JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNS) — Dozens of Indonesian priests have quit their posts after accusing a bishop on the Catholic majority island of Flores of embezzling more than $100,000 of church funds for personal use.
Ucanews.com reported that at least 69 priests from Ruteng Diocese submitted letters of resignation in mid-June, quitting their posts as episcopal vicars and parish priests, and demanded that Bishop Hubertus Leteng heed their calls for a complete overhaul of how the diocese is run.
Bishop Leteng told reporters June 12 that he did not want priests to leave their posts, but stepping down “was their free choice.”
“If you love the church, you must create calm among people,” he said. The bishop refused to comment about the allegations against him.
Father Marthen Chen, spokesman for the priests, said the overhaul is desperately needed “so the church can be truly in line with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”
“We demand renewal in pastoral work as well as in church and financial management,” Father Chen told reporters, without elaborating.
Some priests told ucanews.com they were forced to take action because previous attempts at dialogue with Bishop Leteng had gone nowhere.
“We would not have done this had there been a positive response to our demands,” said a member of the priests council who asked not to be named.
The priest claimed that last year, Bishop Leteng secretly borrowed $94,000 from the Indonesian bishops’ conference in Jakarta and $30,000 from the diocese, but failed to provide an accountability report.
He also said that, in a meeting, Bishop Leteng told priests that 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, he said.
Last year, 112 of 167 diocesan priests signed a letter of no confidence in the bishop, according to the priest, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The priests suspect the money went to a woman with whom the bishop is alleged to be having an affair, he said.
In 2014, a priest who claimed to know about the alleged affair left the priesthood and went public with the allegations.
At the time, the bishop called the allegation “slanderous.”
Another priest — who also wanted anonymity — confirmed that the bishops’ conference investigated the case, and a report was submitted to the Vatican.
“However, the Vatican has not taken action yet,” he told ucanews.com.
Help keep Catholic media free, support CatholicPhilly.com
You may have noticed “pay walls” greeting you when you visit the websites of newspapers and magazines, both large and small. These mechanisms allow you to read a few articles for free before you’ve got to pay an annual fee if you want to see more.
You won’t find a pay wall on CatholicPhilly.com because we’re more than a news organization. We’re informing, inspiring and forming readers in the Catholic faith every day through the news, features and commentaries that we post on this site and share across social media.
It costs money to provide high-quality coverage of the local Catholic communities we primarily serve, while also distributing national and world news of interest to Catholics, plus the orthodox teachings of the Catholic faith.
Help us in this mission by making a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
or by credit card: