Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Philip Wilson, who was convicted of covering up child sex abuse by a pedophile priest. It was the second resignation the pope has accepted in the last three days.
Australian Archbishop Philip Wilson, the most senior Catholic official in the world to be convicted of concealing child sex abuse, has stepped down, the Vatican confirmed on Monday.
Wilson, 67, was convicted in May for failing to report to police the repeated abuse of two altar boys by a pedophile priest in the Hunter Valley region north of Sydney during the 1970s.
The Adelaide archbishop refused to resign while his case was pending appeal. He acknowledged as recently as last week that calls for his firing were increasing. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was one of those voices, urging Pope Francis to sack Wilson earlier this month.
Francis accepted Wilson's resignation on Monday night Australia time, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said in a statement.
Turnbull welcomed Wilson's decision to quit, which "belatedly recognizes the many calls, including my own, for him to resign."
"There is no more important responsibility for community and church leaders than the protection of children," Turnbull said in a statement.
Crackdown on child abuse
Wilson is the second church official to resign in the last three days. US Cardinal Theodore McCarrick resigned from the College of Cardinals on Saturday.
The pope stripped the former archbishop of Washington of his rank as cardinal and ordered him to live in seclusion. McCarrick, 88, has been accused of fondling a 16-year-old teenager nearly a half century ago, an accusation he has denied.
The sex abuse scandal is expected to dominate Pope Francis' visit to Ireland next month, the first papal visit to the country in almost 40 years. The pontiff is under increasing pressure to sanction bishops who have botched handling abuse cases or otherwise covered them up.
One of those bishops is Chilean Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, the archbishop of Santiago who prosecutors recently summoned to testify about his role in the alleged cover-up of years of abuse by Reverend Oscar Munoz. Ezzati has said he knew nothing of the abuse before Munoz came forward.
Ezzati had already offered his resignation when he turned 75 last year. Francis hasn't moved on Ezzati's resignation yet, supposedly waiting to find the right candidate to replace Ezzati as leader of Chile's most important archdiocese.
dv/kms (AP, dpa, Reuters)