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Archbishop Wilson to stand aside after conviction for concealing abuse

Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide (CNS/Darren Pateman, EPA)

Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide has announced he is to stand aside from the running of his diocese after being found guilty of concealing child sex abuse.

The archbishop said he would stand down from his duties on Friday while he considers his legal options. He added that he may formally resign as archbishop if it becomes necessary.

He said in a statement that it was “appropriate that, in the light of some of his Honour’s findings, I stand aside from my duties as Archbishop.”

“I am now putting in place the necessary administrative arrangements to ensure that the affairs of the Archdiocese are managed responsibly,” he said. “I therefore intend to step aside as of Friday this week once those arrangements are in place.

“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.

“In the meantime, while the remainder of the legal process runs its course, I want to assure the Catholic faithful in the Archdiocese of my continued prayers and best wishes and assure everyone that the affairs of the Archdiocese will be appropriately managed in my absence.”

Archbishop Wilson faces up to two years’ imprisonment after becoming the most senior cleric in the world to be found guilty of hiding sex abuse.

Witnesses said they told him in the 1970s about the abuse they had suffered at the hands of a priest, but that he failed to act. Archbishop Wilson disputed this, saying he had no memory of them confiding in him.

However, Magistrate Robert Stone said the witnesses were reliable and that the archbishop knew “what he was hearing was a credible allegation and the accused wanted to protect the Church and its reputation”.