In Brief

How Australian archbishop was found guilty of child sex abuse cover-up

Philip Wilson becomes the most senior Catholic in the world to be convicted of concealing abuse

An Australian archbishop has become the highest ranking Catholic official in the world to be convicted of covering up historic child sex abuse.

Philip Wilson, now archbishop of Adelaide, was found guilty of concealing the abuse of altar boys by a paedophile priest in New South Wales where he worked in the 1970s.

Wilson has always denied he knew about the actions of James Fletcher, a colleague who was later convicted of nine sexual abuse charges in 2004, and died in jail in 2006.

One of Fletcher’s victims, Peter Creigh, told the court he had described the abuse to Wilson in 1978, and the magistrate Robert Stone rejected claims by the archbishop he had no memory of the conversation.

Another victim told the court Wilson had accused him of telling lies and ordered him to recite 10 Hail Marys as punishment, after he had disclosed abuse by Fletcher in the confessional when he was 11.

Following the verdict, Creigh told reporters: “The decision will hopefully unravel the hypocrisy, the deceit and the abuse of power and trust that the Church has displayed”.

A royal commission set up in 2012 to look into institutional responses to child sex abuse in Australia concluded last year that churches, schools and sports clubs had “seriously failed” to protect children, with Catholic institutions coming in for “particular criticism”, reports the BBC.

Wilson’s conviction and possible jail sentence is a precursor to the upcoming trial of the Vatican’s treasurer Cardinal George Pell, Australia’s highest-ranking Catholic and effectively the third most powerful person in the Church, who is charged with historical sexual assault offences.

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