Malcolm Turnbull tells Pope to sack archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson

Erika Holt
July 22, 2018

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Thursday urged Pope Francis to sack the Archbishop of Adelaide, Philip Wilson, who was earlier sentenced to one year in detention for covering up the sexual abuse of minors.

In May, Wilson had announced that he will be stepping down from his duties, but has resisted calls to resign pending an appeal of his conviction.

The most senior Catholic in the world to be convicted of the crime, Wilson has said he will appeal the verdict.

The comments came just before Mr Turnbull was due to meet with Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference President and Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge, and incoming Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Comensoli.

He said Wilson's refusal to resign had led to a "terrible impasse".

"I am conscious of calls for me to resign and have taken them very seriously".

New South Wales Police Minister Troy Grant, who was a police detective in the 1990s when he uncovered widespread church child molesting in the Hunter Valley, has condemned the Vatican's support of Wilson.

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He's not alone, and was also backed by Opposition leader Bill Shorten at the time, who said in a statement: "Mr Wilson's action were inexcusable and his position is untenable".

Instead, Wilson's legal team urged the a good behaviour bond for the offence that carries a maximum two-year jail term.

"However, if I am unsuccessful in my appeal, I will immediately offer my resignation to the Holy See".

Mr Temby noted Wilson was the first Australian Catholic bishop to introduce police checks of all clergymen, a child protection council bringing in experts from outside the church and an audit system of parishes to ensure compliance.

The royal commission - which ran for five years - spoke to thousands of victims and heard claims of abuse involving churches, orphanages, sporting clubs, youth groups and schools.

Wilson stood aside from the Adelaide archdiocese following the court's decision in May and said if it became necessary for him to resign, he would do so.

Wilson was found guilty in May of concealing abuse committed in the 1970s by paedophile priest Jim Fletcher in the NSW Hunter region.

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