Vatican confirms sanction to bishop accused of abuses and who was Nobel Peace Prize

The Vatican sanctioned Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, 74, accused of sexual abuse. The Prelate received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996.

The director of the Vatican Press Office, Matteo Bruni, said in a statement Thursday that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was the “first involved in the case in 2019” and imposed some restrictions.

“This included limitations on his mobility and the exercise of his ministry, the prohibition of voluntary contact with minors, interviews and contacts with East Timor,” Bruni said.

“In November 2021 these measures were modified and reinforced. On both occasions, the measures were formally accepted by the Bishop,” said Bruni.

The statement about the Apostolic Administrator Emeritus of Dili, in East Timor, comes after the September 28 magazine De Groene Amsterdammer published a note in which two alleged victims accuse Bishop Ximenes Belo of having abused them in the 1990s.

The resignation of the Bishop in East Timor, a predominantly Catholic country, was accepted in November 2002, when he was only 54 years old; and after having served in the position for just over 14 years.

On that occasion, the Bishop alleged health reasons for his resignation.

After that, he moved to Portugal and then to Mozambique, a Portuguese-speaking country like East Timor. In Mozambique, the Prelate worked with children and young people.

The Bishop received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996, together with José Ramos-Horta, the current president of East Timor, in recognition of his work in favor of human rights, in the conflict between the small Asian country and Indonesia, a majority Muslim country. .

In 1999, three years after receiving the Nobel Prize, Indonesia attacked East Timor after the referendum in which this small Asian country freed itself from Indonesian ties.

In a wave of extreme violence, some 5,000 people take refuge with the Bishop.

On September 6 of that year, the militia attacked his residence and set it on fire. The Bishop fled but returned in October.

According to one of the witnesses interviewed by De Groene Amsterdammer, the sexual abuse occurred again after the Bishop’s return to the country.

The men interviewed by the Dutch magazine affirm that when he abused them, Bishop Ximenes Belo left them money to keep them quiet, taking advantage of the extreme poverty in the country.

In addition to the Belo case, there is another priest in East Timor accused of abuse, Fr. Richard Daschbach, found guilty in 2021 and sentenced to 12 years in prison for abusing orphaned girls.

Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo was born on February 3, 1948. He made his perpetual profession as a Salesian on September 21, 1973.

He was ordained a priest on July 26, 1980 at the age of 32.

He was appointed Apostolic Administrator of Dili on March 21, 1988 and was consecrated bishop on June 19 of the same year. He was 40 years old.

“What I want are apologies from Belo and the Church. I want them to recognize the suffering they inflicted on me and others, so that this violence and abuse of power does not happen again,” says one of the alleged victims.

“Sadness and Perplexity”

“With deep sadness and perplexity, the Portuguese Inspectorate of the Salesian Society learned of the report on the suspicion of sexual abuse of minors involving Monsignor D. Ximenes Belo”, indicates a Salesian statement published this Thursday.

The statement explains that since his appointment as bishop, Ximenes Belo does not depend on the Salesians.

“The Province of Portugal, at the request of his hierarchical superiors, received him as a guest in recent years. Since he has been in Portugal he has not had any educational or pastoral position or responsibility at the service of our Congregation”, the text states.

The statement finally indicates that “on matters related to the news we do not have the knowledge to pronounce ourselves and we refer to those who have that competence and knowledge.”

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Vatican confirms sanction to bishop accused of abuses and who was Nobel Peace Prize