Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull calls on Pope Francis to sack archbishop | News | DW | 19.07.2018
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Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull calls on Pope Francis to sack archbishop

Australian Archbishop Philip Wilson has been charged with covering up sex abuse by another priest during the 1970s. He maintains his innocence and has refused to resign from his role as archbishop in South Australia.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Thursday called for Pope Francis to fire archbishop Philip Wilson, who has been convicted of covering up child sex abuse.

"He should have resigned, and the time has come for the pope to sack him," Turnbull told reporters in Sydney ahead of a meeting with senior Catholic officials.

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"There are many leaders that have called on him to resign … and I think the time has come now for the ultimate authority in the church to take action," Turnbull said.

Wilson, 67, is one of the most senior Catholic Church officials to be convicted and was found guilty of concealing abuse by pedophile priest Jim Fletcher during the 1970s. He was sentenced to 12 months' home detention.

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Fletcher was found guilty in 2004 of nine counts of child sexual abuse and died in prison in 2006 after a stroke.

Wilson has stepped down from his duties as archbishop of Adelaide in the state of South Australia but has refused to resign pending an appeal of his conviction, prompting Turnbull – who has previously called on Wilson to quit – to turn to the Vatican for help.

Watch video 00:44

Australian archbishop guilty of concealing child abuse

Wilson denies charges

The archbishop has continually denied the charges and his legal team has made four attempts to have the case thrown out, arguing the he suffered from Alzheimer's and so should avoid trial.

Australia opened a royal commission into institutional responses to child sex abuse in 2012 following years of pressure to investigate widespread allegations of institutional paedophilia.

Read more: 6 facts about Catholic and Protestant influence in Germany

The royal commission – which ran for five years – spoke to thousands of victims and heard claims of abuse involving churches, orphanages, sporting clubs, youth groups and schools.

law/kms (AFP, Reuters)

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