Philip Wilson, above, the Archbishop of Adelaide who had been found guilty of concealing child sex abuse by a fellow priest, will step down from his position on Friday.
According to this report, Wilson announced his decision today (Wednesday) the day after he was found guilty by a Newcastle court judge of concealing the abuse of altar boys by a paedophile priest colleague.
He is the highest ranking Catholic official globally to be convicted of the offence and faces up to two years in prison when he is sentenced in June.
Wilson said in a statement:
It is appropriate that, in the light of some of his Honour’s findings, I stand aside from my duties as Archbishop.
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.
Wilson said that he is considering the reasons for the judgment and did not indicate whether he would appeal.
The 67-year-old was found guilty of having concealed the abuse of Father James Fletcher in the state of New South Wales in the 1970s .
Wilson was a junior priest when Fletcher, a Catholic priest based in the Hunter Valley, abused the altar boys. Wilson was charged in 2015 with failing to report Fletcher’s abuse to police.
Fletcher died in prison in 2006, a year after being found guilty of eight counts of child abuse and sentenced to 10 years.
The Newcastle court ruled on Tuesday that the boys had told Wilson about the abuse and that he had failed to report it as he wanted to protect the church’s reputation.
Earlier this month, Vatican Treasurer Cardinal George Pell faced his first appearance at an Australian higher court after a Melbourne magistrate ordered him to stand trial on multiple charges of historical abuse.
Pell is the most senior figure in the Catholic Church to face criminal charges for alleged assault. He is on leave from the Vatican while he contests the claims.
In December 2017, a Royal Commission in Australia made recommendations that the Vatican should move to change ancient canon laws in order to reduce future risk of sexual abuse.
The inquiry heard that 7 percent of Catholic priests working in Australia between 1950 and 2010 had been accused of child sex crimes and that more than 1,000 people had filed child sexual assault claims against the Anglican Church over 35 years.
Meanwhile, it is reported from the US that Southwestern Baptist Theological President Paige Patterson, above, has been pushed into the position of “President emeritus” following growing pressure for him to resign over his attitude towards victims of sexual abuse. Patterson allegedly told a woman who said she had been raped that she should not report her allegations to the police and encouraged her to forgive her alleged assailant.
In 2000, Patterson said he had counseled women not to leave their abusive husbands. He encouraged the women not to report abuse, but instead:
Settle it within the church of God.
A petition with over 3,000 signatures asked the SWBTS trustees to take “decisive action” against Patterson.
Patterson issued an apology for his comments on the SWBTS website on May 10.
Please forgive the failure to be as thoughtful and careful in my extemporaneous expression as I should have been. I would also like to reiterate the simple truth that I utterly reject any form of abuse in demeaning or threatening talk, in physical blows, or in forced sexual acts.
Hat tip: Gaurav Tyagi & BarrieJohn (Wilson report) and AgentCormac (Patterson report).