On Thursday, the Vatican admitted it had secretly punished Bishop of East Timor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Carlos Ximenes Belo in response to allegations of sexual abuse of boys two years ago.
Confirmation The Vatican it came in response to journalists’ questions following an article that appeared in the Dutch “De Groene Amsterdammer”. In its report, the magazine featured the stories of two men who said Belo raped them when they were 14 and 15.
The publication reported that Belo was alleged to have sexually abused other boys in East Timor. Some events were supposed to take place at the bishop’s residence in the capital city of Dili. Journalists said they have evidence that Belo also sexually abused boys in the 1990s when he was a priest.
Vatican statement on Carlos Ximenes Belo
In a statement, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said the Vatican’s doctrinal bureau, which deals with sexual abuse cases, first got involved in the case in 2019 “in light of the accusations it has received for its bishopric office.”
In 2020, the spokesman said, the Vatican imposed “disciplinary restrictions” on Belo, including “restrictions on his movement and ministry, a ban on voluntary contact with minors and giving interviews.”
Bruni said the measures were “modified and strengthened” in 2021, but did not provide details. A Vatican spokesman added that the bishop “formally accepted” the restrictions each time.
Belo and his activities in East Timor
74-year-old Belo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 with the current president of East Timor, José Ramos-Horta, for his work to end the conflict in the country.
The Norwegian Nobel committee – singling him out – argued that Belo “helped shed light on the East Timor massacre” perpetrated by the Indonesian military in 1991.
In 2002, Belo resigned as apostolic administrator of the diocese of Dili, citing health reasons. After resigning, he worked as a missionary in St. Mozambiqueand later settled in Portugalwhere he still lives.
Main photo source: Roald, Berit / NTB / PAP / EPA