Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson will stand aside tomorrow after he was convicted of concealing child sexual abuse in a New South Wales court on Tuesday. Source: The Australian.
Archbishop Wilson yesterday released a statement saying he had considered his position after magistrate Robert Stone found Archbishop Wilson failed to report to police the repeated abuse of two altar boys by paedophile priest James Fletcher in the NSW Hunter region in the 1970s.
“It is appropriate that, in the light of some of his Honour’s findings, I stand aside from my duties as Archbishop,” he said.
“I am now putting in place the necessary administrative arrangements to ensure that the affairs of the Archdiocese are managed responsibly.
“I therefore intend to step aside as of Friday this week once those arrangements are in place.
“If at any point in time it becomes necessary or appropriate for me to take more formal steps, including by resigning as Archbishop, then I will do so.
“In the meantime, while the remainder of the legal process runs its course, I want to assure the Catholic faithful in the Archdiocese of my continued prayers and best wishes and assure everyone that the affairs of the Archdiocese will be appropriately managed in my absence.”
Mr Stone accepted witness Peter Creigh and another altar boy told Archbishop Wilson in 1976 that Fletcher had repeatedly abused them but the clergyman did nothing. Fletcher was found guilty in December 2004 of nine counts of child sexual abuse. He died in jail of a stroke in January 2006.
In a statement, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge said: “We, his brother bishops, believe Archbishop Wilson’s decision, though difficult, was appropriate under the circumstances.
“Our prayers are with all those who have felt the impact of this long legal process, including the survivors who shared their stories, as well as with the Archdiocese of Adelaide and with Archbishop Wilson himself.”
Sentencing is due to start on June 19.
Adelaide Catholic Archbishop Philip Wilson to stand aside (The Australian)
Statement from Archbishop Wilson (Adelaide Archdiocese)
Archbishop to stand down (The Southern Cross)