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By Catholic World News, January 26, 2023
Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga as Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, one of his closest allies.
But the Vatican announcement of that resignation gives no indication that the Honduran cardinal will step down from his post as chairman of the Council of Cardinals.
At the age of 80, Cardinal Maradiaga is five years past the point at which bishops and officials of the Roman Curia are required to submit their resignations, under the terms of rules established by Pope Francis in 2018. The Pope is not required to accept a prelate’s resignation, however, and Pope Francis chose to leave Cardinal Maradiaga in office as head of the Tegucigalpa archdiocese.
Cardinal Maradiaga remained in active episcopal ministry—and in his influential post as head of the Pope’s council of advisers—despite persistent reports of financial misconduct and mismanagement in his administration of the Honduran archdiocese. The most recent complaints against him have centered on an investigation of the Catholic University of Honduras, from which the cardinal reportedly received about $500,000 annually, for which no accounting has been provided.
Cardinal Maradiaga has been the chairman of the Council of Cardinals since that body was established by Pope Francis in 2013. Although he may eventually step down from that post, the Council is marked by the presence of prelates who have retired from their pastoral duties, or continue in office beyond the normative retirement age:
Cardinal Francisco Errazuriz, the former Archbishop of Santiago, Chile, in 89;
Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, the former head of the Vatican City governorate, is 80;
Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India, in 78; and
Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston is also 78.
Thus of the eight regular members of the Council of Cardinals, five are beyond the retirement age that Pope Francis set for all bishops and Vatican officials.