Cardinal Maradiga with the now retired auxiliary bishop Pineda. In Honduras, the serious allegations have not been investigated and worked on. An online newspaper calls for a “thorough investigation.”
(Tegucigalpa) In late July, at about the same time as Cardinal Theodore McCarrick had to renounce his cardinalatial dignity, a suffragan Bishop was also lost. The two cases have many parallels and also a similarity refarding how Rome deals with them. In both cases, the problem could not be eliminated, because the will for real purification seems to be lacking.
In the context of the McCarrick case, the dossier of former Apostolic Nuncio to the US, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, is putting pressure on Pope Francis. The head of the Church is silent and hopes that things will soon be forgotten in this fast-moving time.
The second case, which concerns the Archdiocese of Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga in Honduras, continues to be a major problem. Like McCarrick, Cardinal Maradiaga is very close to the papal line. In July, Maradiaga's right-hand man, Auxiliary Bishop Juan Jose Pineda Fasquelle, was forced to resign because of sexual abuse and a double homosexual life. However, the matter was handled slightly differently from the McCarrick case. The New York Times even reported about the now ex-cardinal from the US in the summer. The Pineda case medially could be kept on a smaller flame. Officially, he did not have to resign, but had "at his own request" asked for his resignation in order to turn to "new tasks.”. This was at least the version of the Holy See and the Archdiocese of Tegucigalpa. Instead of investigating Pineda and imposing canonical sanctions on him, the Vatican helped drop everything under the table.
The reason? Pineda is a protégé of Cardinal Maradiaga, who is in turn one of Pope Francis' closest confidants and advisers and, as coordinator, key figure in the C9 Cardinal's Council for Curia Reform and World Church Leadership. Maradiaga, according to Tosatti, has also played a role in important episcopal appointments since the election of Pope Francis, for example (with McCarrick) in the appointment of Blaise Cupich as Archbishop of Chicago and Peña Parra as the new substitute of the Vatican Secretariat of State.
"Big problems" not overcome
The Vatican's Marco Tosatti, about four months after Pineda's "voluntary" resignation, took a look at the situation in the Honduran Archdiocese. His conclusion: the "great problems" in the Diocese of Cardinal Maradiaga and in the whole Church of Honduras have not been overcome.
On the 8th and 16th of November, the "credible" Honduran online newspaper ConfidencialHN published the story of a "key witness" and new documents, Tosatti said.
"They not only confirm many of the allegations against the former, disgraced Auxiliary Bishop of Tegucigalpa, but also provide new details of the case."
Initial reports on Pineda were published outside Honduras by the Italian weekly magazine L'Espresso at the turn of the year 2017/2018 and were directly related to Cardinal Maradiaga. It has been revealed that the cardinal receives $600,000 in extra donations a year from the Catholic University of Honduras, of which he is the Grand Chancellor (see also The Dark Side of Cardinal Maradiaga and "Cardinal Maradiaga, the right hand of Pope Francis cheated us ").
Pope Francis, however, immediately took his confidant under his protection and indicated that he wanted to cling to him. Since then, his "right hand" in the archdiocese of Tegucigalpa moved more into the glare of the headlights What was revealed was astonishing.
Allegations against Auxiliary Bishop Pineda
Auxiliary Bishop Pineda was accused of having sexually corrupted and abused seminarians of the central seminary. Forty-eight of a total of 180 Honduran seminarians wrote a letter of protest last June to draw attention to the unsustainable conditions in the seminary. Already in 2016, the former Rector had revoked Pineda’s teaching authority and banned to his house. Cardinal Maradiaga, however, came to the aid of his auxiliary bishop, stopping the Rector and giving Pineda access to the seminary again in 2017.
Bishop Pineda "wasted money on lovers, cars, motorcycles and real estate"
Pineda was also accused of not only hunting for sex objects in the seminary, but also playing a number of homosexual games outside the seminary. With one of them, the Mexican Cravioto, he maintained a homosexual relationship for a long time in the archiepiscopal palace Villa Iris - next door to Cardinal Maradiaga. He does not want to hear any of this and continues to deny the gay double life of his Adlatus (see Maradiaga - the blind cardinal).
Pineda was also accused of loosely handling the archdiocese's finances in order to afford his sexual escapades. When the sex games with Cravioto in the archiepiscopal palace were already causing too much talk, Pineda apparently had rented or bought an apartment in the old town for him. A number of cash flows for the Archdiocese were allegedly poured into the auxiliary accounts of the auxiliary bishop, including government grants, like the National Catholic Register reported in March. Overall, Pineda is said to have appropriated $ 1.3 million of state subsidies granted for charitable purposes. The money was "completely gone" according to the new sources.
The visitation report and an idle pope
The now 57-year-old Pineda headed the Archdiocese during the absence of Cardinal Maradiaga, and he was often absent since becoming cardinal in 2001. In 2005 he was even singled out by certain media as Papabile.
The allegations of moral and financial nature against Pineda led to an apostolic visitation in the spring of 2017. Pope Francis sent a personal confidant, the Argentinean Msgr. Alcides Jorge Pedro Casaretto, emeritus bishop of San Isidro, to Tegucigalpa. He presented his report to the Pope in May 2017. Nevertheless, Cardinal Maradiaga managed to keep his protective hand over Pineda for more than another year. Pope Francis remained inactive. Finally, last July Pineda had to leave his post, but to this day he does not need to fear any legal consequences.
ConfidencialHN relies in its revelations on the statements of a key witness to the Vatican Casaretto investigation. The witness reports that Pineda visited a number of parishes to explain their projects and provide details in order to receive state subsidies. "Some priests obeyed, others did not" because they knew or suspected. The suffragan bishop applied for state subsidies, which were also granted, but did not pass on the money to the parishes.
Homosexual lovers and false priests
The author of ConfidencialHN, David Ellner Romero, also reports on the lover of Bishop Pineda, Erick Cravioto Fajardo, a Mexican layman, whom Pineda misrepresented as a priest, to receive a tax allowance for a car he bought him. It does not seem to have been the only case where Pineda falsely declared a gay lover a priest. Another lover was on Pineda's intervention, the ten-year chaplain of the Honduran police. Meanwhile, there are great doubts as to whether he has ever been ordained a priest.
Pope Francis with Cardinal Maradiaga
Cardinal Maradiaga signed all documents. Ellner Romero spares the cardinal and writes that the documents involving the "plunder of state funds" by Pineda were apparently faked "so well" that the cardinal could not have seen through the "true intentions" of his auxiliary bishop. Others have considerable doubts about that.
According to ConfidencialHN, Pineda has used the money to "pay for, among other things, sexual favors, to entertain a network of lovers, buy various real estate, cars and motorcycles, and travel abroad with a paid lover." The allegations are listed in detail on the website, as well as the homosexual practices of the bishop.
The witness not only confirms Pineda's homosexual relationship with Cravioto, but also with others. Although everything was done "secretly,” but not so secret that it would have gone unnoticed.
Oscarito and the Valle de Angeles
When Pineda visited parishes, he often took with him a man named Oscarito, whom he introduced as his "assistant". Although three people had to be accommodated, including the driver, he always reserved only two rooms. Pineda slept with Oscarito in the same room.
Pineda, according to the witness, often brought ministrants to the Valle de Angeles, including seminarians who assisted him in the Mass. "In the house there was only one bedroom with a bed and a divan, and he [Pineda] stayed there with two children. The strange thing was: The next morning, when we had breakfast, the divan was unused. That is, he slept with them in bed,” says the testimony found in the Vatican investigation report.
When Pineda parted company with Cravioto, Auxiliary Bishop Oscarito became a lover, while Cravioto lived out homosexuality with a certain Denis who received a full scholarship from the Catholic University of Honduras.
Cravioto and Denis had then split so hard that Pineda had to intervene to prevent things becoming worse. Cravioto then took a certain Darwin as his beloved, who in turn received a full scholarship to the Catholic University.
Ellner estimates that the $ 1.3 million that disappeared meant that someone would not shut up anymore. When the first media reports appeared abroad, the seminarians dared to voice their protest.
Pineda, according to the witness, wrote the names of a dozen priests and lay people who had betrayed him in response to the large mirrors in the Villa Iris with a red pen. This behavior is considered by the witness as an expression of "his delusional state.”
"Thorough investigation" and the special summit in the Vatican
ConfidencialHN cites other serious cases and calls for "a thorough investigation" to "shed light on the crimes committed in the bosom of the Church of Honduras."
In February 2019, Pope Francis convened a special summit on sexual abuse by clerics. In doing so, measures are to be taken to combat the phenomenon. What these should consist of is not known for the time being. It is known that on November 12, Pope Francis prevented the US Bishops' Conference from taking concrete action. The point at issue is how to deal with bishops who are guilty.
The special summit in the Vatican would also have to deal with the Pineda case. At the moment it does not look like it.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: NBQ / ConfidencialHN / Vatican.va (Screenshots)