Scores of Indonesian priests quit in protest

Scores of Indonesian priests quit their posts after accusing a bishop on the Catholic majority island of Flores of embezzling more than US$100,000 of church funds for personal use.

At least 69 priests from Ruteng Diocese submitted letters of resignation this week and demanded that Bishop Hubertus Leteng heed their calls for a complete overhaul of how the diocese is run.

According to reports, the priests say the bishop borrowed over $94,000 from the Indonesian Bishop’s Conference and an additional $30,000 from his own diocese.

He did not provide a report for these sums, and it remains unclear how the money was spent.

Priests accuse him of giving the money to a woman with whom they allege he was having an affair.

Leteng, has dismissed the allegations, calling them “slanderous.”

He says the money was given to a young man to attend flight school so he could become a commercial pilot. He added that the details were none of the priest’s business.

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.

An appeal has been made to the  the Vatican to intervene and resolve the dispute.

Representatives of the priests, accompanied by a bishops’ conference official, met Archbishop Antonio Filipazzi, the outgoing apostolic nuncio in Indonesia June 16.

Father Alfonsius Segar, one of the priests who met with 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.

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News category: Asia Pacific.

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