(CNN)An Australian archbishop is facing up to two years in prison after being convicted of concealing child sex abuse by a fellow priest in the 1970s.
Australian archbishop guilty of covering up sex child abuse
Archbishop Philip Wilson is the highest ranking Catholic official to be convicted of covering up sexual abuse, part of a global scandal which has dogged the Vatican for decades.
The 67-year-old archbishop of Adelaide was found guilty of having concealed the abuse of altar boys by a pedophile priest colleague, James Fletcher, in the 1970s, when he was an assistant parish priest in the state of New South Wales.
Magistrate Robert Stone ruled the "offense proven."
As part of his defense, Wilson's legal team argued that as child sexual abuse was not considered a serious crime in the 1970s, it was not worthy of being reported to authorities, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
In a statement issued by the church on Wednesday, Wilson said he was "obviously disappointed" with the verdict.
"I will now have to consider the reasons and consult closely with my lawyers to determine the next steps ... I do not propose to make any further comment at this stage," he added.
Archbishop Wilson was a junior priest when Fletcher, a Catholic Priest based in the Hunter Valley of NSW, abused altar boys. Wilson was charged in 2015, accused of failing to report Fletcher's abuse to police.
Fletcher died in prison in 2006, a year after being found guilty of eight counts of child abuse and sentenced to 10 years.
Speaking to reporters outside the Newcastle Court on Tuesday, one of Fletcher's victims praised the Archbishop's conviction.
Former altar boy Peter Creigh, who waived his right to a non-publication order on his name, said, "It's a decision that will hopefully unravel the hypocrisy, the deceit, and the abuse of power and trust that the Church has displayed. And I say that on behalf of all victims, because it is a very, very significant day."
Creigh told the court he had described the abuse to Wilson in detail, five yea