Pope Francis today accepted the resignation of Bishop Juan Jose Pineda Fasquelle, the auxiliary bishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

The bishop was at the center of allegations of sexual abuse and financial misconduct in the archdiocese which led to an apostolic visit in May 2017 at the Pope’s request. 

The Honduran prelate was a protégé of Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodriguez Maradiaga, the archbishop of Tegucigalpa, and in recent months had been left in charge of the archdiocese in the cardinal’s absence. 

Cardinal Maradiaga is the coordinator of the C9 Group of Cardinals advising the Holy Father on Church reform. 

In March, the Register obtained testimonies from two former seminarians detailing allegations of sexual misconduct by the bishop.  The two men and others feared reprisals from the prelate for speaking out.

As well as the abuse, Bishop Pineda, 57, was also reported to have a string of intimate male friends in Honduras and abroad whom he treated with gifts. 

The bishop was also accused of financial misconduct including misuse of $1.3 million from the Honduran government earmarked for charitable projects but which “completely disappeared.” 

News of sexual and financial misconduct was first reported by the Italian magazine L'Espresso last December. 

A source with knowledge of the case told the Register July 20 that “we’ve been waiting for this day in Honduras.” 

Today’s announcement means “those who have suffered obtain partial justice,” the source added. “The Church has taken steps on the path of truth.”

But he lamented that Bishop Pineda remains a bishop and that the hierarchy “keeps covering for these abusers.” 

Backing reports also obtained from other sources, he said Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga was “aware of everything but always sided with Pineda and not the truth” and that the institutions meant to deal with these cases, such as the apostolic nunciature, “were overridden.” 

Over the past few months the Register contacted Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga and Bishop Pineda, offering both the opportunity to deny these allegations, but neither responded to our enquiries. 

“The positive thing,” the source said, “is that something is moving.”  

***

Update: July 20, 1.10pm CET 

In a statement issued today, Bishop Pineda said he had handed the Pope his resignation “several months ago,” adding that he had “tried with all my heart” to serve the “People of God” placed under his charge. 

“If I succeeded, blessed be God,” he said. “If I failed you, I apologize.”

The Honduran prelate added that “motives and reasons” for his resignation “are known by God and my superiors,” adding that he “acted in full awareness and freedom. I wish we were all wrong,” he wrote. 

His resignation, he went on to say, gave him “time for prayer, meditation, personal and continuous formation, so that, in due course, I will continue to give to the Church and to you the best of me.” He added that everyone deserves a time of “rest, formation and prayer.”

Bishop Pineda concluded: “I continue as a son of the Church; I continue forward as consecrated; I continue as minister of the Church; I continue forward at the disposition of my superiors; I ask of all of you your prayer and your mercy.”