Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of an Australian archbishop convicted in May for covering up child abuse.
An Australian magistrate said Archbishop Philip Wilson had shown no remorse for concealing the crimes of a pedophile priest who had attacked altar boys in the Hunter Valley north of Sydney in the 1970s. The court in the city of Newcastle said the archbishop’s “primary motive” at the time when he was a junior priest was to protect the reputation of the Catholic Church.
He had said he would only resign if his appeal against his conviction for covering up child abuse failed.
His defiant stance had been widely condemned. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he was surprised the 67-year-old Catholic cleric had decided not to quit immediately, and urged him to do so.
There was also mounting pressure within the Catholic Church for Wilson to stand down from a position he has held for 18 years.
He is the most senior Catholic in the world to be convicted of concealing child sexual abuse.
He was given a maximum sentence of 12 months in custody, but is likely to avoid jail and serve his time in home detention.
Survivors of clergy abuse also said they were disappointed at the sentence. One had said that if the archbishop did not resign then the Catholic Church would become a “bigger laughing stock than it already is.”
The case is due to return to court on August 14 while Wilson is being assessed for home detention.