Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga (L)

Pope Francis ordered an investigation of  a Honduras Church, the Vatican confirmed on Friday, after an Italian magazine accused Honduran Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga of receiving large sums of money from a Catholic university for years.

“There was an investigation ordered by the Holy Father himself,” Vatican press office spokesman Greg Burke said in a statement, without giving details. Rodríguez Maradiaga is the coordinator of the investigative group created by Pope Francis to advise him on the reform of the Roman Curia.

According to L’Espresso magazine , the influential Central American cardinal received “half a million euros a year from the Catholic University of Tegucigalpa” for years.

The publication assures that Pope Francis was informed and ordered an investigation more than six months ago.

Rodriguez Maradiaga, coordinator of the Council of Cardinals for the reform of the Roman Curia, made up of nine cardinals, was considered a strong candidate for Pope and a great defender of the poor and the forgotten.

Based on several testimonies, L’Espresso says that Rodriguez Maradiaga made millions of investments in London companies, including Leman Wealth Management, “that seem to have disappeared into thin air.”

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The Vatican is concerned about the opening of an investigation by the Honduran Courts regarding large amounts of money handed over by the government to the Foundation for Education and Social Communication and the Suyapa Foundation, both belong to the Honduran Church and “under the control of Maradiaga himself,” says L’Espresso.

According to the same source, Francisco sent the Argentine bishop Jorge Casaretto to investigate “the economic holes” left by Rodríguez Maradiaga, as well as about his “catastrophic” investments.

Casaretto – the magazine adds – interviewed more than 50 people including administrative staff of the diocese, the university, priests, seminarians and their assistants, among them the auxiliary bishop of Tegucigalpa, Juan José Pineda, very close to Maradiaga.

In a statement by Emiliano Fittipaldi, who specialised in this type of research, it is maintained that “the Pope is saddened, but also determined to discover the truth”.

The Honduran cardinal was appointed cardinal in 2001 by John Paul II.

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