Catholics take to social media to mourn death of Bishop Emeritus Hubertus Leteng
Bishop Emeritus Hubertus Leteng died on July 31 at Borromeus Hospital in Bandung, West Java province. He was 63. (Photo supplied)
An Indonesian bishop forced to resign five years ago amid accusations by his own priests that he embezzled Church funds and had an affair with a woman has died.
Bishop Emeritus Hubertus Leteng died on July 31 in Borromeus Hospital in Bandung, West Java province. He was 63.
The bishop had served at St. Mary Garut parish, Bandung diocese since 2018, a year after he resigned as Bishop of Ruteng on Flores where he had served since 2010 following protests by his priests.
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Bishop Antonius Subianto Bunjamin of Bandung said Bishop Leteng had complained of shortness of breath before being hospitalized a week prior to his death.
Bishop Leteng made headlines in 2017, when 69 priests in Ruteng diocese protested against him for allegedly borrowing $94,000 from the Indonesian Bishops' Conference and $30,000 from the diocese without providing accountability reports.
The bishop claimed the money was used to fund the education of poor youths in the United States, but declined to give further details.
"Because he was so kind, he was taken advantage of by certain people"
The rebel priests claimed the money was given to a woman they suspected of having an affair with the bishop. The supposed affair emerged in 2014 after a former priest made the allegations public.
The Vatican then appointed Bishop Bunjamin, who is also the secretary-general of the Indonesian Bishops' Conference, as an apostolic visitator to carry out the investigation, which led to the resignation of Bishop Leteng.
The Vatican did not provide a reason for the resignation, but Church sources later said Bishop Leteng was ordered to return the money and cut ties with the woman.
During a Requiem Mass for the late prelate, Bishop Bunjamin briefly touched on the resignation, which he said Bishop Leteng did "willingly," and "for the good of all."
He said that during his five years in his diocese, he came to know the bishop as a person who cared deeply about the plight of others and "because he was so kind, he was taken advantage of by certain people."
He said the bishop sought help for others, which sometimes made him thoughtful and restless, right up to the end of his life.
Bishop Bunjamin said it was clear that Bishop Leteng did not think about his own interests.
“Look at his life, what he wore on his body! Was there luxury? What was kept in his room, was there luxury? What was his work equipment, was there luxury? There wasn't any!"
While in Bandung diocese, the bishop regularly shared written reflections on social media, wrote books and also provided recollections and sacrament services to the faithful.
Meanwhile, Catholics in Ruteng diocese mourned his death and took to social media to share their love of the bishop and remembered his support for social issues before the scandal emerged.
Bishop Leteng stood at the forefront of opposing mining companies in his area which were protested against by locals. He also led priests in protests against the privatization of public beaches in Labuan Bajo, a thriving tourism area.
“Despite all the controversies that existed and were attached to him because of his human weakness, it is honest to say that he was a pastoral figure who was consistent with what is believed and considered to be a choice and the way of truth,” said Father Alsis Goa Wonga, a Franciscan priest who campaigns against mining in Ruteng diocese.
According to a Ruteng diocesan statement, the bishop's body departed for Flores on Aug. 1 and will be buried on Aug. 3 next to the cathedral after a Mass to be presided over by Bishop Siprianus Hormat of Ruteng.
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