Despite Archbishop Philip Wilson’s conviction for concealing child sexual abuse only the Pope can force him to resign, Archbishop Mark Coleridge said yesterday. Source: SBS News.
Archbishop Wilson, 67, the most senior Catholic official in the world to be convicted of concealing child abuse, is likely to serve his 12-month sentence in home detention.
He stood aside as Archbishop of Adelaide in May after being found guilty of failing to report to police the historical sexual abuse of two altar boys by a pedophile priest, after a landmark magistrate-only trial in Newcastle Local Court.
However, he has indicated he plans to appeal his conviction and says he will only resign if that fails.
Archbishop Coleridge, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president, said an appeal was the right of "any citizen" but made it clear it would require intervention from the Vatican to compel Archbishop Wilson’s resignation.
"A number of survivors, prominent Australians and other members of the community have publicly called on Archbishop Wilson to resign. Although we have no authority to compel him to do so, a number of Australian bishops have also offered their advice privately. Only the Pope can compel a bishop to resign,” he said in a statement.
"We also recognise the ongoing pain this has caused survivors, especially those who were abused."
Archbishop Wilson is now facing unprecedented calls from across the political arena to step down.
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall yesterday joined Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten in calling for Archbishop Wilson to resign immediately.
Archbishop Wilson was sentenced on Tuesday to 12 months' imprisonment with six months non-parole but ordered he be assessed for an order allowing him to serve his sentence in the community.
On Wednesday he said he would lodge an appeal in the NSW District Court, saying he had seriously considered the calls for him to resign but would only do so if his appeal was unsuccessful.