June 3, 2018 / 2:07 PM / 9 months ago

Pope names administrator for Australian diocese after child sex abuse case

FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis arrives to lead the Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican, May 23, 2018. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/File Photo

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis nominated on Sunday a special administrator to the Australian archdiocese of Adelaide after its head was found guilty last month of concealing child sex abuse by a priest.

Gregory O’Kelly - who is the Bishop of Port Pirie, a diocese north of Adelaide - will take the role known in Church law as “Apostolic Administrator”.

The Vatican appoints such administrators in a variety of circumstances including when a bishop or archbishop cannot fulfil his duties.

Philip Wilson, the archbishop of Adelaide and a former president of the Roman Catholic Church’s top body in Australia, was accused of covering up a serious indictable offence by another priest, James Fletcher, after being told about it in 1976.

Wilson is expected to be sentenced by an Australian court in June. He faces a maximum penalty of two years in jail.

Lawyers for Wilson had argued that he did not know that Fletcher had abused a boy. Fletcher was found guilty in 2004 of nine counts of child sexual abuse and died in jail in 2006 following a stroke.

Reporting by Agnieszka Flak; editing by David Stamp

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