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Pope names bishop to administer Adelaide archdiocese

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Pope Francis has appointed Gregory O’Kelly, the bishop of Port Pirie, the special administrator of Adelaide following the conviction of Archbishop Philip Wilson for covering up child sex crimes during the 1970s.

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Bishop O’Kelly, who will remain the bishop of Port Pirie, north of Adelaide, assumes administrative and executive authority in the archdiocese until any future decision of the Pope, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said in a statement.

Wilson was found guilty at Newcastle Local Court on May 22 of failing to report to police the repeated abuse of two altar boys by pedophile priest James Fletcher in the NSW Hunter region.

He is the most senior Catholic official in the world to be charged with concealing child sexual abuse.

He stood aside following the court’s decision and said if it became necessary at any point for him to resign, he would do so.

Wilson, who faces a maximum two years’ jail, is expected to be sentenced this month.

O’Kelly said he had been apointed “to address some of the needs occurring in the Archdiocese following Archbishop Philip Wilson’s decision to step down from his duties as a bishop”.

“The Pope’s intention is to provide stability for the people of the Archdiocese during these challenging times,” he said in a statement.

“This appointment does not affect my present position; I remain Bishop of the Diocese of Port Pirie.

“Archbishop Wilson remains Archbishop of Adelaide but as Apostolic Administrator I will exercise episcopal responsibilities in the Archdiocese.

“There is an excellent group of Church officials presently serving the Archdiocese and the day-to-day administration will continue to be carried out by those to whom I, as Apostolic Administrator, delegate that authority.”

– with AAP

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