PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull has backed calls for Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson to resign after his jail sentence on Tuesday for concealing the crimes of a child sex offender priest.
In response to a question today about Wilson’s future as an archbishop, Mr Turnbull replied: “I am surprised he's not resigned already given the outcome of the case.”
Wilson, 67, has not spoken since Newcastle Local Court magistrate Robert Stone sentenced him to 12 months jail for failing to report child sex allegations about Hunter priest Jim Fletcher to police between 2004 and 2006.
Imprisonment was the only appropriate penalty, Mr Stone said.
Wilson will return to court in August after he is assessed for whether the sentence can be served as home detention at his sister’s home on the Central Coast.
Wilson was stood down after his conviction on May 22 but did not respond to questions about resigning. In a letter to parishioners before his trial he committed to continuing in the archbishop’s role for another eight years.
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference declined to respond to questions about Wilson’s position, saying it was a matter for the Vatican.
Hunter survivor advocate Peter Gogarty said he was disgusted that Wilson and Australia’s bishops had failed to act or speak, and delighted that the Prime Minister had weighed in.
“I’m pleased Mr Turnbull’s shown leadership on this issue. I think he’s probably reflecting the views of a huge percentage of the population,” Mr Gogarty said.
“I’d urge other politicians to follow suit.”
Mr Gogarty slammed Australia’s bishops for failing to show leadership.
“They should go to the Pope and beg him to demand Wilson to resign for the good of the church. Every pious statement from them about having learnt their lessons from the Royal Commission and are now open and transparent is just laughable now. They’re still maintaining their silence.
“Name any other organisation or institution where somebody could be convicted for an offence like this and continue in their position. It’s like a banker being convicted of fraud but thinking he could still remain state manager.”