Listen: Father Frank Brennan in conversation with Stephen O’Doherty.
Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide, Phillip Wilson, vows he will fight his sentence of 12 month detention for concealing his knowledge of offences committed in the 1970’s by a notorious paedophile priest. In his judgement, Magistrate Robert Stone, described Wilson as lacking “remorse or contrition” and labelled his evidence as evasive and dissembling.
Wilson’s conviction was not for sexual abuse of a child, it was for not reporting what he knew after victims made disclosures to him when he was a young priest in the Newcastle Maitland Diocese more than 40 years ago.
Pleaded with him to resign
Jesuit Priest, lawyer and high profile political and social justice advocate, Frank Brennan, told Stephen O’Doherty he pleaded with Wilson to resign, yet the Archbishop refused.
Doing no good by refusing to go
Frank Brennan says that when Phillip Wilson was Bishop of Wollongong and later Archbishop of Adelaide, he did a lot to improve the Catholic Church’s national response to crimes of child sexual abuse committed by church personnel.
However, regardless of his later behaviour as a bishop nationally committed to cleaning up the mess Brennan believes Wilson is doing no good by refusing to go.
Only the Pope can sack a Bishop
If he does not resign, only the Pope has the authority to sack him. Resignation calls have also come from other Catholic Bishops, the Prime Minister and other politicians and public figures.
Church leaders don’t get it
Is the Archbishop’s intransigence further evidence that the Catholic Church hierarchy just don’t get the mess they are in following the revelations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse?
The ongoing pain
Archbishop Wilson has continually stated he has a legal right to appeal. Indeed, there are issues with the NSW Legislation under which he was convicted which could see the case go all the way to the High Court. Does his belief in the judicial process outweigh the pain of abuse survivors?
The legal saga has gone on for six years and is likely to continue for some time. Is Wilson’s determination to keep his appointment as Archbishop outweighed by the trauma of victims and the disruption to the diocese he is meant to be leading?
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