Adelaide’s Archbishop misses court

Adelaide’s Archbishop, Philip Wilson, has been unable to appear in court in a trial about his alleged covering up of child sexual abuse.

Wilson’s lawyers say he is medically unfit to give evidence because of physical and mental health issues.

In 2015 he was charged with covering up a Hunter Valley priest’s abuse, which took place in the 1970s.

The priest, Jim Fletcher, has since died.

Adelaide neurologist Associate Professor Andrew Lee told the Court an examination of the 67-year old archbishop after a severe fall earlier this year brought to light a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

He has also recently had a pacemaker installed.

The prosecutor asked Lee if Wilson could have been malingering during these tests.

Lee agreed it was possible, and said the archbishop must be assessed further by a neuro-psychologist to determine if he is fit to stand trial.

He said in his opinion Wilson was a genuine person and wasn’t trying to put something over him during the tests.

In a statement, Wilson says many people’s initial reaction to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is to think life is all but over.

His statement goes on to say a person with such a diagnosis “cannot continue to live a productive life and contribute to society.

“I am fully aware that some people will now judge me in this light. But I hope to prove them wrong.

“I have been prescribed medication that may assist me greatly in slowing the progress of this disease and indeed improve my present condition.”

The Newcastle Local Court has heard that the medication could take six months to work, but it is successful for only one in three sufferers.

Some abuse survivors say Wilson should step down because of his Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Wilson isn’t keen to retire yet, however.

“If a point comes in the next eight years before my mandatory retirement, and I am advised by my doctors that the effects of Alzheimer’s disease might be beginning to impair my ability to function properly as Archbishop, I will offer my resignation,” he said.

Wilson says he has informed the Apostolic Nuncio in Australia of his condition and will provide him with the medical reports.

“I will update him regularly with the results of tests and consultations with my neurologist during the years ahead.

“I am in God’s hands and I trust in the love and care of the Lord on the journey of life I have before me.”


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , , , ,