Vatican requires Indonesian bishop to return ‘stolen money’

Light of truth

The Holy See has asked Indonesian Bishop Hubertus Leteng, who recently resigned over allegations of theft and having an affair, to return the church funds he is accused of stealing. The request over the missing money was not mentioned in an Oct. 11 announcement by Vatican of the resignation.

However, according to Father Robert Pelita, who participated in a meeting between officials of the Vatican, Indonesian Bishops’ Conference and Ruteng Diocese, the request was made directly to Bishop Leteng.

“The Vatican representative said that in principle the money must be returned,” Father Pelita told ucanews.com on October 13, although the Vatican did not say when the bishop should pay it back. Pope Francis approved the resignation of the 58-year-old bishop following the investigation into allegations that he secretly borrowed US$94,000 from the Indonesian bishops’ conference and US$30,000 from the diocese, without providing an accountability report.

However, a diocesan official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that at a recent meeting Bishop Leteng promised to return all of the funds.

Since the case went public, he has repaid 75 million rupiah (US$5,555) of the money he took from the diocese, the source said.

Bishop Leteng has said he will gradually repay money owed to the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference. Officials at the Indonesia Bishops Conference refused to comment, saying that the case is under the Vatican’s authority.

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