Photo Credit to the Archdiocese of Adelaide via ncregister.com
Just when the Catholic Church thought that it was getting a bit of positive traction with the media, another abuse case swallows any positivity and reminds the world about the ongoing problem of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.
This time it’s Australia and it involves an archbishop who used to be president of the country’s bishops’ conference. He stood accused of covering up for a priest, James Fletcher, who stood accused of a serious indictable offence, after being told about it in 1976 when he was an assistant parish priest in the state of New South Wales.
Lawyers for Wilson, 67, had argued that he did not know that Fletcher had abused a boy. Fletcher was found guilty in 2004 of nine counts of child sexual abuse and died in jail in 2006 following a stroke.
Wilson is expected to be sentenced in June by a local court in the city of Newcastle, New South Wales.
Last year, Australia completed a five-year government-appointed inquiry into child sex abuse in churches and other institutions, amid allegations worldwide that churches had protected pedophile priests by moving them from parish to parish.
The inquiry heard that seven percent of Catholic priests working in Australia between 1950 and 2010 had been accused of child sex crimes and that nearly 1,100 people had filed child sexual assault claims against the Anglican Church over 35 years.
The Australian guilty verdict comes in the wake of Pope Francis’ trip to Chile and his handling of the child sex abuse in his native country. The media had been covering the Pope’s interaction with a young gay man who’d been abused by a priest. The press were generally favorable to the Pope and gave him high marks for his compassion and sensitivity but the Australian news will drown that out.