Australia's Catholic priests urge pope to sack Adelaide archbishop Philip Wilson

Newcastle Local Court in Newcastle Australia.— Reuters

The usual procedure is for a bishop to offer his resignation to the Pope, but Wilson has said he will appeal the sentence and not resign unless he loses.

Wilson's defence barrister Ian Temby QC told a sentencing hearing last month that imprisonment is likely to worsen his client's many chronic illnesses and may put him at risk of assault from fellow inmates.

Hunter Anglican abuse survivor Steve Smith has also questioned whether Wilson will be the only institutional leader prosecuted for failing to report historical child sex allegations after the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions said they had not received referrals from NSW Police following an Anglican royal commission hearing in Newcastle.

The archbishop has refused to quit his post, and Mr Turnbull has previously said Wilson should resign. "The time has come for the Pope to sack him".

Wilson stepped aside from his duties after his conviction, but remains archbishop.

The Adelaide Archbishop has said that he will appeal his conviction and that he would resign if that appeal failed. "At this time, I am entitled to exercise my legal rights and to follow the due process of law", The Australian quoted the archbishop as saying.

The court has adjourned the matter until August 14 to assess whether Wilson is suitable to serve the sentence under home detention.

Turnbull speaks to the media in Sydney Australia. — Reuters
Turnbull speaks to the media in Sydney Australia. — Reuters

Turnbull is a former lawyer who was born a Presbyterian but converted to Catholicism - his wife's religion - in 2002.

"Archbishop Wilson remained in office for the duration of his trial".

New South Wales Police Minister Troy Grant, who was a police detective in the 1990s when he uncovered widespread church child molesting in the Hunter Valley, has condemned the Vatican's support of Wilson.

"As far as Philip Wilson is concerned, he should have resigned and the time has come for the Pope to sack him", Mr Turnbull told reporters in Sydney today.

The Australian government is expected to issue an apology in October to the victims on behalf of the state.

"I want to reiterate what Archbishop Coleridge, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, made clear on Thursday".

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