Prime Minister Turnbull calls for firing of Archbishop Wilson

After being convicted of concealing child sex abuse when he was a junior priest in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle in 1976, Archbishop Wilson of the Archdiocese of Adelaide has been reluctant to resign - despite calls for him to do so.

The most recent calls have come from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten.

The Australian reported the Prime Minister as saying:

“As far as Philip Wilson is concerned, he should have resigned, he should have resigned.

“And the time has come for the Pope to sack him. There are many leaders that have called on him to resign, it is clear that he should resign, and I think the time has come now for the ultimate authority in the church to take action and sack him.”

Bill Shorten told the Sydney Morning Herald:

“If he doesn’t have the decency to resign then his superiors in the church should take action.

“The community has spoken. The courts have spoken. Now it’s time for the Church to truly listen,” Mr Shorten said.

Archbishop Wilson’s response to the calls for his resignation has been as follows:

“I am conscious of calls for me to resign and have taken them very seriously. However, at this time, I am entitled to exercise my legal rights and to follow the due process of last. Since that process is not yet complete, I do not intend to resign at this time,” Wilson said.

“However, if I am unsuccessful in my appeal, I will immediately offer my resignation to the Holy See.”

Bishop Bill Wright has also expressed his views on this issue in a recent press release saying:

“Many of you, I believe, would accept that he has the same right as anyone else to prepare an appeal to a higher court.

“What many people find more troubling is his decision not to resign as Archbishop of Adelaide pending his appeal. Various civic leaders and commentators have disagreed with or criticised that decision, and so have many Catholics at all levels.

“I want to reiterate what Archbishop Coleridge, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, made clear on Thursday. Each bishop is appointed by the Pope personally so that the authority to compel a bishop to resign does not belong to any other bishop or even the collective of Australian bishops.

 

“Archbishop Wilson has removed himself from all his functions as a bishop, but his decision not to resign can only be overturned by the Pope himself.”

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John Kingsley-Jones

John Kingsley-Jones is Head of Diocesan Communications