Bill Shorten has backed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s call for the Pope to sack Archbishop Philip Wilson as abuse survivors call for other institutional leaders to be prosecuted for concealing child sexual offences. Source: Newcastle Herald.
The Opposition Leader said he agreed with Mr Turnbull that Archbishop Wilson’s position was “untenable” after the archbishop refused to resign following his decision to appeal his conviction for concealing the child sexual abuse offences of New South Wales priest, Jim Fletcher.
“If he doesn’t have the decency to resign then his superiors in the Church should take action,” Mr Shorten said, less than two weeks after the two leaders expressed surprise and concern that Archbishop Wilson did not resign as soon as he was convicted on May 22, and after other bishops encouraged him to resign.
“The community has spoken. The courts have spoken. Now it’s time for the Church to truly listen,” Mr Shorten said.
His comments came after Mr Turnbull increased pressure on the Church to respond to the impasse yesterday as he prepared to meet with Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher and Melbourne Archbishop-designate Peter A Comensoli.
Mr Turnbull said “the time has come for the Pope to sack” Archbishop Wilson because it was “clear that he should resign”.
Hunter abuse survivor Peter Gogarty said he was pleased Mr Turnbull supported his plea to the Pope on July 6 to sack Archbishop Wilson, but there was growing public disquiet about whether others would face prosecution or whether Archbishop Wilson’s conviction would be an isolated case.
“If Wilson proves to be the only one prosecuted then he can consider himself very hard done by because as the royal commission clearly showed, he was certainly not the only leader of an institution who failed to act on child sex allegations,” Mr Gogarty said.
“If Wilson is the only one who gets done for this then I’ll be the first to cry foul.”