| 21.07,18. 02:52 AM |
National Council of Priests of Australia calls on Pope to intervene in Philip Wilson case
Photo: Roman Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson has been called on to resign. (AAP: David Mariuz)
The Executive of the National Council of Priests of Australia (NCP) has "wholeheartedly" endorsed the appeals for Archbishop Philip Wilson to resign, and have called on the Pope to intervene.
It follows comments made by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Thursday that the Pope should "sack" Wilson.
Earlier this month, Wilson was sentenced to 12 months' detention after being found guilty of concealing the sexual abuse of children between 2004 and 2006 at the hands of paedophile priest Jim Fletcher in the 1970s.
He is the most senior Catholic in the world to be convicted of concealing child sex abuse.
In a statement, the body said his position had been "compromised" since his conviction.
"While the Archbishop is exercising his constitutional right to appeal his conviction, his tenure as Archbishop of Adelaide has been compromised," the statement read.
"The welfare of the People of God of the Archdiocese of Adelaide must take precedence over the desire of an individual to remain in office.
"When an accusation is levelled at a Parish Priest or when he is charged with a criminal offence, he is automatically stood down until his guilt or innocence is established.
"Archbishop Wilson remained in office for the duration of his trial. He only stood down after his conviction."
The statement continued that "this appearance of inequity is an affront to natural justice and galling to both priests and laity".
"For the good of the Church in Australia and for the benefit of the People of God in the Archdiocese of Adelaide, the Executive of the NCP requests that the Holy Father, Pope Francis, removes Archbishop Philip Wilson from his See [position]."
Wilson was sentenced to 12 months' detention — eligible for parole after six months — but said he would lodge an appeal against his conviction.
Following the sentencing, Wilson said he would not quit his post, despite the growing calls.
"I intend to lodge an appeal against my conviction to the District Court of New South Wales," he said in a statement.
"I am conscious of calls for me to resign and have taken them very seriously.
"However, at this time, I am entitled to exercise my legal rights and to follow the due process of law.
"Since that process is not yet complete, I do not intend to resign at this time."
Port Pirie Bishop Greg O'Kelly was appointed by Pope Francis as Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Adelaide last month, taking over responsibilities formerly in the hands of Wilson.
PM weighs in for second time
On Thursday, Mr Turnbull said the Pope should "sack" Wilson, saying "the time has come".
"There are many leaders that have called on him to resign, it is clear that he should resign," Mr Turnbull said.
He said it was time for "the ultimate authority in the church to take action and sack him".
Mr Turnbull had previously said Wilson should resign — a call echoed by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and South Australian Premier Steven Marshall.