Management gurus tell us, “Personnel is policy.” Southern mothers say it differently. “You can tell everything about someone from his friends.” Historians will look at the men Pope Francis promoted. They will draw interesting conclusions.
Meet one of the pope’s closest aides. Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga. He faces appalling charges of financial corruption. They keep getting worse. Maradiaga’s handpicked deputy stands accused of sex abuse.
We will deep-dive into the latest scoop about the “Red cardinal.” But first let’s review some other men Francis boosted. (Be sure to click on the links for more.)
Pope Francis’s Renaissance Cardinals and Advisors
Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Belgium. Pope John Paul II criticized him publicly. The reason? For allowing the complete collapse of faith in his country. Danneels waved on the legalization of abortion. And same sex marriage. He retired in disgrace. Danneels had bullied into silence a young man abused by a bishop. (The bullying turned up on audiotape.) The coverup led Belgian police to pry open a dead bishop’s coffin. Why? To see if Daneels had hidden documents there. Pope Francis plucked Danneels out of obscurity. He asked him to address the 2014 Synod on the Family. (Fair’s fair. Danneels had pushed Francis for pope in 2005.)
Bishop Marcel Sorondo. In 2015 he vaunted Pope Francis’ statements on climate change. He claimed they’re of equal weight to the Church’s 2000-year stance on abortion. He recently praised church-smashing Red China. As a better example of “Catholic social teaching” than the U.S. Sorondo serves Pope Francis as the highest church spokesman on both natural and social sciences.
Fr. Antonio Spadaro. He edits the quasi-official Vatican magazine La Civilta Cattolica. In 2016, he denounced Catholic pro-lifers and their Protestant allies. How? As advocates of “theocracy.” He also smeared the Christian Right. He claimed it opposes civil rights for minorities.
Archbishop Víctor Manuel “Tucho” Fernández. He’s widely cited as the “ghostwriter” for Francis’ Amoris Laetitiae. (A part of the baffling statement apparently reverses 2,000 years of Catholic practice on divorce.) Fernández also wrote Heal Me With Your Mouth: The Art of Kissing. As Andrew Guernsey wrote, “This book, filled with erotic poetry and images, and written by a priest, now an archbishop, who took a vow of celibacy, provides disconcerting insights into the bizarre mind of one of the world’s most powerful theologians.”
Father James Martin, SJ, a gadfly media courtesan. He works to obscure the 6,000 year-old teaching on homosexual activity. Martin praised same-sex couples kissing during Mass. Martin encouraged priests to get ready for same-sex marriage prep. He called for bishops to condemn doctrinally faithful Catholic laymen for what they write online. Martin also twisted the teaching of his own order’s founder, Ignatius of Loyola. The goal? To claim that Jesus “wants” priests to apostasize in the face of persecution. Pope Francis made Martin a special adviser on communications to the Vatican.
The Court of the Red Cardinal
Now to the Red Cardinal. Many have called Maradiaga the “vice-pope.” He was widely seen as a new broom. He would clean out decades-old financial corruption at places like the Vatican bank. Certainly, his frequently Leninist rhetoric fits someone driving out the money-changers. In a vaunting address at the University of Dallas, Maradiaga quoted Fidel Castro fanboy Jean Ziegler.
Maradiaga denounced the “world dictatorship of finance capital. … The lords of financial capital wield over billions of human beings a power of life and death. Through their investment strategies, their stock market speculations, their alliances, they decide day to day who has the right to live on this planet and who is doomed to die.”
Speaking for himself, Maradiaga dismissed systems like America’s. He damned “neoliberal dictatorships that rule democracies.” He warned, “To change the system, it would be necessary to destroy the power of the new feudal lords.”
But Maradiaga seems to have more in common with Marxist politicians than we thought. In socialist systems from Venezuela to Soviet Russia, the oligarchs might sound like ascetics. But in fact they live like Tsars. The only lubricant that can make a system as inhuman and pseudo-rational as socialism function at all is corruption. As socialists seek absolute power, they get corrupted absolutely. Or maybe a certain kind of envy-ridden, ruthless person craves socialism in the first place. So his palm is primed for grease.
The healing balm of hidden cash has been flowing. The centrist outlet Catholic News Agency cited Italian magazine L’Espresso. Apparently:
Maradiaga may have been involved in mismanaging Church funds, and may also have accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Catholic University of Tegucigalpa.
The article said that Maradiaga is being accused of investing more than $1.2 million in some London financial companies, including Leman Wealth Management. Some of that money has now vanished, it said.
Casaretto’s report was based on accounts from more than 50 witnesses, including diocesan staff members and priests, L’Espresso said.
That magazine kept digging. It turned up Martha Alegria Reichmann. She and her husband were longtime friends of the cardinal. She accuses him of fleecing her and her family of their savings. As Google translates the Italian text of that piece, Reichmann said of Maradiaga:
“In 2012, he pushed me and my husband to invest a lot of money into a London investment fund. Managed by a Muslim friend, Youssry Henien, who then disappeared into nothing with our money.
“We realized we were cheated. We did investigations, and found that this financier was already finished in the past in similar situations. I tried to contact Maradiaga, but was denied for months and months. I went to the Tegucigalpa cathedral when he celebrated mass, and I managed to exchange a few words. He told me that he was an injured party like us, that he too had lost money from the diocese, but he asked me for discretion.”
Then there’s Juan José Pineda Fasquelle. Maradiaga handpicked him to manage his home archdiocese in Honduras. He’s also now accused of molesting his own seminarians. The eminently mainstream National Catholic Register reports:
According to the first former seminarian’s testimony to Bishop Casaretto, Bishop Pineda “attempted to have sexual relations … without my authorization, during the period I was in service with him. In the night he came close to me and touched my intimate parts and chest. I tried to stop him. …”
The second former archdiocesan seminarian testified that he witnessed firsthand an improper relationship between Bishop Pineda and a third seminarian, during a period when all three men were undertaking pastoral work together.
Subsequently, according to the second former seminarian’s testimony, Bishop Pineda undertook a series of punitive actions against him that defamed his reputation and culminated with his expulsion from the archdiocesan seminary.
A Jewish Plot
These alleged events occurred under Maradiaga’s nose. However, the Cardinal denied that a sexual abuse scandal even exists in the church. As Alan Dershowitz pointed out, in 2002 Maradiaga dismissed the epidemic of sex-abuse cover-ups. How? As the invention of Jews in the media. They allegedly targeted the church because of its advocacy for the Palestinians.
Pope Francis seems to have launched a new Renaissance in the Vatican. It has all the corruption, hubris, sodomy and worldliness of the original. But none of the art.
This article has been updated.
John Zmirak is a Senior Editor of The Stream, and author of the new Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. He received his B.A. from Yale University in 1986, then his M.F.A. in screenwriting and fiction and his Ph.D. in English in 1996 from Louisiana State University. His focus was the English Renaissance, and the novels of Walker Percy. He taught composition at LSU and screenwriting at Tulane University, and has written screenplays for and with director Ronald Maxwell (Gods & Generals and Gettysburg). He was elected alternate delegate to the 1996 Republican Convention, representing Pat Buchanan.
He has been Press Secretary to pro-life Louisiana Governor Mike Foster, and a reporter and editor at Success magazine and Investor’s Business Daily, among other publications. His essays, poems, and other works have appeared in First Things, The Weekly Standard, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, USA Today, FrontPage Magazine, The American Conservative, The South Carolina Review, Modern Age, The Intercollegiate Review, Commonweal, and The National Catholic Register, among other venues. He has contributed to American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia and The Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought. From 2000-2004 he served as Senior Editor of Faith & Family magazine and a reporter at The National Catholic Register. During 2012 he was editor of Crisis.
He is author, co-author, or editor of eleven books, including Wilhelm Ropke: Swiss Localist, Global Economist, The Grand Inquisitor (graphic novel) and The Race to Save Our Century. He was editor of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s guide to higher education, Choosing the Right College and Collegeguide.org, for ten years, and is also editor of Disorientation: How to Go to College Without Losing Your Mind.
Help us champion truth, freedom, limited government and human dignity. Support The Stream »