Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo

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Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo

Belo in 2016
Belo in 2016
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
SeeLorium (titular see)
Appointed21 March 1988
Ordination26 July 1980
by José Policarpo
Consecration19 June 1988
by Francesco Canalini
Personal details
Born (1948-02-03) 3 February 1948 (age 76)
NationalityEast Timorese
DenominationRoman Catholic
ResidenceMaputo, Mozambique
  • Domingos Vaz Filipe
  • Ermelinda Baptista Filipe
Previous post(s)
  • Apostolic Administrator of Dili
  • (1988–2002)
Alma mater
MottoCaritas Veritatis-Veritas Caritatis
SignatureSignature of Filipe Ximenes Belo
Styles of
Carlos Ximenes Belo
Reference styleThe Most Reverend
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Religious styleMonsignor

Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, SDB, commonly known as Carlos Belo[1][2] or Ximenes Belo (born 3 February 1948) is an East Timorese prelate of the Catholic Church. He became a bishop in 1988 and served as the apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Díli from 1988 to 2002. In 1996, he shared the Nobel Peace Prize with José Ramos-Horta for working "towards a just and peaceful solution to the conflict in East Timor".[3] He is a professed member of the Salesians.

Early life and religious vocation[edit]

Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo was the fifth child of Domingos Vaz Filipe and Ermelinda Baptista Filipe, born in the village of Wailakama, near Vemasse, on the north coast of Portuguese Timor. His father, a schoolteacher, died two years after Belo was born. He attended Catholic schools at Baucau and Ossu and then entered the minor seminary in Dare outside Dili, graduating in 1968. From 1969 until 1981, apart from periods of practical training in East Timor and Macau from 1974 to 1976, Belo studied philosophy at the Catholic University of Portugal and the Salesian Pontifical University.[4]

Belo took his final vows as a member of the Salesian Society on 6 October 1974 and was ordained a priest on 26 July 1980.[5] He returned to East Timor in 1981, taking Indonesian citizenship as required since Indonesia had invaded East Timor following the Carnation Revolution.[2] Belo became a teacher for 20 months and later director for two months at the Salesian College at Fatumaca.

Apostolic administrator[edit]

After Monsignor Martinho da Costa Lopes was removed as apostolic administrator in 1983, his position remained vacant until Belo was appointed titular bishop of Lorium and apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Dili, the senior official of the Catholic Church in East Timor, on 21 March 1988.[6] On 19 June 1988, he was consecrated a bishop by the Apostolic Nuncio to Indonesia, Archbishop Francesco Canalini.[7] He chose as his episcopal motto Caritas Veritatis-Veritas Caritatis.[8]

Belo continued on Lopes' path and after five months of taking office he preached a sermon that denounced the Kraras massacre of 1983 and condemned the many Indonesian arrests. He undertook a program of overseas contacts to counter the world's ignorance of the violence in East Timor.

In February 1989 he wrote to the president of Portugal, the pope, and the secretary-general of the United Nations calling for the UN to sponsor and oversee a referendum on the future of East Timor and for international assistance for the East Timorese, who were "dying as a people and a nation". This appeal to the UN became public in April. He further antagonized Indonesian authorities when he gave sanctuary in his own home to youths escaping the Santa Cruz massacre in 1991 and endeavoured to expose how many were killed.

Belo's labours on behalf of the East Timorese and in pursuit of peace and reconciliation were recognised when, along with José Ramos-Horta, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on 10 December 1996.[9][a] Belo capitalised upon this honour by meeting with a variety of world leaders, including US President Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela of South Africa.

Following East Timor's independence on 20 May 2002, Belo went to Portugal for several months of medical treatment. He later said he was "suffering from both physical and mental fatigue that will require a long period of recuperation". He and Bishop Basílio do Nascimento, the administrator of another diocese in East Timor, met privately with the pope on 28 October 2002.[11] Pope John Paul II accepted his resignation as Apostolic Administrator of Dili on 26 November 2002. Nascimento was named to succeed him.[12] The Vatican announcement did not explain his retirement at the age of 54, but cited the provision of canon law that allows a bishop to retire for grave reasons or health problems.[13][14]

Later activity[edit]

Following his resignation Belo travelled to Portugal where he said he underwent medical treatment for cancer.[14]

By the beginning of 2004, there were repeated calls for him to return to East Timor to run for president. In May 2004 he told Portuguese state-run television RTP that he had "decided to leave politics to politicians".

Belo started working in the Diocese of Maputo in Mozambique in June 2004 and described his role as "assistant parish priest": "I do pastoral work by teaching catechism to children, giving retreats to young people. I have descended from the top to the bottom." He told an interviewer that he had left Díli because the new political situation required new leadership that could undertake the work of reconciliation without the associations he had with earlier battles. He said he had chosen Mozambique because he did not think he could learn another language and that he had consulted his Salesian superior and Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, who headed the Curia department responsible for missionary territory. He planned to stay for a year.[15]

Other awards[edit]

In 1995, he received the John Humphrey Freedom Award from the Canadian human rights group Rights & Democracy.[16]

On 3 August 1988 he received the Grand Cross of the Order of Liberty from the government of Portugal.[17]

In 2004 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by CEU Cardinal Herrera University.

He was named the Lusophonic Personality of the Year 2010 by the International Lusophone Movement of the Lisbon Academy of Sciences.[18]

Sexual abuse allegations[edit]

On 28 September 2022, De Groene Amsterdammer, a Dutch magazine, reported that two men alleged Belo sexually abused them and others as children in East Timor. The magazine's research indicated that Belo sexually abused male children before and during his tenure as a bishop, both in Fatumaca and Díli.[19] The next day a Vatican spokesperson confirmed that Church officials had imposed disciplinary sanctions against Belo in 2020 less than a year after receiving allegations in 2019 about his behavior in East Timor years earlier. These included restrictions on Belo's movements and the exercise of his ministry as well as prohibiting him from having contact with children. He was also forbidden to have any contact with East Timor. The Vatican "modified and reinforced" its disciplinary actions in 2021. Its spokesman said that Belo accepted these rules in both years.[20][14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Their selection as recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize was announced on 12 October 1996.[10]


  1. ^ "Bishop Belo quits after health scare". The Catholic Leader. 8 December 2002. Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  2. ^ a b Smythe, Patrick A. (2004). 'The Heaviest Blow': The Catholic Church and the East Timor Issue. Lit Verlag. p. 40ff. ISBN 9783825871772. Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  3. ^ Lundestad, Geir (24 October 1996). "Nobel Peace Prizes:Western, Perhaps, but Is It a Bad Thing?". New York Times. Retrieved 30 September 2022.
  4. ^ Tukan, Peter; de Sousa, Domingos (March 1997). Beding, Bona (ed.). Demi Keadilan & Perdamaian: Dom Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo (in Indonesian). Jakarta: Peace and Justice Commission Diocese of Dili & Peace and Justice Secretariat Bishops' Conference of Indonesia. pp. 38–39. ISBN 9799519101.
  5. ^ Kohen, Arnold S. (1999). From the Place of the Dead: The Epic Struggles of Bishop Belo of East Timor. New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 64, 101.
  6. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). Vol. LXXX. 1988. p. 1624.
  7. ^ Fernandes, C. (2011). The Independence of East Timor. Sussex Academic Press.[page needed]
  8. ^ Tukan & de Sousa 1997, p. 49.
  9. ^ "Treading Softly, but Firmly, Timor Bishop Accepts Nobel". New York Times. 11 December 1996. Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  10. ^ Shenon, Philip (12 October 1996). "Timorese Bishop and Exile Given Nobel Peace Prize". New York Times. Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  11. ^ "Le Udienze, 28.10.2002" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 26 November 2002. Retrieved 1 October 2022.
  12. ^ Thavis, John. "Bishop Belo, Nobel winner, resigns as head of E Timor diocese". Catholic News Service. Retrieved 30 September 2022 – via East Timor and Indonesia Action Network.
  13. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 26.11.2002" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 26 November 2002. Retrieved 1 October 2022.
  14. ^ a b c Horowitz, Jason (29 September 2022). "Vatican Disciplined Nobel Laureate Bishop Over Child Abuse Claims". New York Times. Retrieved 30 September 2022.
  15. ^ "'I Am Now An Assistant Priest,' Bishop Belo Says". UCA News (Interview). 2 February 2005. Retrieved 1 October 2022.
  16. ^ "John Humphrey Freedom Award 2009". Rights & Democracy. 2010. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 11 May 2011.
  17. ^ "Entidades Nacionais Agraciadas com Ordens Portuguesas". Ordens Honoríficas Portuguesas (in Portuguese). Retrieved 1 October 2022.
  18. ^ "Personalidade Lusófona de 2010: D. Ximenes Belo" (in Portuguese). 22 February 2011. Retrieved 30 September 2022.
  19. ^ Lingsma, Tjitske (28 September 2022). "'What I want is apologies'". De Groene Amsterdammer (in Dutch). Retrieved 30 September 2022.
  20. ^ "Vatican affirms sanctioning Nobel-winning bishop over sex scandal". Al Jazeera. 29 September 2022. Retrieved 30 September 2022.
Further reading
Primary sources
  • Belo, Carlos Filipe Ximenes. “The Nobel Lecture,” given by The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 1996, Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, Titular bishop of Lorium and Apostolic Administrator of Dili (East Timor): Oslo, 10 December 1996. ANS Mag: A Periodical for the Salesian Community, year 3, no. 25 (December 1996).
  • Colombo, Ferdinando. “Timor Anno Zero,” in Bollettino Salesiano 124.4 (April 2000): 18–20.
  • Cristalis, Irena. Bitter Dawn: East Timor: A People’s Story. London: Zed Books, 2002.
  • De Vanna, Umberto. “Il mondo ha scelto Timor,” in Bollettino Salesiano 121.2 (February 1997): 4–5.
  • De Vanna, Umberto. “Il nobel per la pace: La forza della non-violenza a Timor Est,” in Bollettino Salesiano 120.11 (December 1997): 4–5.
  • Garulo, Carlos. “The Nobel Prize for Peace: who is Bishop Belo?” ANS Mag: A Periodical for the Salesian Community, year 3, no. 23 (November 1996): 6–8. English language edition.
  • Hainsworth, Paul, and Stephen McCloskey, eds. The East Timor Question: The Struggle for Independence from Indonesia. Foreword by John Pilger; Preface by José Ramos-Horta. London: I. B. Tauris, 2000.
  • Jardine, Matthew. East Timor: Genocide in Paradise. Introduction by Noam Chomsky; Real Story Series, 2nd ed. Monroe, ME: Odonian Press, 1999.
  • Kohen, Arnold. From the Place of the Dead: the epic struggles of Bishop Belo of East Timor. Introduction by the Dalai Lama. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999.
  • Lennox, Rowena. Fighting Spirit of East Timor: The Life of Martinho da Costa Lopes. London: Zed Books, 2000.
  • Marker, Jamsheed; East Timor: a Memoir of the Negotiations of Independence. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2003.
  • Nicol, Bill. Timor, A Nation Reborn. Jakarta: Equinox, 2002.
  • Orlando, Vito. “Timor… più che paura!” in Bollettino Salesiano 124.1 (January 2000): 18–20.
  • Pinto, Constâncio, and Matthew Jardine. East Timor’s Unfinished Struggle: Inside the Timorese Resistance: A Testimony. Preface by José António Ramos-Horta. Foreword by Allan Nairn. Boston: South End Press, 1996.
  • Puthenkadam, Peter, ed. Iingreja iha Timor Loro Sa’e – Tinan. Dili: Kendiaman Uskup, 1997.
  • Smith, Michael G. Peacekeeping in East Timor, The Path to Independence, by Michael G. Smith, with Moreen Dee. International Peace Academy: Occasional Paper Series. 1st US ed. Boulder, Col.: Lynne Rienner, 2003.
  • Stracca, Silvano. “Un vescovo e il suo popolo,” in Bollettino Salesiano 120.1 (January 1996): 10–12
  • Subroto, Hendro. Eyewitness to Integration of East Timor. Jatkarta: Pustaka Sinar Harapan, 1997.
  • Taylor, John G. East Timor The Price of Freedom. London: Zed Books, 1999.
  • Taylor, John G. Indonesia’s Forgotten War, The Hidden History of East Timor. London: Zed Books, 1991.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Apostolic Administrator of Díli
Succeeded by