The Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide, Philip Wilson, has been charged with concealing child sex abuse allegedly committed by another priest in the 1970s.
Police allege the archbishop failed to report child sex abuse, allegedly committed by priest Jim Fletcher, when both men were a part of the Maitland Diocese, near Newcastle in New South Wales.
Fletcher, a convicted pedophile, died in 2006 after he was jailed for the rape of a teenage boy in the late 1980s. A NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into the Maitland Catholic Diocese revealed the priest “had an extensive history of perpetrating child sexual abuse in the diocese, exclusively abusing young males, particularly altar boys”.
The charges stem out of recommendations from the Special Commission of Inquiry and a five-year investigation by NSW police Strike Force Lantle, into allegations of concealment in the region.
The 64-year-old, who was born in the Hunter in Cessnock, is due to face Newcastle Court on April 30.
Archbishop Wilson was ordained in 1975 and became the director of religious education in the Maitland Diocese in 1983. He went on to be appointed Bishop of Wollongong, where he gained a reputation for compassionate help for the victims of child-abuse scandals.
He is chair of the Catholic humanitarian aid group Caritas and served three terms as president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.
The Australian he is the most senior Australian Catholic official to face court over allegations of this severity.
The archbishop has yet to enter a plea, but is expected to fight the charges.