Australian archbishop sentenced to two years in prison over sex abuse scandal

News Desk | May 23,2018 | 2:25 pm

One of the world’s most senior Catholic Church officials has been sentenced to two years in prison in Australia for covering up sexual abuse against children, amid a crisis that has engulfed the Church globally.

Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide in South Australia was found guilty of having failed to report abuse of four boys by the priest James Fletcher during the 1970s, when he was an assistant parish priest in the State of New South Wales.

Wilson was handed down the verdict in the Newcastle Local Court on Tuesday after a magistrate-only trial.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Wilson said that he was stepping aside from his church duties. He said he was “obviously disappointed” at the court decision.

His legal team, which has so far made four attempts to have the case thrown out, once has argued that sexual child abuse was not considered a serious crime in the 1970s and that it was not worthy of being reported to authorities.

Wilson was in 2015 accused of failing to report Fletcher’s abuses. Fletcher himself died in prison in 2006, one year after being sentenced to 10 years in jail.

According to a five-year Australian inquiry in 2017, “tens of thousands of children” were sexually abused in the country’s institutions over decades, including churches, schools, and sports clubs.

14 priests dismissed in Chile

A day earlier, 14 Catholic priests were dismissed in Chile for allegedly covering up cases of child abuse by priest Fernando Karadima back in the 1980s and 1990s.

The bishop’s office in the city of Rancagua, located to the south of capital city, Santiago, announced on Tuesday that the priests “no longer are allowed to carry out their duties.”

“These priests have taken part in actions that may be civilian crimes as well as within the Church,” said the bishop’s office.

The decision was announced before the Vatican said Pope Francis would host a second group of victims of sexual abuse by priests in the country. The Pope will meet with nine victims from June 1-3.

Earlier this month, he met with three Chilean men who had been victims of abuse by a priest in the 1970s.

The Roman Catholic Church has been facing allegations of sexual abuse in several countries across the world, including Germany, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands, Ireland, Brazil, and the United States.

In the US, the Church, the archdiocese of Boston in particular, has been embroiled in a series of child sex scandals over the past two decades.

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