Australia’s prime minister, clergy want pope to sack archbishop

Australia’s prime minister Malcolm Turnbull wants Pope Francis to sack Archbishop Philip Wilson.

Wilson should not be allowed to remain an archbishop while he appeals against his conviction, says Turnbull, who is a Catholic.

The National Council of Priests (NCP) in Australia agrees with Turnbull.

“While the Archbishop is exercising his constitutional right to appeal his conviction, his tenure as Archbishop of Adelaide has been compromised,” a statement from the NCP says.

“For the good of the Church in Australia and for the benefit of the People of God in the Archdiocese of Adelaide, the Executive of the NCP requests that the Holy Father, Pope Francis, removes Archbishop Philip Wilson from his See.” Turnbull’s is one of a number of voices calling for Wilson’s resignation.

Although they have not sought papal intervention, a number of leading Australian prelates have also called for Wilson’s resignation. They include Melbourne’s Archbishop-elect Peter Comensoli, who will soon lead the nation’s largest diocese.

“I think the path he is taking is not of benefit for God’s people in Adelaide, so I along with a number of other bishops have sought to counsel Philip in that regard,” Comensoli says.

“There are many leaders that have called on him to resign, it’s clear that he should resign and I think the time has come now for the ultimate authority in the church to take action and sack him.”

While Wilson stood down from his position as archbishop days after being convicted for covering up child sexual abuse, he is adamant he will resign only if his appeal fails.

“I am conscious of calls for me to resign and have taken them very seriously,” he said earlier this month.

“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.”

Wilson will return to court in August, when he will be told if he will serve his sentence in prison or at his sister’s house in home detention.

He must serve a minimum of six months before becoming eligible for parole.


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