washingtonpost.com  > World > Americas > Central America > Honduras > Post

Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, Honduras

Saturday, April 16, 2005; Page B09

Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, is a linguist, scientist and musician -- and a widely respected moderate cardinal in a region known for producing radical priests.

As perhaps the top candidate to become Latin America's first pope, he also is one of the few contenders to openly welcome his inclusion on the list of front-runners.

"Only the Holy Spirit knows who the successor is to His Sanctity, although it makes me happy that I'm mentioned so the world knows good things exist in Honduras," Rodriguez Maradiaga, 62, said after celebrating a recent Mass in Tegucigalpa.

Although he has spoken out against free-market policies and in defense of millions living in abject poverty in Central America, Rodriguez Maradiaga is an opponent of the "liberation theology" that once supported leftist rebellions and sought to bend the rules of orthodoxy to bring the Church closer to Indian groups and the poor.

He is the first cardinal appointed from his country of 6.8 million people and only the second from Central America. Rodriguez Maradiaga speaks or has studied Spanish, English, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, Latin and Greek. He has taught chemistry, physics and music and plays several musical instruments, with a special enthusiasm for the saxophone.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company