Archbishop of Adelaide, Philip Wilson, has announced that he will step down from his duties on Friday, the BBC reported on Wednesday.
An Australian court on Monday convicted Wilson for covering up a priest’s sexual abuse of children in New South Wales. The conviction makes him the senior-most Catholic official to be charged and convicted of the offence. The development came at a time when the Roman Catholic Church is mired in child abuse allegations.
“It is appropriate that, in the light of some of his honour’s findings, I stand aside from my duties as archbishop,” Wilson said in a statement on Wednesday. “If at any point in time it becomes necessary or appropriate for me to take more formal steps, including by resigning as archbishop, then I will do so.”
He did not talk about whether he would challenge the conviction, for which he faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison. The court will pronounce the quantum of sentence in June.
Wilson has denied that one of the two altar boys abused by priest James Fletcher in the 1970s had told him about the crime. He was an assistant priest in Maitland at that time. The victim claimed that Wilson had accused of him lying about the crimes and had called Fletcher “a good bloke”. Fletcher was convicted of nine child sexual abuse charges in 2004. He died in jail in two years later.