,” Fr. Hans Zollner SJ, who heads the Centre for Child Protection at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University, told the New York Times, “[it is] because people haven’t started to speak about it.”

Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga’s interviewer then asked about the role of the pontifical secret, noting that several cardinals talked about ending the practice of trying cases under it. “To speak today of pontifical secret is almost like a paradox,” Rodriguez Maradiaga said, adding:

The sacramental secret will always be kept — it would be impossible to end it — but certain things that were previously recommended to be handled stealthily, now, with the new rules, must be taken to court. Victims of abuse have to know that any complaint will be brought to court.

That seems to be fairly in line with the remarks other senior Churchmen made during the four-day meeting. “The reporting of an offense [to law enforcement] should not be impeded by the official secret or confidentiality rules,” said Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, one of the meeting’s principal organizers. “Secrecy must go out the window,” said another participant, Archbishop and Primate of All Ireland, Eamon Martin of Armagh, told Crux in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the meeting. “Secrecy,” Martin said, “has been one of the root causes of the problem we are in today.”

Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga also spoke of the reform of the Roman Curia, which the “C6” Council of Cardinal Advisers he leads has overseen.

“Do not expect extraordinary things,” Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga said. “There were many dicasteries that have been unified, but above all, it is the spirit of the [Apostolic] Constitution [Praedicate evangelium].”

If people formerly thought of the general structure of power in the Church as a pyramid, with the Pope at the top, the Curia in the middle, and the bishops’ conferences on the bottom, Rodriguez Maradiaga said, “At present, it is insisted that the Curia is not an agency of power, but of service, which also serves the episcopal conferences, and there will be a much greater role for the national episcopates.”

The reform of the Roman Curia is one thing. Reform of the Church’s whole power structure is quite another. In any case, when men in power say theirs is not power, but service, those they serve tend to be skeptical.

The next step: sending the draft of the Apostolic Constitution to the bishops’ conferences. “The Constitution is already done,” Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga told RD. “We are in the stage of translation to the different languages, then a consultation will come to the episcopal conferences, and later it will be the promulgation on the part of the Pope.”


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About Christopher R. Altieri 110 Articles
Christopher R. Altieri is a journalist, writer, and editor based in Rome, Italy. He spent more than a dozen years on the news desk at Vatican Radio. He holds the PhD from the Pontifical Gregorian University, and is the author of The Soul of a Nation: America as a Tradition of Inquiry and Nationhood.

12 Comments

  1. Maradiaga is a man of the lie, whose career is devoted to extinguishing the light of Christ, and suffocating the Gospel.

    Abuse is from 40-50 years ago is it?

    In other words – now that Maradiaga and his friend former Cardinal Bergoglio are in charge, they and their friends will keep offending The Lord and abusing His Church, and will persecute faithful Catholic priests and nuns like the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, and the Little Sisters of Mary Mither of the Redeemer, while pretending that they are not covering up the sex abuse and unchastity on which they built their “careers” in the “field of religion.”

    The sign of moral emptiness is that Pope Francis has not even bothered to publicly ask ex-Cardinal McCarrick to repent and seek forgiveness, for the sake of the Church. He has left that to be done by the conscientious Bishop for whom he has contempt: Archbishop Viganò. Francis cannot do what Viganò did, because he doesn’t care about the 6th Commandment, which often indicates that such a man really doesn’t care much about the 1st Three Commandments…which is the cult of “his friend” McCarrick.

    • March 9th: Why is Maradiago involved in any kind of reform movement? Isn’t he also involved in cover up and perhaps more? Why are corrupt clergy permitted to be so brazen and condescending? Pope Francis should clean out his ‘cabinet’ and bring in Bishops known for their holiness of life?

    • I agree totally with this assessment! When good people stay silent, chaos ensues! We as devoted lay Catholics must use any means possible to support our true believes and expose Cardinals like Maradiaga. If we don’t, when we fact God what are we going to say? Does anyone out there know of a lay organized group trying to speak the truth and get these tainted Cardinals to fess up! Please come forward so that I may lend my voice!

  2. It is a relief seeing some acknowledgement that the Pontifical Secret has played a role in the cover-up crisis. More needs to come out in the open about this.

    Regarding the Cardinal’s advice to victims to reconcile: forgiveness is imperative for the health and well-being of the victims, their families and the whole Church, but forgiveness does not require that the cries for justice be abandoned. By the way, the abuse in the Church has been going on for longer than 40 or 50 years.

  3. Maradiaga is corrupt to the core. In addition to covering up sexual abuse he has also taken funds given to the Catholic Church by the Honduran Government and deposited those funds in foreign bank accounts (primarily in London) instead of using it for the benefit of his Church and people. He is also an antisemite who blamed the “Jewish media” for reporting on the sex abuse crisis when it first arose in 2002.

    He is nothing more than a Latin McCarrick in my opinion and any “reform” he is associated with will be poisonously tainted. He, Gracias, Cupich, Farrell, Tobin, Cocopalmiero and Daneels and other members of the homosexual mafia need to be purged from their leadership positions in the Church.

  4. Why has there been NOTHING mentioned about McCarrick as to how he rose so quickly? Nothing has be even spoke of! I suspect the Holy See is hoping this will blow over! IT WILL NOT AS LONG AS I HAVE A VOICE AND CAN SPEAK OUT! SHAME ON THOSE CARDINALS WHO FOLLOW THE LEAD OF POPE FRANCIS! Don’t get me wrong, I love the Catholic Church but I love God more!

    • McCarrick rose to power under Pope John Paul II. He was already retired when Pope Francis was elected. So did Pell, Barbarin and Maradiaga. Pointing the finger at Pope Francis is misplaced. Maybe when they don’t mention what happened to not ascribe blame to the Saint.

  5. As a Catholic revert I triy to follow the traditional teschings of The Church up to the ’92 Catechism. The Church if my parish is a 135 year old Cathedral so the surroundings/aesthetics and reverent. Even though I find many sermons abd the NO celebration less than optimal, I try to stay focused on worthy reception of the Sacraments and simoky ignire priniuncenents frim Rimecwhuch I find unacceptabl, or which seem to be dissembling doublespeak from Francis’ sychophants.

    I pray that The Holy Spirit and Our Lady see fit to keep the faithful in The Church safe and The Sacraments valid and efficacious until Our Lord’s return.
    I also pray they rid The Church of obfuscating heretics if every stripe and dishonest clerics by revealing their lies and deception.

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