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Pope Francis and Oscar Cardinal MaradiagaCredit: Vatican News

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (LifeSiteNews) – The scandal-ridden Honduran prelate and close advisor to Pope Francis, Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, has announced his resignation.

Vatican journalist, Marco Tosatti, reported on his blog April 26 that Maradiaga had made his resignation announcement during the Chrism Mass he celebrated in Holy Week. The announcement has likewise been reported by Aleteia.

Tossati noted that the resignation is not immediate, even though 79-year-old Maradiaga has already submitted his mandatory resignation at age 75, which has so far not been accepted by Pope Francis.

Maradiaga is the current Archbishop of Tegucigalpa and the president of the Pope’s famous “C9” council of cardinal advisers. As such, he is deemed one of the Pontiff’s closest advisors and has been dubbed the “vice-pope.”

The cardinal has been beset with reports of financial and sexual cover-up scandals for a number of years, for which he has still refused to answer. The recently translated book Sacred Betrayals: A Widow Raises Her Voice Against the Corruption of the Francis Papacy, reveals evidence that Cardinal Maradiaga covered up the sexual abuse and misconduct of his auxiliary bishop, Juan José Pineda Fasquelle, and diverted millions of dollars of Church money to fraudulent investment schemes that have since disappeared.

The book is written by Martha Alegría Reichmann, the widow of Honduras’ ambassador to the Holy See, Alejandro Valladares. Both were friends of Maradiaga for many decades, even hosting him in their home, and Valladares’ lobbying was reportedly crucial to Maradiaga becoming the first Honduran cardinal. However, Maradiaga allegedly subsequently “betrayed” them, lost their life savings in his investment schemes, and ignored their subsequent petitions for help.

Marta Reichmann responds to Maradiaga’s resignation

Now, in a message republished by Tossati, Marta Reichmann responded to the announcement of Maradiaga’s resignation, saying that “all the wickedness of this cardinal, kept hidden since the early 1980s, is coming to light.”

His resignation comes in tandem with the extradition of former Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández to the U.S. to stand trial over drug trafficking, money laundering, and crimes “committed during a dictatorship marked by absolute corruption and full of outrages against the citizens.”

Hernández, who served as president until January this year, was supported by Maradiaga,noted Reichmann. Her book states:

Rodríguez 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 Rodríguez had aspirations of the papacy.

Reichmann suggested that Maradiaga’s resignation is a direct result of being without his “friend and accomplice Juan Orlando Hernández” for “protection.”

The cardinal is being “openly repudiated by his people,” she said, who “accuse him with harsh epithets: corrupt, dishonest, traitor.” Not only this, but his priests are also welcoming his resignation, claimed Reichmann, as the cardinal “committed infamous abuses by removing several priests just because they did not go along with the whims of his beloved Bishop Pineda,” all while enjoying the “open protection” of Pope Francis.

This clerical “repudiation” of Maradiaga is based on the history of how “for twenty years he protected the terrible immoral network, also from the financial point of view, directed by the former bishop Juan José Pineda, and also for having hidden the Costa Rican priest Enrique Vasquez, arrived in Honduras on the run from the Costa Rican justice for having raped children.”

Embezzling thousands and committing the ‘most infamous of betrayals’

Reports have already highlighted suspected financial misconduct on the part of Maradiaga, particularly in local press and media.

However, Marta Reichmann, referring to research undertaken by journalist Emiliano Fittipaldi, said that Maradiaga had already personally amassed over 130 million lempiras (around $5,297,110) by 2016.

“I am a victim of this cardinal because he tricked me and my husband into making an investment that turned out to be fraudulent,” she added, referring to the groundbreaking revelations made in Sacred Betrayals. “We lost our life savings in this way. Then I became a widow, but he never gave me an explanation. He turned his back on me, committing the most infamous of betrayals after a close friendship of almost forty years.”

This “betrayal” was made easier by the “power” Maradiaga enjoyed, which was bolstered by Pope Francis, Reichmann wrote.

Retiring with ‘impunity’ after a life of ‘filth and falsehood’

With Maradiaga having already submitted his mandatory resignation to Pope Francis at the age of 75, his resignation will likely be accepted this time around. But Reichmann expressed disappointment that the cardinal would escape any service of justice for his actions.

Now he is retiring as Father Marcial Maciel retired in Mexico. With complete impunity, after leading a double life full of filth and falsehood, bringing shame to the Church of Christ and to his native country.

Some of his supporters are “humble and naive people, who do not know the truth,” she said, while “others have been part of the corrupt system of the dictatorship.” 

But the former longtime friend of Maradiaga had the strongest condemnation for Pope Francis: “Still others are stubborn fanatics who put man first, and then God. And on his side remains his main friend and protector: Pope Francis.”