Australian bishop sentenced to year's detention for cover-up

Philip Wilson is the most senior Catholic official in the world to be charged with concealing child sexual abuse

Philip Wilson is the most senior Catholic official in the world to be charged with concealing child sexual abuse

Today, the 67-year-old's been sentenced to 12 months detention, with a minimum non-parole period of six months. The Archbishop remains on bail until then.

"We respect Archbishop Wilson's right to lodge that appeal; it is the right of any citizen".

Fletcher, who was found guilty of nine counts of child sexual abuse, died of a stroke in prison in 2016 while he was serving a near eight-year sentence.

He faced up to two years prison after being found guilty in May of concealing indictable offences between April 22, 2004, and January 7, 2006.

Wilson, 67, was pale as he stood in the courtroom shortly after 10.40am on Tuesday to learn his sentence.

The second altar boy, who can't be named for legal reasons, was about 11 when he went into the confessional box to tell Wilson that Fletcher had abused him.

Wilson is the most senior clergyman in the world to be convicted of concealing child sex abuse.

Standing down: Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide leaves the Newcastle Local Court on May 22.

"We also recognise the ongoing pain this has caused survivors, especially those who were abused by Jim Fletcher", Archbishop Coleridge said. However, Father Wilson said the conversation never took place, noting in a court hearing April 11, "I don't think I would have forgotten that".

Last year, Australia completed a five-year government-appointed inquiry into child sex abuse in churches and other institutions, amid allegations worldwide that churches had protected pedophile priests by moving them from parish to parish.

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He said the magistrate's decision to impose a 12-month sentence was "ground-breaking in itself".

"It takes great courage for survivors to come forward to tell their stories", the statement reads.

State governments in Australia are ramping up pressure on the Church to report child abuse, and are legislating to prosecute priests who maintain that revelations of pedophilia made in the confessional can not be disclosed.

"The church has made substantial changes to ensure that abuse and cover-up are not part of Catholic life and that children are safe in our communities".

Des Cahil, a professor at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and adviser to the Australian Royal Commission on child abuse, said Wilson had received a "just and fair sentence, given the circumstances that he was a young priest at the time, firmly under the influence of a clericalism that says church law prevails over criminal law".

The victims they say they want this case to be a warning to others. This is a highly disturbing reflection on the Archbishop. Wilson did not use the seal of the confession as an excuse for failing to acting on allegations against Fletcher. In Adelaide he offered material assistance to the SA Police to extradite a lay church employee back from the United States.

ADELAIDE Archbishop Philip Wilson, convicted for covering up child sexual abuse, has avoided immediate jail, but will be assessed for home detention.

"As bishop of this diocese, I accept the judgement of the court in imposing this sentence".

Like elsewhere in the world, Australia has been plagued by accusations that the Catholic Church ignored and covered up child abuse.

"Archbishop Wilson is a long-time friend and colleague of mine, and nearly like a member of my family. But in these matters, all of us must rigorously set aside such considerations in the interests of justice and the protection of children", Wright added.

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