Nobel Peace Prize-winning bishop accused of sexually assaulting minors

He had won the Nobel Peace Prize. He was also a figure in the struggle for freedom in East Timor. Bishop Carlos Belo will face sanctions from the Vatican due to accusations of sexual abuse of underage boys for some 20 years. The Holy See, seized of this file “for the first time in 2019”, imposed disciplinary sanctions against Bishop Belo in September 2020, said in a press release the director of the press service, Matteo Bruni.

These measures include in particular “limitations on his movements and the exercise of his ministry, the prohibition of voluntary contacts with minors and contacts with East Timor”, he specified in response to journalists. “In November 2021, these measures were modified and reinforced,” the statement continues without further details, specifying that these have been formally accepted by the bishop.

Over a period of ten years

These statements come the day after the publication of an investigation by the Dutch weekly De Groene Amsterdammerreporting sexual assaults and rapes on young adolescents during the travels of the Timorese prelate in the 1980s and 1990s, with supporting testimonies.

“The bishop raped and sexually assaulted me that night. Early in the morning, he sent me away (…) He also left me some money. It was in order to silence me, ”reports a victim now 45 years old quoted by the magazine, who says he has investigated this case since 2002.

Twenty testimonials

Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1996, Bishop Belo was apostolic administrator of Dili, the capital of East Timor, from 1983 to 2002, when he submitted his resignation to John Paul II citing health reasons before be sent to Mozambique. A figure highly respected by the East Timorese, he had played a central role in the defense of human rights in the country, which became independent in 2002 after more than four centuries of Portuguese colonization and 25 years of Indonesian occupation (1975-1999).

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De Groene Amsterdammerwho evokes other victims, says he spoke with about twenty people – including political leaders and within the local Catholic Church, very influential in the country – who were aware of the behavior of Bishop Belo.

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