Child abuse cover-up: Turnbull urges Pope to sack archbishop

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Canberra, July 19 (IANS) 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.

Archbishop Wilson, the highest-level catholic priest convicted in a child sexual abuse case, was convicted in May of covering up abuse by a paedophile priest, but has resisted calls to resign. He said he would appeal against the verdict, the BBC reported.

“He should have resigned and the time has come for the Pope to sack him,” Turnbull said at a press briefing.

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

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Throughout his trial, Wilson denied having known about the abuse of altar boys by a priest colleague, James Patrick Fletcher, in New South Wales in the 1970s. Fletcher was convicted of nine child sexual abuse charges in 2004 and he died in jail.

Wilson, 67, had said after the verdict that he took the calls for his resignation seriously, but would exercise his legal rights. On May 22, a judge found him guilty of not reporting to the police sexual abuse committed by Fletcher.

After the first verdict, Wilson had removed himself from his duties as the archbishop and Pope Francis had named another administrator for the archdiocese.

On August 14, the Australian judiciary is set to announce if the archbishop should serve his detention under house arrest or in jail, since the sentence mandated that he has to serve six months of the sentence without a parole option.

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The royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse reported that the Catholic Church in Australia received complaints by 4,500 people about alleged abuse by 1,880 priests and officials between 1980 and 2015.

The Australian government is expected to issue an apology in October to the victims on behalf of the state.



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