Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, the Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, visited Australia in late November at the invitation of the Archbishop's Office for Evangelisation.
The Cardinal has visited Australia many times, usually on the invitation of Br Mark O'Connor FMS, the director of Melbourne's Office for Evangelisation. Cardinal Rodriguez is a Salesian priest, and currently serves as the coordinator of the Council of Cardinals appointed by Pope Francis for Curial reform.
In a whirlwind tour, the Cardinal travelled to both Sydney and Melbourne.
On 25 November, he delivered an address to the Australian Catholic Bishops' plenary meeting covering a range of topics including the Pope's encyclical Laudato Si', the recent Synod on the family, reforms in the Vatican, the Council of Cardinals and Blessed Oscar Romero of El Salvador.
He was also interviewed by Andrew West on the ABC Radio National Religion and Ethics Report.
On Thursday 26 November, eight students from Newman College joined the Rector and the Provost of the College for dinner with the Cardinal. Two students reflected upon the dinner thus:
In dining with Cardinal Rodriguez, we were given a privileged insight into the truly 'universal' nature of the Catholic Church, with the Cardinal uniquely placed to discuss both the highest levels of the Church in the Vatican and also the challenges and opportunities for the Church in places like Central and South America.
In a conversation that encompassed issues such as the future direction of the Church, the leadership of Francis and the unsustainability of the world's current environmental and economic practices, the central message Cardinal Rodriguez sought to convey was that of the Church being 'a poor church for the poor'.
Since the election of Pope Francis we have witnessed a paradigm shift in the overarching message of Catholicism. We are a church of mercy, not of judgment — of hope and action, not resignation and despair.
Cardinal Rodríguez carries this message in his heart. He reminds us of the power of prayer, the beauty of love and service, and the importance of thinking deeply about our faith. The dinner was a unique opportunity and an excellent evening.
The following evening the Cardinal spoke to a large audience over dinner at Newman College and met with Jesuit ordinands Justin Glyn and Side Pereira SJ, Bishop Greg O'Kelly SJ and other guests.
On 28 November, he addressed the Spanish-speaking community at St Brigid's Church, Fitzroy, which is under the care of the Scalabrinian congregation.
He took questions and shared about various topics, including his friendships with Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI and now Francis. He then celebrated Mass for the community.
He gave the annual Rerum Novarum lecture at the Catholic Parish of Montmorency on Sunday 29 November. He focused on the impetus of Laudato Si', the recent encyclical on care for creation.
Jesuit Communications spirituality editor Beth Doherty interviewed Cardinal Rodriguez for the PrayerPod. The interview can be downloaded here.