Published: Wed, July 04, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

A milestone for victims of church child sex abuse

A milestone for victims of church child sex abuse

Wilson, who has shown early stages of Alzerimers, will serve a six-month non-parole period under the watchful eye of a supervising officer from his home, Herald Sun reported.

Archbishop Philip Wilson arrives for sentencing at Newcastle Local Court in Newcastle, Australia, July 3, 2018.

Dressed in black and wearing a cleric's collar, Wilson made no remarks to journalists outside the court, television footage showed.

The court was told in December past year that Wilson had early stage Alzheimer's disease, a Catholic Church spokesman said last month, a factor that may be taken in to account in determining where he serves the term.

Wilson had testified in April that he did not remember conversations from the 1970s in which two altar boys said they told him of abuse by Fletcher.

An abuse survivor, Peter Gogarty, said he was a "little disappointed" with the sentence but said it was still significant that Wilson had been convicted.

Stone found the 67-year-old cleric guilty in May in the Newcastle Local Court of failing to report to police the repeated abuse of two altar boys by pedophile priest James Fletcher in the Hunter Valley region north of Sydney during the 1970s.

The archbishop has not resigned, despite standing aside from his duties in the wake of his conviction last month.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse released its final report last December, describing a "serious failure" by Australia's institutions to protect child victims and listing 409 recommendations.

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 almost 1,100 people had filed child sexual assault claims against the Anglican Church over 35 years. "By concealing abuse it is demonstrating you are placing the needs of the perpetrator above the child". "So I'm content that we've done something in Australia that nobody else has been able to manage".

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Survivors of abuse who protested against the church outside the court on Tuesday called on Wilson to resign as archbishop.

"He is the most senior Catholic to ever be charged and he is actually giving him 50 per cent of the maximum term. That is groundbreaking in itself".

Mr Stone said he was "firmly of the opinion that a sentence of imprisonment is the only appropriate sentence", after acknowledging the "public outcry and outrage over what has transpired by way of abuse and concealment, not only by the Catholic Church, but other major religious organisations and other associations".

Fletcher died in prison in 2006, a year after he sentenced to 10 years.

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference statement acknowledged the courage of survivors in coming forward, saying they had been vital in helping the church learn the lesson of its shameful history of abuse and concealment. Wilson would begin his climb through the church's hierarchy, which would culminate in him becoming the Archbishop of Adelaide in 2001.

If Pope Francis doesn't sack the archbishop, he becomes "part of a laughing stock", an advocate for abuse survivors says.

The Vatican said the pontiff had appointed Monsignor Peter Comensoli, 54, to head the archdiocese that covers Australia's second-largest city.

"How on earth can somebody who's been convicted of knowing that children were being abused by a Catholic priest remain a bishop?"

"I have witnessed the anguish and grief of victims".

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