The Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide, Philip Wilson, has immediately taken indefinite leave to fight charges that he concealed child sex abuse allegedly committed by another priest during the 1970s. NSW Police issued Archbishop Wilson, the vice-president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, with a future court attendance notice to face a single charge of concealing a serious indictable offence. He is understood to be the most senior Catholic official worldwide to face court over a criminal allegation of this type and could face up to two years in prison if convicted.


In a statement this afternoon, Archbishop Wilson says he’s disappointed that NSW police have decided to charge him. “The suggestion appears to be that I failed to bring to the attention of police a conversation I am alleged to have had in 1976, when I was a junior priest, that a now deceased priest had abused a child,” he said. “From the time this was first brought to my attention last year, I have completely denied the allegation.” The archbishop said he intended to “vigorously defend my innocence” and had retained Ian Tenby SC to represent him in the judicial system.

“I take this opportunity to reaffirm my commitment to dealing proactively with the issue of child sexual abuse and the implementation of best-practice child protection measures which I have pioneered since becoming a bishop.” Archbishop Wilson said his efforts had been widely acknowledged, including as a result of evidence he gave last year at the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse. “I would again like to express my deep sorrow for the devastating impact of clerical sex abuse on victims and their families, and give an assurance that despite this charge, I will continue to do what I can to protect the children in our care in the Archdiocese of Adelaide.”

He said he now intended to go on leave to consult with “a wide range of people in response to the information I have received today.” The charge alleges the archbishop failed to report child sex abuse allegedly committed by paedophile priest Jim Fletcher during the 1970s, when both men were working in the Maitland Diocese, near Newcastle in NSW. Fletcher died in 2006 after being jailed for raping a 13-year-old boy between 1989-91. Last year, a Special Commission of Inquiry found he “had an extensive history of perpetrating child sexual abuse in the diocese, exclusively abusing young males, particularly altar boys”. 

The commission found evidence that Fletcher’s offending began in the 1970s and identified at least five separate victims across the Newcastle region. A statement from NSW Police said: “A man has been charged after allegedly concealing a serious offence regarding child sexual abuse in the Hunter region.  Strike Force Lantle was initiated in 2010 to investigate allegations of concealment of serious offences related to child abuse by clergy formerly and currently attached to the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese of the Catholic Church. A future court attendance notice was served for conceal serious offence. The man will appear in Newcastle Local Court on 30 April.”


The eldest of 5 children, Archbishop Wilson was born in Cessnock in 1950 and studied at St Patrick’s Seminary in Sydney before returning to the Maitland Diocese as a priest in 1975. He subsequently served as bishop of Wollongong and was appointed archbishop of Adelaide in 2001. The charge against him has been brought by a NSW Police strike force, which sent its original brief of evidence to the state’s Director of Public Prosecutions in August 2012. Three months later, Newcastle detective Peter Fox told the ABC he had been “ordered to stand down from the case” and later claimed the investigation was a “sham” that had been “set up to fail”.


Last year, a NSW Commission of Inquiry found Mr Fox “made claims for which there was no proper basis” and his evidence to the commission about his fellow officers was “implausible” and “deliberately untruthful”. Evidence before the commission shows Mr Fox had no direct knowledge of the contents of the brief of evidence drawn up by the Strike Force at the time. “The Commission found that Fox had developed an obsession about both the Catholic Church and alleged conspiracies involving senior police. His email communications revealed a degree of paranoia and self-aggrandisement. In short, he had become a zealot,” the commission found.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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I’ve been really praying about this topic: worship and mission. These two words are like fire in my belly; they daily give me my purpose and reason. They are not entirely separate from each other; they are almost like a bride and groom—hard to have a wedding with just one of them. Yet mission will always be trumped by worship for worship abides forever. As we continue to create God’s throne room here among us, building His glorious throne of praise and going deeper in our understanding and experience, we will realize the passion God has for the lost and broken, that everyone needs to hear, see, and know the goodness of the Gospel.


I continually find myself in John 4, seeing and hearing the scene where “true worship” is discussed by Jesus and the Samaritan woman. Seeing that when Christ’s Lordship is established, living waters are our promise, inheritance, radical need, and God’s even more radical provision. As we continue to reveal Jesus in every area of our lives, I see God’s throne being established in our churches, in our communities, in our families, in our new experiences and in our traditions. For wherever He is enthroned, there you’ll find hearts that are open and thirsty for the one thing none of us can acquire elsewhere, only from relationship with Jesus: Living Water.


How can truthful and authentic worship be anything but missional? In genuine worship we are constantly declaring God’s goodness, always announcing and declaring that He is with us, always being filled with joy in his presence, always announcing freedom, always dependent on the Holy Spirit to fill us, change us, lead us, and turn our sorrows into joy, our mourning into dancing. To worship with our life means that it is not just in the singing of songs that we find our hearts emblazoned with mission, but it is the result of a worshipful life where mission finds its expression in the going, the sending, and the daily expression of our faith in the ordinary.


As Christ followers, all that we are should be somehow resulting in bringing the love and light of Christ to our world. Is this mission? Yes. Is this worship? Yes. I may not have been leading lots of worship through music over the last 12 months, but the mission of my life, as a worshiper, has not changed one bit. As I’ve sat in doctors’ waiting rooms and laid in bed for many months, that call to take Jesus to every sacred place burns in me just like leading people to His glorious courts through praise does.


Source: Thoughts of Darlene Zschech as expressed on Facebook

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The NSW Council of Churches has backed calls by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education for governments to embrace a broad public health approach to alcohol abuse in response to the release of a damning report on the impact of alcohol on children. The report, Hidden Harm: Alcohol’s Impact on Children and Families, launched recently by Australian of the Year Rosie Batty, found that 140,000 children were badly affected by the alcohol consumption of their parents or carers, and alcohol abuse contributed to the placement of 10,000 children in child protection.


The foundation wants a strong focus on prevention with national public education campaigns acknowledging the role of alcohol in family violence, targeted screening of young people at greater risk of harm, and population-wide policies to reduce the availability and target the price and promotion of alcohol. The chief executive of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, Michael Thorn, said state and federal governments needed to develop new policies to tackle the problem.

“If only governments would acknowledge that they can do something about problems like family violence by tackling the availability of alcohol, we will see reductions in the incidences of family violence and the severity of family violence.” The NSW Council of Churches supports consideration of harm minimisation measures to reduce alcohol-related violence including earlier pub closing times, lock-outs, restricting the advertising of alcohol, and raising the legal drinking age in NSW.


Source: Press Release – NSW Council of Churches

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The same-sex marriage debate has reached a critical point in recent days as plans were announced that a debate on a Bill to legalise same-sex marriage being proposed by Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm, would begin in the Senate on Thursday of this week. Senator Leyonhjelm is believed to have been pressured to bring forward his Bill by pro marriage equality proponents earlier than he had intended in order to pressure the Liberal party into deciding whether they would allow a conscience vote of the subject prior to the Parliament rising from its current sitting.

With the Liberal Party due to hold a party meeting yesterday, both sides of the debate went into full swing in a campaign to try and influence the party room decision on the matter. As a result of a campaign by many Christian activist groups, some 20,000 people sent emails to Liberal members since Monday asking them not to agree to a conscience vote but to hold firm on implementing Liberal Party policy of denying a conscience vote on the same-sex marriage issue. It is believed that emails against same-sex marriage outnumbered those supporting same-sex marriage by 5 to 1.

As a result of this activity the Liberal party room yesterday decided against changing the status quo meaning that Liberal members would continue to be denied a conscience vote and would have to vote as a block in line with Liberal Party policy.  Christian groups opposed to same-sex marriage have welcomed the party room decision which is a major set-back for the marriage equality advocates. It remains to be seen now whether Senator Leyonhjelm will continue with his announced plan to bring the matter forward for debate in the Senate today now that its defeat is assured by the Liberal Party’s decision to deny its members a conscience vote on the issue.  

Source: Compiled by APN from information provided by various sources

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