Philip Wilson’s resignation from the role of Archbishop of Adelaide was announced on Monday, but it has now been revealed that he will remain a Catholic Bishop despite being convicted for failing to report child sex abuse.
The news that Wilson will retain the title of Bishop was confirmed by Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Adelaide Bishop Greg O’Kelly during a press conference on Tuesday. Bishop Kelly said: “He’ll have no authority, no governance in the church. He remains a Bishop, but he’s no longer the Archbishop.
“This is new territory, coming to terms with what this might mean for him personally. It depends what sort of role he’s thinking of.”
In May, Wilson was found guilty of failing to report child sex abuse by paedophile priest James Fletcher in the 1970s. Earlier this month he was sentenced to a 12-month home detention order but currently remains on bail until August 14 when he will return to court following an assessment for home detention.
Despite previously refusing to step down from his role until his legal appeal had concluded, amid calls from senior politicians including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and leader of the opposition Bill Shorten, Wilson wrote to Pope Francis on July 20 to offer his resignation.
In a statement issued by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference on Monday evening, president Archbishop Mark Coleridge said the Pope had accepted the resignation.
“While the judicial process will continue, Archbishop Wilson’s resignation is the next chapter in a heartbreaking story of people who were sexually abused at the hands of Jim Fletcher and whose lives were forever changed,” the statement read.
“This decision may bring some comfort to them despite the ongoing pain they bear.”
Malcolm Turnbull said he welcomed the news “which belatedly recognises the many calls, including my own, for him to resign”. He told The Advertiser: “There is no more important responsibility for community and church leaders than the protection of children.”
Wilson will continue with his appeals process.