A news outlet reported that 48 seminarians complained of 'gravely immoral situations' at the national seminary

The Honduran bishops conference has denied there is a “homosexual culture” at the country’s national seminary, and said that such accusations have caused “pain and scandal”.

The bishops criticised the National Catholic Register, an outlet belonging to the EWTN network, which reported the claims.

The accusations emerged just days after Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Juan José Pineda as auxiliary bishop of Tegucigalpa. No official reason was given for his early retirement, but the bishop had faced accusations of sexual and financial misconduct.

“With complete certainty and truth, we affirm there does not exist, nor has there existed, nor ought there to exist in the seminary an atmosphere as presented by the aforementioned National Catholic Register report, in which the impression is given that [the seminary] institutionally promotes and sustains practices contrary to morality and the norms of the Church, viewed with complacency by the bishops,” the bishops said.

The National Catholic Register reported an anonymous letter, signed by 48 students at the seminary, which says that they are “living and going through a time of tension in our house, due to gravely immoral situations, especially an active homosexuality within the seminary which has been a taboo during all this time”.

They claimed their superiors were “covering it up”, causing it to become an “epidemic in the seminary”.

The NCR claims that Cardinal Óscar Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa (one of Pope Francis’s main advisors) criticised the authors of the letter when he received it.

In their letter, the bishops also lamented that the claims have “disturbed” the faithful, and said the work of people at the seminary had borne “abundant fruit”. However, they said it was not surprising that amongst the fruit “weeds would appear”.

“It is evident that there are weeds and evil, especially, in making ‘anonymous’ reports; in airing them, mixing in facts, suspicions and interpretations; while ignoring the monitoring given to the challenges that arise,” they said.

“There are weeds in sexual and affective weakness, which affects all of us and can creates inappropriate attitudes and behaviours. There are weeds in sterile pessimism, in spiritual worldliness, in the search of forms of power, human glories or financial well being.”