Archbishop Philip Wilson says he’ll resign if appeal fails

Australian Archbishop Philip Wilson has appealed his 12-month detention sentence for failing to report allegations of child sexual abuse.

The allegations involved two altar boys who were abused by a paedophile priest. They disclosed the abuse to him in the 1970s.

Wilson, who is 67, is the most senior Catholic official in the world to be convicted of concealing child abuse.

He is likely to serve his 12-month sentence in home detention.

Wilson says he is aware of the calls for his resignation and has “taken them very seriously.”

“However, at this time, I am entitled to exercise my legal rights and to follow the due process of law.

“Since that process is not yet complete, I do not intend to resign at this time,” he says.

However, he says if his appeal is unsuccessful he will immediately offer his resignation to the Holy See.

Until a decision regarding his appeal has been made, Wilson says he won’t be making any further public statements.

In the meantime, he has stepped aside from his position as archbishop.

Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ as apostolic administrator of Adelaide.

He has taken on the diocese’s leadership responsibilities.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge, president of the Australian Bishops Conference, says that “a number of survivors, prominent Australians and other members of the community have publicly called on Archbishop Wilson to resign.”

These include Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and opposition leader Bill Shorten who have argued that the archbishop is not in a position to lead.

“Although we have no authority to compel him to do so, a number of Australian bishops have also offered their advice privately,” Coleridge says.

“Only the Pope can compel a bishop to resign.”


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