Tempotimor (Dili) - Primeiru Ministru, Taur Matan Ruak, husu ba Prezidente Rejiaun Administrativu Espesiál Oekusi-Ambenu (RAEOA) atu esforsu viabiliza lalais lista membru autoridade ba Konsellu Ministru.
KARTA NAKLOKE BA FUNSIONÁRIU, LABARIK NO FOINSA’E SIRA IHA UMA-MAHON TOPU HONIS
Ba funsionáriu no mós labarik no foinsa’e sira ne’ebé hela iha Topu Honis, Therese ho hau hato’o ami-nia domin no felisidades. Liu tiha tinan ida ona dezde tempu ikus liubá ne’ebé ami konsege bele ba vizita imi hotu, ami sente saudades no hanoin beibeik imi loroloron.
Hau-nia irmaun Greg ne’ebé ba vizita Topu Honis dala ida ho hau, karik imi sei lembra nia, husu mai hau iha inísiu tinan ida-ne’e kona-ba saida mak loron 5 ne’ebé kmanek iha hau-nia moris, 2 hosi loron sira ne’ebé kmanek iha hau-nia moris – kleur ona uitoan – mak hau pasa ona iha Topu Honis. Iha viajen ida primeiru ne’ebé hau ho Therese halo iha tinan 2015, ne’e nu’udár esperiénsia ida kmanek tebes bainhira hasoru imi hotu ba primeiravés – nakonu ho ksolok no hamnasa, nakonu ho memórias furak hosi viajen ne’e, maibé partikularmente momentu ne’ebé mak ita pasa hamutuk iha Kutet. Loron ida seluk ne’ebé kmanek iha hau-nia moris mak viajen ida ikus ne’ebé ami halo iha fulan Juñu tinan kotuk iha-ne’ebé hau tenke kaer bís eskola nian iha Mahata. Labarik boot sira kontente tebetebes, hau sei lembra katak hau halai sala tiha dalan iha rotunda nune’e ita tenke volta fali – imi hotu hamnasa hau. Sira-ne’e mak memórias kmanek no loron hirak kmanek liu iha hau-nia moris ne’ebé hau hanoin hikas ho laran-ksolok, maibé mós ho tristeza.
Buat barak mak akontese ona ba imi-nia komunidade iha tinan kotuk no tristeza ne’e mai hosi mudansas resente ne’ebé mosu ona iha Topu Honis.
Liu tinan 4 ona dezde Therese ho hau halo vizita primeiravés ba Topu Honis no hasoru malu ho Richard Daschbach no mós ho inan no labarik sira iha Topu Honis. Durante vizita iha tinan 2015 nian ne’e Richard aprezenta ami ba imi hotu-hotu no Therese ho hau deside katak ami sei tulun Richard ho kualkér maneira ne’ebé ami bele hodi fó moris ida di’akliu ba Komunidade Topu Honis. Ami konkorda atu fornese apoiu finanseiru adisionál ba Topu Honis hodi nune’e bele halo melloria ba labarik sira-nia saúde. Hori tempu ne’ebá kedas, kada tinan, ami fornese apoiu finanseiru ba Topu Honis ho baze ida regulár.
Richard Daschbach halo buat barak, buat di’ak barak, ninia obra iha Topu Honis no ninia servisu ba Timor-Leste rekoñesidu iha mundu tomak, ema hotu ne’ebé hasoru ona nia konsidera katak nia nu’udár ema-boot ida no umanitáriu boot ida. Hau hadomi nia hanesan hadomi hau-nia maun no hau-nia aman. Maibé nia trai tiha ona fiar no konfiansa ne’ebé mak komunidade Topu Honis no povu Timor-Leste haraik ba nia iha tinan barak nia laran, no nia mós trai ona domin no konfiansa hosi ema hotu-hotu no organizasaun sira ne’ebé fornese apoiu finanseiru kontínua ba nia no komunidade Topu Honis. Hau hatene ida-ne’e loos duni tanba Richard Daschbach rasik mak hateten mai hau kona-ba saida mak nia halo ba labarik sira iha Topu Honis.
Ne’e-duni permite hau atu hateten lia-loos ba imi tuir hau-nia hatene:
Iha fulan Fevereiru 2018 hau rona katak SVD iha Dili hasai tiha ona Richard hosi Topu Honis. Hau presiza hatene loloos tansá no sira hateten mai hau katak nia halo ona abuzu seksuál ba foinsa’e feto sira ne’ebé nia tau-matan ba. Hau hakerek email ba Richard hodi husu-tuir ba nia kona-ba buat ne’ebé akontese no nia fó-hatene mai hau katak nia katuas badadaun ona no deside atu reforma hodi ba hela iha rezidénsia SVD nian iha Dili.
Foufoun susar tebes mai hau atu fiar ba akuzasaun sira-ne’e, ne’e-duni hau deside iha fulan Abríl 2018 atu ba vizita Richard iha Dili. Durante vizita ida-ne’e, hau hasoru malu ho Richard iha okaziaun 3 ketaketak, iha okaziaun rua mak nia konfesa duni mai hau katak nia seksualmente haterus-hamoe foinsa’e feto sira iha Kutet, katak nia halo abuzu ba sira no halo ona ida-ne’e ba tempu ida naruk. Bainhira hau husu nia karik nia sente neon-sala ka lae ba ninia hahalok sira-ne’e, nia dehan LAE, nia sempre sente nune’e nafatin. Saida mak nia hateten mai hau ne’e halo hau hakfodak tebes, ida-ne’e harahun tiha hau-nia domin no respeitu ba nia. Hahalok ida-ne’e la’ós deit halo hau sente hakribit katak kualkér mane ruma bele halo abuzu ba labarik sira ne’ebé mak nia tau-matan ba, maibé hau hatene tiha kedas katak ninia hahalok sira-ne’e la’ós deit buat aat maibé mós nu’udár krimes graves.
Tanba saida mak nia dehan mai hau ne’e afeta ona feto foinsa’e barak tebes iha Topu Honis, nune’e hau laiha tan opsaun seluk maibé atu halo denúnsia ba autoridade judisiál sira kona-ba buat ne’ebé mak Richard hateten ona mai hau.
Lia-loos mak ida-ne’e - Richard hato’o buat hirak-ne’e mai hau no Lily Tarung mós iha ne’ebá no rona rasik saida mak Richard hateten.
Richard nia hahalok sira-ne’e nu’udár pekadu ida hasoru Maromak, buat aat no kriminoza. Igreja Katólika nian iha Vatikanu hala’o tiha ona investigasaun ida no deside iha fulan Novembru 2018 atu hasai nia hosi Igreja Katólika – Richard la’ós ona amlulik. Nia la’ós reforma, maibé demitidu tanba deskobre katak nia halo ona abuzu seksuál ba labarik-feto sira iha Topu Honis. Investigasaun kriminál kontinua halo ba abuzu sira ne’ebé nia admiti ona, tanba ne’e-duni mak halo detensaun ba nia no mós hasai tiha nia hosi komunidade Topu Honis. Sei laiha medidas ruma ne’ebé mak foti hasoru Richard anaunsér bainhira nia konfesa duni kona-ba krime sira-ne’e no mós iha evidénsias signifikativa kontra nia.
Hau-nia desizaun hodi halo denúnsia ba konversas entre hau ho Richard ne’e ba autoridade sira atu nune’e justisa bele prevalese no nia nunka sei bele halo tan abuzu seksuál ba foinsa’e feto sira ne’ebé nia tau-matan ba.
Depoizde Richard nia konfisaun kona-ba abuzu seksuál ne’e, hau tenke foti desizaun ne’ebé difísil duni hodi hapara tiha finansiamentu ba Topu Honis. Susar tebetebes atu foti desizaun ida-ne’e tanba hau lakohi atu labarik sira iha Topu Honis sai vítimas dala ida tan. Hau hatene katak Topu Honis mak imi-nia uma no mós katak imi presiza duni hakmahan-fatin no apoiu ne’ebé nia fó. Hau koko duni atu serbisu hamutuk ho Lily Tarung ho esperansa katak, tanba nia mós rona rasik Richard konfesa kona-ba krime sira ne’ebé halo ona, entaun nia sei foti medidas sériu atu proteje labarik sira iha Topu Honis. Maibé Lily nia atuasaun sira ne’ebé apoia Richard atu fila hikas hosi SVD iha Dili hodi ba Kutete (molok polísia halo detensaun ba nia) no mós ninia vizita regulár sira ba Maliana iha-ne’ebé mak haruka nia ba iha Tribunál, halo sai imposível atu kontinua ho ami-nia apoiu finanseiru. Hau komprende katak doadór sira seluk mós hapara ona sira-nia apoiu. Ne’e buat ida normál ba doadór sira atu hapara apoiu bainhira revela ona katak abuzu ba labarik sira-ne’e akontese duni no mós bainhira instituisaun la foti medidas ruma atu suporta no proteje labarik sira.
Therese ho hau no apoiadór sira seluk Topu Honis nian hadomi no respeita imi ida-idak, imi hotu hatudu ona mai ami la’ós buat leet maibé domin no respeitu iha ami-nia vizita hotu-hotu ba iha ne’ebá. Domin no respeitu ne’ebé imi hatudu ona ne’e liu dala barak tebes fó fila hikas ba imi. La’ós atu fó-kulpa no tuir loloos la’ós atu hamoe imi ruma ba buat ne’ebé akontese ona – ne’e la’ós imi-nia salan, só Richard deit mak sai kulpadu ba ninia hahalok sira. Ninia hahalok sira-ne’e kriminál no indefensível.
Ba inan hotu-hotu iha Topu Honis: Hau dehan ba imi ida-idak katak ita hotu-hotu iha responsabilidade ida atu garante seguransa hosi labarik sira ne’ebé mak ita tau-matan ba. Ita ida-idak, inklui hau rasik, la konsege halo ida-ne’e. Hau la fó-kulpa ba imi ka ba hau-nia an rasik, maibé ita nu’udár katuas-ferik la konsege atu proteje ita-nia oan sira hosi Richard –ita devia halo buat ne’ebé di’akliu no agora ita tenke rekoñese verdade kona-ba buat ne’ebé akontese ona no ita tenke halo di’akliu iha futuru. Keta taka imi-nia matan no halo finji katak laiha alegasasun forte hasoru Richard. Ema hotu-hotu iha kapasidade atu halo buat di’ak no aat. Hau rona rasik hosi Richard katak nia halo duni abuzu ba labarik sira iha Topu Honis no agora daudaun hau fahe ho imi hotu. Ita presiza suporta labarik sira liuhosi hatudu solidariedade, ko’alia ba sira ka ajuda sira hodi asesu ba servisu sira ne’ebé bele fornese apoiu ne’ebé sira presiza. Labarik no foinsa’e sira-ne’e karik lahatene katak sira presiza duni apoiu ida hanesan ne’e no dalaruma bele dehan tan katak sira la presiza. Maibé dalabarak ida-ne’e mak reasaun hosi vitíma sira abuzu nian. Bainhira ita ignora buat ne’ebé akontese ona, ne’e katak ita sai sala-maluk hosi abuzu sira ne’ebé Richard halo tiha ona, ne’ebé mak rezulta ona iha ninia demisaun hosi igreja no detensaun hosi polísia.
Ba labarik sira iha Topu Honis [sira ne’ebé mak agora daudaun sei hela iha ne’ebá no mós sira seluk ne’ebé uluk hela iha ne’ebá]: Ema sempre halo buat di’ak no mós ema sempre halo buat aat. Buat ne’ebé Richard hateten mai hau katak nia halo ona hasoru labarik sira iha Topu Honis ne’e aat duni, no aat tebetebes. Ema sira ne’ebé halo buat aat ne’e tenke responsabiliza sira-nia hahalok; tan ne’e mak Richard demitidu hosi amlulik, hetan detensaun hosi polísia no agora daudaun tuir hela investigasaun. Ema ida nia idade ka buat di’ak sira ne’ebé mak sira halo ona iha pasadu ne’e sei nunka bele sai justifikasaun ida atu taka imi-nia matan ba buat aat ne’ebé nia halo. Rekoñesimentu ba buat aat sira ne’ebé nia halo tiha ona ne’e la signifika katak atu nega fali apoiu ne’ebé mak imi simu ona. Maske Richard mak ema ne’ebé iha ne’ebá no hela iha Topu Honis, maibé nia la fornese mesak apoiu sira-ne’e hotu no ema barak mak, realmente, suporta imi no komunidade liuhosi Richard. Apoiu ne’ebé mak imi hetan ona durante hela iha Topu Honis la signifika katak imi deve ba Richard no imi presiza selu ho imi-nia silénsiu. Buat ne’ebé sala tenke ko’alia sai. Ne’e la’ós fasil, maibé ida-ne’e mak maneira moris komunidade nian iha Timor-Leste, no ho maneira ne’e deit mak, hau fiar, Topu Honis bele hetan futuru ida ho laran-moos.
Labarik no foinsa’e sira mak hau hadomi, bainhira ema adultu sira halo hahalok seksuál ho labarik sira, kulpa ne’e nunka duun ba labarik sira. Lei no Igreja hatuur momoos ona katak ida be kulpa ne’e mak ema adultu ne’ebé aproveita ka foti vantajen hosi labarik sira. Hau rona ona katak labarik boot balun iha Topu Honis ameasa no fó presaun ba foinsa’e feto sira atu labele ko’alia sai kona-ba buat ne’ebé akontese iha Richard nia kuartu laran iha tinan barak nia laran. Hau espera katak ida-ne’e laloos tanba selae triste tebetebes bainhira haree maun sira la suporta sira-nia feton sira ne’ebé sei ki’ik.
Therese ho hau laiha tan opsaun seluk alende atu hapara tiha apoiu finanseiru ba Topu Honis. Ami sei nafatin diretamente fó apoiu finanseiru ruma ba imi nain hira ne’e ida atu remata Universidade no ami prontu nafatin atu fó apoiu iha aban-bainrua. Favór keta hanoin katak ami abandona tiha ona imi. Ami sempre prontu nafatin atu suporta imi no ami espera katak imi no Topu Honis bele sai nafatin parte importante ida hosi ami-nia moris. Maibé ami labele kontinua fó apoiu finanseiru se bainhira laiha medidas ruma ne’ebé foti atu proteje labarik sira no mós atu suporta sira.
Ba komunidade lokál tomak: Topu Honis ne’e parte hosi imi-nia komunidade no fó ona oportunidade ba imi-nia oan sira, permite sira atu eskola no hetan moris ida saudável. Labarik sira laiha tusan ba ema ruma ne’ebé suporta ona sira no sei nunka bele sai vítima ba abuzu hodi troka ka selu fali ba apoiu finanseiru no hakmahan-fatin ne’ebé sira hetan. Se ita hanoin ho forma kontráriu ne’e simplesmente signifika katak ita nega tiha umanidade bázika hosi labarik Oecusse oan sira. Hahalok aat hosi ema ida nian sei labele taka odamatan atu kontinua fó apoiu ba labarik sira ne’ebé hela iha Topu Honis no mós atu fornese apoiu iha aban-bainrua ba labarik sira ne’ebé presiza. Ami hatene katak iha tempu ida Topu Honis reprezenta duni oportunidade reál ida atu suporta labarik Oecusse oan sira hodi hetan susesu apezarde dezafiu sira. Mezmu karik Richard hala’o ona knaar ida boot iha Topu Honis no agora daudaun autoridade sira hasai ona nia tanba buat hirak ne’ebé nia konfesa katak nia halo duni ona hasoru labarik sira iha ne’ebá, maibé ami sempre hanoin katak komunidade ne’e rasik – imi hotu-hotu, kuidadu ba malu no respeita malu – bele sai forte no bele hakat ba futuru ida ne’ebé naroman liutan.
Therese ho hau sempre apresia tempu ne’ebé mak ami konsege pasa ona iha Topu Honis no mós iha Timor-Leste. Ami sempre sente katak ema hotu-hotu ne’ebé ami hasoru simu ona ami ho laran-di’ak no domin no ami sempre koko nafatin atu fila hikas ba domin ida-ne’e.
Therese ho hau espera katak Topu Honis bele funsiona nafatin, hodi kontinua tau matan ba feto no labarik sira ne’ebé buka hakmahan-fatin iha ne’ebá no mós ami espera no reza katak sei nunka iha tan foinsa’e feto sira iha fatin ne’ebé deit iha mundu, maibé partikularmente iha Topu Honis, sai tan vítima ba abuzu fíziku ka seksuál.
Topu Honis sei nunka bele sai hanesan ne’e nafatin – konfiansa barak tebes mak sai traída, maibé bele sobrevive no bele iha tranzisaun ba hakmahan-fatin ida ne’ebé di’akliu no seguru liu ba ema sira ne’ebé presiza duni. Maibé, hau fiar katak tranzisaun ida-ne’e só bele akontese bainhira ita rekoñese buat saida mak akontese ona iha pasadu no harii futuru ida ne’ebé bazeia ba domin no konfiansa, futuru ida ne’ebé garante seguransa ba feto no labarik sira ne’ebé buka protesaun.
Therese ho hau no mós maluk sira seluk ne’ebé fó ona apoiu ba Topu Honis iha pasadu sei prontu nafatin atu hafó apoiu finanseiru ba imi iha aban-bainrua se bainhira aplika duni mudansa sira ne’ebé garante labarik sira-nia seguransa, inklui estabelese estrutura jestaun ida profisionál ne’ebé ho esperiénsia ba kuidadu labarik nian, órgaun supervizaun ida formál atu monitoriza funsionamentu orfanatu/uma-mahon nian, no fornese apoiu pesoál direta ba labarik foinsa’e sira ne’ebé hela iha Topu Honis iha tinan hirak ikus ne’e hodi garante katak sira sei la sai vítima ba kualkér ameasa ka ta’uk.
Iha organizasaun apoiu lubuk ida iha Timor-Leste ne’ebé bele ajuda imi durante tranzisaun ne’e. Hau ko’alia ona ho Fokupers, organizasaun sosiedade sivíl ida rekoñesidu tebetebes ne’ebé fó apoiu ba feto no labarik sira, no sira konkorda atu prontu hodi hafó tipu apoiu balun ba labarik-feto no mós feto sira, se imi presiza/hakarak. Bele liga ba ninia Diretora, Sra. Maria José Guterres, liuhosi númeru 7624 82 98. Se karik imi mós hakarak, entaun imi bele kontaktu ba hau liuhosi Sr. Olívio Barros iha númeru 7689 17 24 no ita bele diskute kona-ba oinsá mak ami bele suporta imi hodi hakat ba oin nu’udár organizasaun ida, husik hela pasadu iha kotuk no envolve ema sira seluk ne’ebé bele tau labarik sira-nia interese iha prioridade ne’ebé aas liuhotu.
Hau hakarak duni atu fila hikas ba Topu Honis no hateke ba imi-nia matan laran no bele haree liuhosi matan sira-ne’e futuru ida naroman ne’ebé imi hotu sei hetan iha loron aban.
Ho Respeitu no Domin,
Tempotimor (Dili)-Membru Parlamentu Nasionál husi Bankada KHUNTO konsidera orsamentu estadu ne’ebé aloka ba Rejiaun Administrativu Espesial Oekusse-Ambeno (RAEOA) saugati de’it tanba la rezulta buat di’ak ida iha ne’ebá.
Tempotimor (Dili)-Prezidente Autoridade Rejiaun Administrativa Oekusse-Ambeno (RAEOA) José Luis Guteres iha ninia mandatu deteta funsionariu kontratadu iha Zona Ekonomia Espesial Sosial Merkadu (ZEESM) na'in 700 tama serbisu tanba kaer kartaun partidu politiku balun.
Tempotimor (Dili)-Kompaña Atlantic Eagle ne’ebé konstrui Ro Haksolok laiha ona kbiit atu kontinua konstrusaun ba ro refere, ho nune’e mehi Timor Leste atu iha ro ahi rasik iha posibilidade boot hela de’it mehi no sei la sai realidade.
Tempo Timor (Dili) - The SVD procurator general is currently visiting Timor-Leste to support victims of ex-priest R.D., who sexually abused children in his orphanage in Oecusse. Father Peter Dikos is positive about the growing openness in the society, but disappointed with the criminal justice system in this case for being slow, not responsive and breaking promises.
‘We never had a case of this scale in our history,’ tells priest Peter Dikos, the procurator general of Societas Verbi Divini (SVD) in Rome. In March 2018 the congregation received a complaint against R.D., accusing the SVD priest of sexually abusing young children in his shelter Topu Honis in Kutet, Oecussi. ‘From what we know so far, it was systematic abuse of girls on a daily basis. It had been going on for years and years,’ says father Dikos in an interview with Tempo Timor during his visit in Timor-Leste. As SVD procurator general Dikos investigates cases of sexual abuse by members of his congregation.
Father Dikos doesn’t doubt that R.D., who originally is an American, committed sexual crimes against Timorese children. During a conference call last year between SVD’s superiors of the generalate in Rome and the regional office in Dili, he heard the priest confessing that he sexually abused minors. When the accusations were read to him, R.D. reacted with the words: ‘It’s 100 percent true.’ In November 2018 the priest was dismissed as a member from the SVD and from the clerical status.
While the church punished the ex-priest already a year ago, Dikos notices that the Timorese authorities have been slow, not responsive and breaking promises. ‘From the very beginning it was quite a challenge’ to deal with the police, he says. The SVD took the accused confrere R.D. twice to the police and requested a document confirming they reported the suspect to the authorities. ‘The police promised to send us a written document showing we reported the case. But after many attempts, up till now, we haven’t received any proof,’ Dikos says.
He is ‘a little bit disappointed’ in the criminal justice system. ‘I would have expected that the confrere would have been detained. But that did not happen,’ states Dikos. And although SVD’s superiors heard R.D. confessing to his crimes, they were never called by the prosecution to give evidence or a statement. Dikos notes that proceedings take very long. ‘I would expect the judicial system to be more pro-active’ and that the case would have concluded long ago. ‘For me it is a big surprise that a case about such a serious crime, drags on,’ he says.
Last April R.D. was finally arrested by the Timor-Leste’s police, but not detained. Before the arrest, the prosecutor general of the republic (PGR) called the bishop of Dili to ask whether the ex-priest, who is now 82 years old but in good health, could stay on humanitarian grounds under house-arrest in the SVD residence in Maliana. The congregation accepted the arrangement, but with conditions. ‘We told the PGR: we accept him if we get a request in writing,’ Dikos explains. Other conditions were that the civil authorities had to provide security and make sure that the ex-confrere didn’t have any contact with potential victims or witnesses. ‘But nothing has been fulfilled,’ says Dikos.
Suddenly on 12 November the ex-priest decided to leave Maliana and took the ferry to Oecusse. Behind the scenes professionals, individuals and SVD worked frantically to inform the police and prosecution in Timor-Leste. When R.D. arrived in Oecusse, he was arrested and taken to the police station. Then the court decided that the ex-priest had to be returned to the SVD residence in Maliana. Last week the police took him on the ferry from Oecusse to Dili. But the SVD refused to host him in Maliana after their negative experiences with the civil authorities not fulfilling their promises to provide security and control R.D.’s movements. ‘Where our ex-confrere is now, I wouldn’t know,’ says Dikos. (Sources told Tempo Timor that he is in Academia Policia in Dili).
But about his visit to Timor-Leste Dikos is very positive. He met with the first lady and her cabinet. ‘I saw a great openness from their side,’ he said. The minister for social services is ready to help to regulate the status of Topu Honis so the shelter can continue to support children in need in Oecusse. Currently the institute, which was a private project by R.D., is run by his confidante Lily Tarung who has obstructed SVD’s efforts to get in touch with the staff and potential victims. An earlier attempt by the SVD to visit Topu Honis failed as ‘the people and the potential victims disappeared from the place,’ Dikos tells. He also had a meeting with the minister of education discussing more in general to increase awareness among students about sexual abuse. Dikos praises Fokupers and JU,S Jurídico Social calling them the ‘engine’ pushing for support and justice for the victims of the sexual abuse by the ex-priest. Later this week he will have a meeting with the PGR as well.
Justice and mercy
‘I heard people in Timor-Leste saying: “We are Christians. We are Catholics. We should forgive.” That’s nice. But we can’t neglect justice. Justice and mercy go hand in hand,’ says Dikos. He calls on all parties – government, church, the criminal justice system, NGOs, lawyers and professionals – to cooperate in this case. ‘We are creating history for Timor-Leste, because this is the first case involving a priest accused of committing sexual abuse that is being dealt with on this level,’ he says.
Dikos is travelling to Oecusse to reach out to victims and to support Fokupers, JU,S, local SVD and other professionals so they can assist survivors in the process of healing and recovering. ‘Some victims might not understand what happened to them at the time. But as they grow up, they will realise it. If they don’t open up, it can be a horrible trauma for the rest of their lives,’ Dikos says. He believes that if everybody works together, ‘slowly but certainly’ there will be justice for victims. Dikos: ‘That will be a new beginning of their life.’
Tempo Timor (Bobonaro) - The bishop of Maliana apologizes to the victims who have been sexually abused by priests, nuns and fraters. With a team he works on a system so that people can report cases of child sex abuse by the clergy to the Church. Currently he knows of only one case in Timor-Leste.
On the slopes of a hill just outside the town of Maliana lies the large white villa where bishop Norberto do Amaral lives. It is sunny, hot and quiet. Until the two dogs start barking. The bishop opens the door of his residence and agrees to an interview with Tempo Timor. Quickly he walks down a small path that takes him through the weeds and bush. Some fifteen minutes later he sits in a large black chair in the parlour of the yellow coloured diocese with pillars and red roofs. In front is a small pond with water from which a statute of Jesus rises up. The brand new buildings, paid for by the government, have only been completed some five months ago.
Last February the bishop participated in the special summit at the Vatican, which was convened by the Pope. Bishops and church leaders gathered in Rome to discuss the avalanche of cases the Catholic Church is facing in a growing number of countries where children have been sexually abused by priests, bishops, cardinals, brothers, pastors and nuns - and how to prevent these atrocities. ‘As Catholic Church we have to combat this kind of crime,’ bishop Do Amaral tells Tempo Timor, adding that because of these crimes people are now saying ‘that the Church is like Lucifer.’
In May the Pope issued a new law stating that the dioceses all over the world have to set up ‘public, stable and easily accessible systems’ to make it possible for people to report sexual abuse by clerics and religious, the use of child pornography, and cover-ups of these crimes. The new rules cover clerical abuse not only against children but also vulnerable adults, adult seminarians and novices. The Pope said that ‘the crimes of sexual abuse offend Our Lord, cause physical, psychological and spiritual damage to the victims and harm the community of the faithful.’
In Timor-Leste bishop Do Amaral is responsible for drafting the procedure which will enable people to report sexual abuse cases in the country to the Church. He explains that the Catholic Church has formed a team that discusses how the system in Timor-Leste should look like. ‘The procedure has to include how to deal with victims and how to take care of the suspect. The Pope gave us clear instructions to work closely with the courts with regard to these crimes,’ says Do Amaral. Soon he will report to the Vatican. ‘In December we will send our proposal to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for them to review. Then they will say what we have to do,’ Do Amaral explains. The system needs to be in place in June 2020. (See also: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-05/pope-francis-motu-proprio-sex-abuse-clergy-religious-church.html)
The bishop explains that the procedures will slightly differ in each country. ‘In Timor-Leste we touch, hug and caress. It means love to the children. In the USA, however, that is already considered sexual abuse. But that’s too much,’ he says. Countries like for instance Australia, Portugal or India can be an inspiration for Timor-Leste. ‘But we shouldn’t follow these people’s ass,’ states the bishop. The model has to fit the local circumstances. ‘We have our own laws, customs and rules,’ Do Amaral says.
The Pope’s law also says that it is an obligation for all clerics – men and women – that if they are aware of sexual abuse against children, cover-ups by their superiors and mismanagement of investigations, they have to ‘report promptly’ to the Church authorities. The dioceses and congregations that are already investigating such cases have to update the Vatican regularly and have to complete their work within three months.
When asked how many cases there are in Timor-Leste, bishop Do Amaral says: ‘There is only one case.’ He refers to the former priest R.D., an American who ran the shelter Topu Honis in the hamlet of Kutet in the enclave of Oecusse. In November 2018 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is responsible at the Vatican for handling these cases, found R.D. guilty of sexual crimes against minors and dismissed him as a priest. ‘The bishop of Dili told me: sometimes he confesses that he did it, but at other times he didn’t confess,’ says Do Amaral about the ex-priest who is now 82 years old, adding: ‘It might be because of his old age, that he sometimes forgets.’
But his victims can’t forget. The Timorese NGO Fokupers has published a statement of one of his victims, who describes the horrific abuse she was subjected to. The girl tells how she had to come in his bedroom where R.D. orally raped her. (See: https://fokupers.org/latest-news/2019/4/25/vtima-abuzu-seksul-iha-orfanatu-oecusse-konta-ninia-istria) According to sources the abuse at Topu Honis was systematic with R.D. allegedly sexually abusing every single young girl in the shelter at least once, molesting vulnerable children who were under his care for many years.
Last week Tony Hamilton, who is an Australian donor of Topu Honis, published an heartfelt open letter expressing his deepest sympathy to the staff, children and youth at the shelter. He tells how happy he always was to be able to visit and support them, but that until last year he didn’t know children were abused. Hamilton writes that in April 2018 he went to see R.D., who admitted twice to him personally that he had sexually molested young girls in Kutet ‘for a long time.’ Hamilton feels utterly betrayed by the ex-priest. He saw no other way than to stop sending money to the shelter, a normal procedure when an institution ‘does nothing to support and protect the children,’ Hamilton writes. If there is good new professional leadership and oversight, and the shelter is transformed so that the safety and wellbeing of the children and women is guaranteed, Hamilton will donate money again.
At first, for a whole year, the prosecution in Timor-Leste didn’t investigate the allegations against the American ex-priest, until civil society pushed for it and the case drew international media attention. Last April the Timorese police arrested the former priest. Currently the prosecution is investigating the case, which is of high complexity as it allegedly relates to abuses spanning decades and involving a large number of children. R.D. has, however, not been put in prison, but stays in the residence of the SVD congregation in Maliana. ‘He can’t go around, because he is under house-arrest,’ states bishop Do Amaral. But a picture on Instagram shows R.D. in a corner in a restaurant in Maliana using a laptop, while the current director of Topu Honis, Ms. Liliana ‘Lily’ Tarung, is with him enjoying a beer.
The bishop says he is not aware that in 2014 also a frater, who was the director of the Dormitório do Lar O Bom Samaritano in Gleno, in the district of Ermera, was arrested and prosecuted. ‘Sorry, I don’t know. It is the first time I hear about this,’ says the bishop. A.B. was found guilty of sexually abusing five boys and is now serving a sentence of more than seven years in the prison of Becora, in Dili. Earlier this year there was an attempt to request a pardon for the frater. When the bishop hears that this year a request to pardon the convicted frater was submitted to President Francisco Guterres, popularly known as Lú-Olo, he says: ‘He shouldn’t get it because we have to wait until the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith finishes its work on the procedure.’
Although the Catholic Church and SVD congregation did investigate the allegations against R.D. and punished him for his crimes by dismissing him as a priest, the Timorese Church leaders have been reluctant to give a full public account to the population about what happened in Oecusse and haven’t reached out to the victims there. Public statements have mostly been made in response to questions by journalists. Recently Fokupers asked the Archbishop in Dili in an open letter to support the victims of Topu Honis shelter and to visit them. So far the Archbishop hasn’t reacted to the call.
When asked what message the Maliana bishop has for victims of clerical sexual abuse in general, Do Amaral says: ‘The Church will always love you. We will not exclude you from the Church.’ He refers to the words of the Pope saying: ‘We apologize to them on behalf of those priests, nuns, or fraters who committed those crimes. We have to ask them forgiveness.’ The bishop stresses that the Church has to ‘make an effort to rehabilitate the victims. They need to get medical and psychological care for trauma healing and counselling.’
Australia and USA
It is striking that there seem to be just two cases in Timor-Leste. In 2017 the Australian academics Desmond Cahill and Peter Wilkinson (both are ordained priests who left the church in the 1970’s) published their international study about sexual child abuse by priests, brothers and nuns between 1955 and 2000. ‘We have only two countries where we have reliable statistics: Australia and the USA,’ writes Cahill in an email. The average figure for both countries is that 6 to 7 per cent of the parish priests (one in fifteen priests) committed sexual abuse against minors. The figure for religious order priests is lower in both countries. He calls the abuse figures for religious brothers ‘horrendous’, usually above 20 per cent.
Cahill and his colleague also looked at the circumstances that create a higher risk. ‘One key factor here is access to vulnerable children,’ Cahill explains. ‘A child was more likely to be abused sexually if it was a boy, especially an altar boy or choir boy, and most especially if you were in a Catholic residential care institution such as an orphanage run by priests or religious brothers,’ Cahill explained in his email. (As happened in the two cases that are publicly known in Timor-Leste). Explaining the potential danger, the Australian professor states: ‘It is well to remember that today the Catholic Church runs over 9000 residential care facilities for children, especially in India and Italy. Many are run by religious brothers rather than by nuns.’ (More information: https://www.rmit.edu.au/news/all-news/2017/sep/report-lifts-lid-on-catholic-church-and-child-sex-abuse)
In general it takes a long time before cases come to light. ‘The major factor in the Church’s bishops covering the abuse up was protection of the Church’s reputation and its self-concept as an all-holy Church,’ writes Cahill. It makes it even harder for victims to tell what happened to them. ‘The Australian figures show that Catholic victims took on average 29 years to disclose’ the crimes committed against them, states Cahill.
In the last two decades a large number of church abuse scandals have been revealed in mainly North and South America, Australia and several European countries. The most prominent case has been the trial against the Australian cardinal George Pell, who had a top position at the Vatican. He has been found guilty of sexual abusing two choir boys and has been sentenced to six years in prison. Meanwhile, in a number of countries the Catholic Church has been paying compensation to victims.
‘I am new’
The bishop of Maliana, who has been in this position at this diocese since 2010, says he is not aware of more cases in Timor-Leste. ‘I only just became a bishop,’ he explains. ‘This diocese is new. This is not an old diocese. Even my people are also new. That’s why they don’t give me information. Because I am new, they don’t have the trust yet. Until today nobody came to report a sexual abuse case to me. So I can’t say anything, because I don’t know anything.’ He adds: ‘Maybe there are some cases, but they hide it.’
He is aware of the Pope’s order that the Church has to receive people who come to report. ‘But if they remain silent, how can we process those cases?’ he states.
‘But if people come to report a case, the diocese will find a way to process it, as this is an order from the Vatican,’ the bishop says. If there is enough evidence ‘I will report it to the police.’