Archbishop Philip Wilson Stands Aside, Asked Families to "Continue to Pray for Me" in Letter

By Camron Slessor
May 24, 2018

PHOTO: Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson is facing up to two years in jail. (AAP: David Mariuz)

A letter from the Archbishop of Adelaide, who has been convicted of covering up child sexual abuse, has asked families to "please continue to pray" for him.

The closing line was sent in a letter written by Philip Wilson which was sent out to children and parents across Adelaide following his decision to step down from his duties as Archbishop earlier this week.

Wilson is facing up to two years in jail for covering up child sexual abuse after being found guilty by a New South Wales court in a landmark ruling earlier this week.

The 67-year-old was accused of covering up abuse by priest Jim Fletcher in the NSW Hunter Region in the 1970s.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide released a statement on Friday announcing that Adelaide Vicar General Father Philip Marshall will take responsibility for the affairs of the Catholic Archdiocese in Wilson's absence.

He will be supported by newly appointed Adjunct Vicar General Father Anthoni Adimai SdM.

Chancellor Pauline Connelly has been appointed chair of the Archdiocesan Council for Child Protection and will act as the Archbishop's delegate in dealing with matters related to professional standards, the Police Check Unit and the Child Protection Unit.

Father Marshall said one of his first priorities would be to "ensure we continue to be a church where the safety of children is paramount and where survivors of abuse are listened to and supported".

The church has refused to comment on whether Wilson will remain in residence at the Archbishop's House formerly known as Bishop's Palace.

The building on West Terrace in Adelaide was built in 1845 as the residence for the Roman Catholic Bishop of Adelaide, Francis Murphy, continues to be used as the resident of the Archbishop of Adelaide and is where Wilson currently resides.

Following the guilty verdict, Wilson said he would stand aside from his duties from today, but would not resign unless it became "necessary and appropriate".

PHOTO: Adelaide Archbishop's House, the official residence of the Catholic Archbishop, on West Terrace in the CBD. (Google Maps)

Wilson sent a letter to the Archdiocese of Adelaide on Wednesday explaining his decision to stand aside.

It is understood that some parents of students from Cabra Dominican College were unhappy with the message sent out in the letter.

Wilson assured "the Catholic faithful" that his stepping down would not have an impact on the Archdiocese.

"I know that we are a united community of believers, a people of hope, and we will continue to be the disciples of Jesus in the world today," the statement said.

"While the legal process runs its course, I want to assure the Catholic faithful in the Archdiocese of my continued prayers and best wishes and assure everyone that the affairs of the Archdiocese will be appropriately managed in my absence.

PHOTO: A letter sent to parents in Adelaide from Philip Wilson asked them to "continue to pray" for him. (Supplied: Archbishop of Adelaide)

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference released a statement following Wilson's decision to stand aside, saying it was "appropriate".

"We, his brother bishops, believe Archbishop Wilson's decision, though difficult, was appropriate under the circumstances," ACBC president Archbishop Mark Coleridge said.

"Our prayers are with all those who have felt the impact of this long legal process, including the survivors who shared their stories, as well as with the Archdiocese of Adelaide and with Archbishop Wilson himself."








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