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Indonesia bishop resigns in finance, mistress scandal

Associated Press logoAssociated Press 11/10/2017
Pope Francis gives the thumbs up as he leaves at the end of his weekly general audience, in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino) © The Associated Press Pope Francis gives the thumbs up as he leaves at the end of his weekly general audience, in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

VATICAN CITY — A Roman Catholic bishop in Indonesia has resigned following reports that he had a mistress and siphoned off more than $100,000 in church funds.

Pope Francis on Wednesday accepted the resignation of Bishop Hubertus Leteng of Indonesia's Ruteng diocese. The Denpasar bishop, Monsignor Sylvester San, will run the diocese until a permanent replacement is found, the Vatican said.

Local Indonesian media and the Ucanews agency, which covers the Catholic Church in Asia, reported that dozens of priests resigned en masse in June to protest Leteng's administration.

The Vatican sent an investigator to look into their allegations that Leteng had a mistress and secretly borrowed $94,000 from the Indonesian bishops' conference and another $30,000 from the diocese without accounting for it.

According to Ucanews, Leteng said the money was used to finance the education of a poor youth, though he declined to provide details. He called allegations he had a relationship with a woman "slanderous."

The Vatican didn't address the scandal or explain why Leteng was retiring early. The Ruteng diocese made no mention of the allegations in its announcement of Leteng's departure Wednesday. Bishops normally submit their resignations when they reach age 75. Leteng is 58.

Catholics represent a minority in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country. The nation nevertheless is home to some 45 bishops and 4,900 Catholic priests, according to 2015 Vatican statistics.

Leteng's resignation is the latest in a handful of cases of the Vatican persuading — or in some cases strong-arming — bishops accused of wrongdoing to step down. Often the cases go unnoticed, particularly when they involve in-house financial mismanagement, because the Vatican never explains why bishops are leaving their posts.

Sometimes the scandals are well known. In the United States, two bishops accused of botching clerical sexual abuse cases resigned under Vatican pressure in 2015. More recently, Guam's archbishop was forced to step aside after he was put on trial in the Vatican for allegedly sexually abusing young boys. A decision in that case is expected soon.

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