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Leadership changes after Newcastle verdict

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Adelaide Vicar General Father Philip Marshall has expressed his commitment to working closely with the clergy and laity to keep the life and renewal of the Archdiocese moving forward following the standing aside of Archbishop Wilson last week.

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Father Marshall has taken charge of the affairs of the Archdiocese with the support of newly appointed Adjunct Vicar General Father Anthoni Adimai SdM.

He also said one of his first priorities would be to “ensure we continue to be a Church where the safety of children is paramount and where survivors of abuse are listened to and supported”.

Archbishop Wilson announced he would stand aside, effective from Friday May 25, after being found guilty in the Newcastle Local Court of not reporting historical child sexual abuse in the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese.

Fr Marshall will assume principal responsibility for liturgical duties and direction of the Archdiocese while continuing to look after clergy matters and coordinating the Archdiocese’s renewal program.

Fr Adimai will remain as parish priest of Hectorville but will work alongside Fr Marshall in dealing with the affairs of the Archdiocese.

Chancellor Pauline Connelly has been appointed chair of the Archdiocesan Council for Child Protection and will act as the Archbishop’s delegate in managing and dealing with matters related to Professional Standards, the Police Check Unit and the Child Protection Unit.

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge issued a statement following the court ruling in which he noted Archbishop Wilson had maintained his innocence throughout the long judicial process.

“The Catholic Church, like other institutions, has learned a great deal about the tragedy of child sexual abuse and has implemented stronger programs, policies and procedures to protect children and vulnerable adults. The safety of children and vulnerable adults is paramount for the Church and its ministries,” Archbishop Coleridge said.

After Archbishop Wilson announced that he was standing aside, Archbishop Coleridge said the bishops believed his decision, though difficult, was appropriate under the circumstances.

“Our prayers are with all those who have felt the impact of this long legal process, including the survivors who shared their stories, as well as with the Archdiocese of Adelaide and with Archbishop Wilson himself,” he said.

In a memorandum to the faithful, Bishop of Port Pirie Greg O’Kelly SJ said his “heart goes out to all of you” following the news of the verdict.

“My faith in the Archbishop and his word is not shaken by this outcome. We should all pray for his strength.

“We pray at the same time for survivors for the harm inflicted by Church personnel. We have taken too long to acknowledge our need to care for survivors. All sorts of good people have become entangled in these outcomes.

“Let us pray that our Church through its good men and women and their faithfulness will continue to show forth the face of Christ, in all its pain and grace,” Bishop O’Kelly wrote.

Archbishop Wilson will return to court on June 19 for sentencing.

 

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