Cardinal Maradiaga, one of the closest pope's confidants, says after being heavily criticized after the revelations, he has received "death threats".
(Rome) As far as Pope's confidant Cardinal Maradiaga, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa and coordinator of the C9 Cardinal's Council is concerned, ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick's crimes committed under canon law are a "private matter" and an "administrative issue".
Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga is one of the busiest figures in the current pontificate, earning him the nickname "vice-pope". Indeed, the Primate of Honduras and former President of Caritas Internationalis is said to have ambitions after Francis’ succession.
Religion Digital, the main progressive news portal in the Spanish-speaking world, published an interview with the Cardinal, which sounded a bit different in tone than he has recently.
Aberro-lobby in the Vatican a media fantasy
In January 2016, in an interview with the daily newspaper El Heraldo de Honduras, he confirmed the existence of a "gay lobby in the Vatican" that puts "pressure" on Church leadership to make decisions in their favor. Among other things, Maradiaga said at the time:
El Heraldo: Was there an infiltration of the gay community into the Vatican or a similar attempt?
Cardinal Maradiaga: Not only that, the Holy Father himself has said that there is a "lobby" in that sense. The Holy Father is slowly trying to clean it up. These are things ... you understand and there are actions to serve them pastorally, but what is wrong can not be true.
Now he is saying:
"The gay lobby in the Vatican is something that exists more in the printing ink of the media than in reality."
Cardinal Maradiaga: Papal critics have "no faith"
The comment was based on the former apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who in his famous dossier, published on the 26th of August, lists Cardinal Maradiaga as one of the ex-Cardinal McCarrick's patrons. The former Vatican top diplomat, sneered Maradiaga ironically, should know himself that the "gay lobby in the Vatican" is above all a media fantasy.
In general, the interview surprised by its non-answers, which in turn and in their way, nevertheless, also gave information.
The cardinal was specifically addressed on the Viganò dossier and the McCarrick case:
Religion Digital: The Viganò dossier accuses the Pope of covering up Cardinal McCarrick's homosexual relationships with seminarians and calls for his resignation. What do you think about this?
Cardinal Maradiaga: Making a private issue into a bomb that explodes in the world and whose splinters violate many people's beliefs does not seem right to me. I think that a management question should be spread on calmer and more objective criteria, and not with a load of bitter expressions. I think that Msgr. Viganò, whom I knew, is not the same person who writes and says these things.
Religon Digital: If it is true that Viganò informed the Pope, then why did not Francis act?
Cardinal Maradiaga: Actually, I do not know to what extent the Holy Father acted or not. This is an issue beyond my knowledge and competence. I believe that the Pope is a man of God who always acts with faith and wisdom.
Maradiaga's thesis: All is just a conspiracy against Francis
Already in the past, the Honduran cardinal had complained of a conspiracy against Pope Francis. It’s an allegation in which he repeatedly linked criticism against him with criticism of Francis, and was a victim of Franciscan critics who would attack him to actually hit Francis. Religion Digital has no problem picking up on this thesis and accentuating it.
Religion Digital: Is the Viganò dossier part of a conspiracy of the extreme right in the US that does not accept the Magisterium of Francis?
Cardinal Maradiaga: From the first moment one could perceive that there has been a reaction against Pope Francis, who wants to interfere with his teaching. Tensions are inevitable in the face of diversity, but to seek the truth and love the Church is a duty for all, especially when acting out of faith. Accepting or not accepting the person of the Pope does not come from the secular optics of sympathy and antipathy, but from that of the faith. When faith is lacking, the foundation is missing.
It is also not new that Cardinal Maradiaga, without responding directly to the criticism, denies that critics of the administration of Pope Francis have faith.
Homosexuality and priesthood
Religion Digital: Is there a gay lobby in the Vatican?
Cardinal Maradiaga: I have the impression that the idea of a gay lobby in the Vatican is disproportionate. This is something that exists more in the printing ink of newspapers than in reality. It is obvious to me that the purpose of all these expressions, charged with poison and slander, is to strike the Holy Father. But if they have no faith, the actors of this media circus will not give up their lies.
Religion Digital then wanted to get from the pope's confidant an answer to a question that has become particularly explosive and topical in the context of recent scandals. However, the cardinal owes a clear answer to a clear question. Most readers of Religion Digital and probably most of the faithful can not do anything with his answer. The non-Catholics, certainly not.
Religion Digital: Can a homosexual who has achieved a clear psychological and sexual maturity become a priest?
Cardinal Maradiaga: All Bishops' Conferences in all countries of the world are aware of the absolute and apodictic principles of the Church, such as those set forth in Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis.
The progressive medium was satisfied with that. Inquiries were waived.
Religion Digital: Did Cardinal McCarrick support the election of Francis, and did the Pope feel indebted to the North American Cardinal?
Cardinal Maradiaga: First and foremost, one has to understand the ultimate significance of this assertion in the case of Msgr. Viganò. It seems to me baseless. He was not in the conclave. I honestly do not believe it.
But that's not all.
"Hitman” and "death threats"
Two days after Religion Digital, the Italian daily Il Giornale also published an article with a sensational headline citing a conversation with Cardinal Maradiaga:
"The war in the Church does not know a truce: 'Eminence, if you speak, we'll kill'”
The author is Fabio Marchese Ragona, a journalist who has maintained close contacts with the Cardinal for many years. The subject is alleged death threats against the Honduran Cardinal..
"After the allegations and attacks of the past months, also through the dossier of Msgr. Carlo Maria Viganò, which targets the Pope and other cardinals, one of Francis' closest associates received anonymous phone calls, in Spanish, with serious death threats: If he publicly opposes those who accuse him, he will be dead."
While Cardinal Maradiaga, in an interview with Religion Digital, reneged on all his critics and those of Pope Francis, in an interview with Il Giornale he tries to give the impression that all his critics are threatening him with death.
Already on August 29, he had in an interview, described the Vaticanist Edward Pentin (EWTN, National Catholic Register) as a “hitman.” With several revelations published last spring, Pentin, a reputable professional journalist, had weighed in heavily on the Cardinal.
Allegations scratch the papabile image
But it is not only Pentin's revelations that scratch the papabile image of the archbishop of Tegucigalpa. A few days ago, a priest raised new charges, which according to Maradiaga's own account, was suspended without stating a reason and without any possibility of defending himself. The priest is the native Spaniard Bernardo Font, who addressed Pope Francis in July with an open letter.
Like ambassador widow Martha Reichmann Valladares, he feels cheated by Maradiaga.
Recently, the cardinal denounced the social networks he accuses of spreading criticism against him as "fecal networks." With respect to Il Giornale, he now more or less stated that any criticism of his person was a form of murder threat.
Observers doubt that such a defense strategy can last long, but above all that it helps Pope Francis.
They defended Maradiaga in the end of January and declared the then criticism of the cardinal for settled. But the criticism did not stop, and new revelations were added, so that in July Maradiaga had to sacrifice his right hand, Auxiliary Bishop Juan Jose Pineda, in order to keep himself. Pineda's departure, in turn, has a lot to do with homosexuality and the question of whether or not homosexuals can and should become priests, which Maradiaga answered only very evasively.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: Il Giornale / Religion Digital (Screenshots)
Trans: Tancred firstname.lastname@example.org