Pope accepts resignation of scandal-hit Indonesian bishop

Bishop Hubertus Leteng of Ruteng was accused of misappropriating church funds and keeping a mistress
Pope accepts resignation of scandal-hit Indonesian bishop

Bishop Hubertus Leteng is accused of misappropriating more than US$100,000 in church funds. (Photo by Ferdinand Ambo)

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of an Indonesian bishop who was accused by his own priests of misappropriating church funds and keeping a mistress.

The pope accepted the resignation of Bishop Hubertus Leteng of Ruteng on Oct. 11 and has appointed Bishop Silvester San of Denpasar on Bali Island as apostolic administrator until a new bishop is appointed.

Father Fabio Salerno, the Holy See's ad interim representative in Indonesia, asked priests to work with the apostolic administrator in a spirit of brotherhood, unity and harmony.

Father Agustinus Manfred Habur, the bishop's secretary, said Bishop Leteng was given 10 days to prepare his move from Ruteng.

"However, where he will be moved, that is the secret of the Vatican," he told ucanews.com.

The Vatican did not detail reasons for Bishop Leteng's resignation.

However, it is believed to result from a conflict culminating in June with 69 clerics submitting letters of resignation as episcopal vicars and parish priests.

There were allegations the bishop secretly borrowed US$94,000 from the Indonesian bishops' conference — and US$30,000 from the diocese — without providing an accountability report.

Bishop Leteng said the money was being used to fund a poor youth's education in United States, but failed to provide further details.

Rebel priests suspected the money went to a woman who they allege the bishop was having an affair with.

The alleged affair surfaced in 2014 after a priest who chose to leave the priesthood went public with the allegation.

Bishop Leteng always denied the claim, calling it "slanderous."

In August, the Vatican appointed Apostolic Visitator, Bishop Antonius Bunjamin Subianto of Bandung, to investigate the case.

 

Decision welcome

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Father Robert Pelita, one of the rebel priests, appreciated Bishop Leteng's decision to resign  as a show of humility.

Father Pelita is convinced that pastoral work will now continue as usual.

Rikard Rahmat, a layman who supported the rebel priests, said the Vatican acted quickly, not wanting the suffering of parishioners to drag on because the evidence was clear.

Jashinta Hamboer, a laywoman who previously sent an open letter to demand Bishop Leteng's resignation, welcomed the outcome as God's "beautiful work."

However, she none-the-less asked people to pray for Bishop Leteng.

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