Pope orders probe into finances of top Honduran adviser

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican confirmed Friday that Pope Francis had ordered up an investigation into alleged financial and other irregularities in the diocese of one of his top advisers, Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga.

Italian newsweekly L’Espresso said the investigation was initiated in May following allegations of failed investments, questionable expenses by one of Maradiaga’s deputies, and the ultimate destination of a 35,000 euro monthly payment to the cardinal by the Catholic University of Honduras.

Rodriguez Maradiaga’s supporters have told Catholic media the university funds — which belong to the Honduran church — are used to pay salaries and other diocesan expenses, and that such arrangements are used by other Honduran bishops.

The Vatican press office confirmed Friday that Francis ordered up an investigation, but provided no details. Significantly, it didn’t deny L’Espresso’s report.

Rodriguez Maradiaga is one of Francis’ top cardinal advisers and a member of his parallel cabinet. He was the longtime head of the Vatican’s Caritas International charity.

The L’Espresso report said the papal investigator, Argentine Bishop Jorge Pedro Casaretto, had looked in particular into financial losses by the diocese’s media empire, failed overseas investments as well as expenditures by one of Rodriguez Maradiaga’s top deputies for an “intimate friend.”

The spokesman for the Catholic Church in Honduras, the Rev. Juan Angel Lópéz, denied any investigation had been launched.

“What the Vatican has announced is that it will send someone to visit us … and nothing else,” he said.

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