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Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, a close collaborator of Pope Francis, attends the opening Mass of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family at St. Peter's Basilica on October 5, 2014.John-Henry Westen /

ROME, August 30, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A mild-mannered English journalist has been labelled a “hitman” by a scandal-plagued cardinal.

Potentially amusing everyone who has met Ed Pentin, myself included, Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodrigues Maradiaga complained about the long-time Vatican correspondent to Periodista Digital.

“I am the victim of a ‘hit man’ who practises media harassment,” said the cardinal. “His name is Edward Pentin and he works for an EWTN newspaper called the National Catholic Register.”

Naturally we all know the name Maradiaga because he’s the incredibly influential cardinal at the heart of a seminarian sexual scandal in Honduras, is linked to a Honduran bishop accused of sexually abusing seminarians, and has been named as an episcopal “kingmaker” alongside disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick by Archbishop Carlo Viganò. But if the name Edward Pentin has a familiar ring, it may be thanks to his excellent reporting on Vatican affairs over the years, or it may be thanks to Cardinal Walter Kasper, who said a very naughty thing to reporters during the Extraordinary Synod on the Family and then claimed he didn’t say it.

After telling Pentin that African delegates’ (orthodox) views on homosexuality weren’t listened to by others in the Synod, Kasper told another journalist nearby that local bishops’ conferences must have the freedom to decide moral matters independent of the rest of the Church.  

“There must be space also for the local bishops’ conferences to solve their problems but I’d say with Africa it’s impossible [for us to solve],” he said. “But they should not tell us too much what we have to do.”

Pentin duly published these interesting opinions, and after the hue and cry and accusations of racism that followed, Kasper perhaps took what he thought the easy way out: he denied it all.

“I am shocked. I never said such a thing about Africans and would never say such a thing either,” he told (Kasper also added that he had not given an interview to Zenit, which he may have thought was true as Pentin, who also wrote for Zenit, had identified himself as a Register reporter.)

Fortunately, Pentin had recorded the interview, and you can hear it here. But before the recording itself was published, Ed’s reputation and career were on the line. Various friends and such friendly acquaintances as I fretted, fussed, and leapt to Ed’s defence on our blogs. I had met him when he came to visit Hilary White, formerly of LifeSiteNews, at her home outside Rome when she was undergoing chemotherapy. His friendliness and quiet compassion impressed me even more than his reportage.

It was Hilary’s recent blog post revealing that Cardinal Maradiaga called Pentin a “hitman” that brought my attention to the story (scroll down on her site; she also writes about Ed’s recent contretemps with man-of-two-masters Archbishop Gänswein), so hat-tip to Miss White for the laugh. As Pentin is what we in the UK call “a thoroughly good chap,” laughter at Maradiaga’s insult is the readiest response.

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Dorothy Cummings McLean is a Canadian journalist, essayist, and novelist. She earned an M.A. in English Literature from the University of Toronto and an M.Div./S.T.B. from Toronto’s Regis College. She was a columnist for the Toronto Catholic Register for nine years and has contributed to Catholic World Report. Her first book, Seraphic Singles,  was published by Novalis (2010) in Canada, Liguori in the USA, and Homo Dei in Poland. Her second, Ceremony of Innocence, was published by Ignatius Press (2013). Dorothy lives near Edinburgh, Scotland with her husband.