Thursday, 24 May 2018

Pressure mounts on convicted Archbishop to step down

BY LAUREN FREEMANTLE

Greens MP for Justice, David Shoebridge is addressing parliament today over what he's labelled the shocking response of the Catholic Church over a Newcastle Court's conviction of a senior clergyman.

Adelaide Archbishop, Philip Wilson was on Tuesday found guilty of concealing the abuse of four boys in the Hunter during the 1970s by late paedophile priest James Fletcher.

Abuse survivor advocates have slammed statements from Archbishop Wilson and the Church which announced his step down from duties but not a relinquishment of his title.

They believe the Church's prayers for those who "shared their stories" during the trial, displays no regret or remorse for Wilson's actions.

David Shoebridge is calling on state parliament to admit the Church has not only failed victims historically but is failing survivors now in 2018.

"I can't imagine any other workplace or organisation that would see one of their senior leaders convicted of the crime of concealing child sex offences and continue to have a position of authority," Mr Shoebridge said.

"Of course there should be a defrocking process started," he said, "it shouldn't have just started at the time of the conviction, the Church should've had the measures in place for as soon as a conviction was announced."

Mr Shoebridge believes it's not good enough for parliament to adopt some of the recommendations of the December report of the Royal Commission, but rather, reform is needed across the criminal justice system to ensure religious institutions cannot access mitigation such as the Ellis defence.

The Ellis defence stems from a 2007 case in the NSW Court of Appeal which saw abuse survivor John Ellis lose his case to access compensation from the Church, as trustees were held not to be liable for the crimes of individuals operating in the organisation.

Pressure is now mounting on Philip Wilson to stand down from the Archbishophood, which, in a statement, he promised to do "if it becomes necessary or appropriate."


Philip Wilson leaves Newcastle Local Court. Image: ABC. 

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