Ryan Dagur, Jakarta and Ronaldus Tarsan, Ruteng
Updated: October 24, 2017 04:55 AM GMT
Bishop Hubertus Leteng in this file photo. (ucanews.com photo)
Rebel priests in Indonesia's Ruteng Diocese have appealed to the Vatican to intervene and resolve a bitter dispute with their bishop, whom they accuse of misappropriating more than US$100,000 in church funds.
Representatives of the priests, accompanied by a bishops' conference official met Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi, the outgoing apostolic nuncio in Indonesia on June 16 to call on the Vatican to help them achieve their demand that Bishop Hubertus Leteng heed their calls for a complete overhaul of how the diocese is run.
The move comes after dozens of priests in the diocese on Catholic-majority Flores Island quit their posts in protest against their bishop.
Father Alfonsius Segar, one of the priests who met the nuncio, told ucanews.com that Archbishop Filipazzi has promised to help resolve the dispute.
"He will immediately take this issue up with the Vatican," Father Segar said.
Father Segar also said the nuncio will send someone to the diocese to appraise the situation.
"We are looking forward to a swift Vatican decision on this," Father Segar said.
A source close to Antonius Agus Sriyono, Indonesia’s Ambassador at the Vatican told ucanews.com that the Indonesian government was also raising the Ruteng dispute with the Vatican.
That source said the ambassador is trying to collect evidence related to allegations against Bishop Leteng and would summon witnesses to the Vatican if necessary.
On June 12, 69 priests in Ruteng Diocese declared open revolt by quitting their posts as episcopal vicars and parish priests, and demanded Bishop Leteng completely change how the diocese is run.
Last year, Bishop Leteng was accused of secretly borrowing US$94,000 from the Indonesian Bishops' Conference in Jakarta and US$30,000 from the diocese but failed to provide an accountability report.
In a meeting, he told priests the money was used to finance the education of a youth from a poor family who was studying to be a pilot in the United States.
When the priests asked for details, the bishop told them that it was none of their business, the source said
However, the priests suspect 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.
….As we enter the first months of 2022, we are asking readers like you to help us keep UCA News free.
For the last 40 years, UCA News has remained the most trusted and independent Catholic news and information service from Asia. Every week, we publish nearly 100 news reports, feature stories, commentaries, podcasts and video broadcasts that are exclusive and in-depth, and developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes.
Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to – South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters who cover 23 countries in south, southeast, and east Asia. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don’t have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.