He was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras and entered religious life and joined the Salesians in May 1961. He earned doctorates in philosophy, in theology from the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome and in moral theology from the Pontifical Lateran University. Ordained priest in 1970, he was rector for three years at Guatemala’s Francisco Marroquin University, until 1978. In 1993 he was named archbishop of Tegucigalpa, and was President of the Latin American Episcopal Conference from 1995 to 1999.

Archbishop Rodriguez Maradiaga was created Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria della Speranza by Pope John Paul II in the consistory of February 21, 2001. He is the first cardinal from Honduras. In addition to his episcopal responsibilities he is currently the President of the Episcopal Conference of Honduras. Archbishop Rodriguez Maradiaga was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI and in the conclave that elected Pope Francis in 2013.In June 5, 2007 Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga was elected President of Caritas Confederation Internationalis, a confederation of 164 Roman Catholic relief, development and social service organizations operating over 200 countries and territories worldwide. As President,the Cardinal is the global representative of this organization. His Campaign for human rights and the poor have won widespread praise as well as his efforts to broker peace accords with rebels during the Central American civil wars.

In April of 2013 was appointed by Pope Francis as coordinator of eight cardinals who will advise the central government of the Catholic Church.