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Australian Archbishop Philip Wilson resigns after sex abuse cover-up

Posted: 6:08 AM, Jul 30, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-30 13:08:24Z

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Australian Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide, the highest-ranking Catholic official ever to be convicted of covering up sex abuse.

The Vatican made the announcement in a statement sent to CNN on Monday.

Wilson, 67, was found guilty in May of concealing the abuse of altar boys in the 1970s by pedophile priest James Fletcher.

Last week he said that he intended to appeal the ruling under the "due process of law."

"Since that process is not yet complete, I do not intend to resign at this time. However, if I am unsuccessful in my appeal, I will immediately offer my resignation to the Holy See," he said.

Wilson had been spared prison earlier in July and sentenced to six months' home detention in Australia because of his poor health and advanced age.

There will be a hearing on August 14 to determine whether home detention is appropriate for Wilson and where he could stay, with his sister's house raised as one option.

The ruling against Wilson was a landmark conviction that could have far-reaching implications for other clergy members as the child sexual abuse scandal continues to hit the Catholic Church globally.

Last week Pope Francis accepted the resignation of another senior Church official, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who once led the Archdiocese of Washington and was a force in American politics, after a decades-old allegation of sexual abuse of a teenage altar boy forced the Vatican to remove him from public ministry.

The Vatican said Saturday that Pope Francis accepted McCarrick's resignation from the College of Cardinals on Friday evening and ordered him to "a life of prayer and penance until the accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial."