Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide on August 14, 2018, was assigned by Newcastle Magistrate Robert Stone, to one year of house arrest. He will serve the sentence in his sister’s home, wear a tracking device, and not be eligible for parole for six months.
Pope Francis on July 30, 2018, accepted the resignation of the archbishop. The archbishop was convicted in May of covering up abuses by Fr. James Fletcher in the 1970s. On July 2, 2018, the archbishop was sentenced to a jail term of 12 months.
Two altar boys, 10 and 11 at the time of the incidents, said they told the archbishop that Fr. Fletcher had abused them, but he did nothing. Fr. Fletcher was convicted of abuse in 2004 and died in prison in 2016.
With his resignation, Archbishop Wilson became the highest-ranking Catholic cleric to resign for his role in hiding abuse. The archbishop is 67, and suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, said during his trial that he had no recollection of the cases. Ironically, when Wilson was bishop of the Diocese of Wollongong, he gained a reputation as a “healing bishop” for handling child-abuse scandals.
Archbishop Wilson grew up in Cessnock, in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales and served as a priest in nearby Maitland.
He was ordained a bishop in 1996 when he was appointed by Pope John Paul II as Bishop of Wollongong. Five years later, he became the eighth Archbishop of Adelaide after Archbishop Leonard Faulkner retired.
In 2006, Archbishop Wilson was made President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, was re-elected in 2008 and also served a further two-year term concluding in 2012.
In 2012 he was elected Vice-President of ACBC and also elected Chair of the Bishops’ Conference Justice Ecology and Development.