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Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo

The Most Reverend

Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo
  • Apostolic Administrator Emeritus of Díli
  • Titular Bishop of Lorium
Bishop Carlos Belo
See Lorium (Titular See)
Appointed 21 March 1988
Predecessor Ennio Appignanesi
Ordination 26 July 1980
Consecration 19 June 1988
by Archbishop Francesco Canalini
Personal details
Born (1948-02-03) February 3, 1948
Baucau, East Timor
Nationality East Timorese
Denomination Catholic
  • Domingos Vaz Filipe
  • Ermelinda Baptista Filipe
Styles of
Carlos Ximenes Belo
Reference style The Most Reverend
Spoken style Your Excellency
Religious style Monsignor
Posthumous style not applicable

Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo SDB, GCL (born 3 February 1948) is an East Timorese Roman Catholic bishop. Along with José Ramos-Horta, he received the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize for work "towards a just and peaceful solution to the conflict in East Timor."


  • Early life and religious vocation 1
  • Pastoral leadership 2
  • Resignation as Apostolic Administrator and new pastoral activity 3
  • References 4
    • Primary sources 4.1
    • Studies 4.2

Early life and religious vocation

The fifth child of Domingos Vaz Filipe and Ermelinda Baptista Filipe, Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo was born in the village of Wailakama, near Vemasse, on the north coast of East Timor. His father, a schoolteacher, died two years later. His childhood years were spent in Catholic schools at Baucau and Ossu, before he proceeded to the Dare minor seminary outside Dili, from which he graduated in 1968. From 1969 until 1981, apart from periods of practical training (1974–1976) in East Timor and in Macau, he was in Portugal and Rome where, having become a member of the Salesian Society, he studied philosophy and theology before being ordained a priest in 1980.

Returning to East Timor in July 1981 he became a teacher for 20 months, then director for two months, at the Salesian College at Fatumaca.

Pastoral leadership

On the resignation of Martinho da Costa Lopes in 1983, Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo was appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Dili diocese, becoming head of the East Timor church and directly responsible to the Pope. On 6 February 1989, he was consecrated titular Bishop of Lorium.[1]

Father Belo was the choice of the Vatican's Pro Nuncio in Jakarta and the Indonesian leaders because of his supposed submissiveness, but he was not the choice of the Timorese priests who did not attend his inauguration. However within only five months of his assuming office, he protested vehemently, in a sermon in the cathedral, against the brutalities of the Kraras massacre (1983) and condemned the many Indonesian arrests. The church was the only institution capable of communicating with the outside world, so with this in mind the new Apostolic Administrator started writing letters and building up overseas contacts, in spite of the isolation arising from the opposition of the Indonesians and the disinterest of most of the world.

In February 1989 he wrote to the President of Portugal, the Pope, and the UN Secretary-General, calling for a UN referendum on the future of East Timor and for international help for the East Timorese, who were "dying as a people and a nation", but when the UN letter became public in April, he became even more of a target of the Indonesians. This precariousness increased when Bishop Belo gave sanctuary in his own home, as he did on various occasions, to youths escaping the Santa Cruz massacre (1991), and endeavoured to expose the numbers of victims killed.

Bishop Belo's labours on behalf of the East Timorese and in pursuit of peace and reconciliation were internationally recognised when, along with José Ramos-Horta, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in December 1996. Bishop Belo capitalised upon this honour through meetings with Bill Clinton of the United States and Nelson Mandela of South Africa. In 1995, he also won the John Humphrey Freedom Award from the Canadian human rights group Rights & Democracy.[2]

Resignation as Apostolic Administrator and new pastoral activity

In the aftermath of East Timorese independence on 20 May 2002, the pressure of events and the ongoing stress he endured began to show their effects on Bishop Belo's health. Pope John Paul II accepted his resignation as Apostolic Administrator of Dili on November 26, 2002.

Following his resignation Bishop Belo traveled to Portugal for medical treatment. By the beginning of 2004, there were repeated calls for him to return to East Timor and to run for the office of president. However, in May 2004 he told Portuguese state-run television RTP, that he would not allow his name to be put up for nomination. "I have decided to leave politics to politicians," he stated. One month later, on 7 June 2004, Pascuál Chavez, rector major of the Salesian Society, announced from Rome that Bishop Belo, returned to health, would take up a new assignment. In agreement with the Holy See, he would go to Mozambique as a missionary, and live as a member of the Salesian Society in that country.

In a statement released on 8 June, Bishop Belo said that, following two meetings in 2003 and in 2004 with the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, he would go on a mission to the Diocese of Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, as he had wanted to since his youth. He started in July 2004; the same year he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from CEU Cardinal Herrera University.

In February 2011 Belo received the Prize for Lusophonic Personality of the Year, given by MIL: Movimento Internacional Lusófono in the Lisbon Academy of Sciences.


  1. ^ Fernandes, C. The Independence of East Timor. Sussex Academic Press 2011.
  2. ^ "John Humphrey Freedom Award 2009". Rights & Democracy. 2010. Retrieved 11 May 2011. 

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, December 10, 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. Forward 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. Forward 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 U.S. 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.
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