Vatican replaces archbishop convicted of concealing child sex abuse

Australian Archbishop Philip Wilson is the highest-ranking Catholic official convicted of covering up sexual abuse.

(CNN)The Vatican on Sunday announced a temporary replacement for an Australian archbishop who was convicted of concealing child sex abuse by a fellow priest in the 1970s.

Pope Francis said in a statement that Greg O'Kelly, the current Bishop of Port Pirie, in the state of South Australia, would temporarily replace Philip Wilson, the Archbishop of Adelaide, who stepped aside after being convicted of covering up abuses last month.
Wilson is the highest ranking Catholic official to be convicted of covering up sexual abuse, part of a global scandal that has dogged the Vatican for decades.
The 67-year-old was found guilty of having concealed the abuse of altar boys in the 1970s by a pedophile priest colleague, James Fletcher, when he was an assistant parish priest in the state of New South Wales.
    Archbishop Wilson stepped down on May 23, a day after he was convicted at the Newcastle Local Court in New South Wales.
    As part of his defense, Wilson's legal team argued that because 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).
    At the time, Wilson released a statement that said, "If at any point in time it becomes necessary or appropriate for me to take more formal steps, including by resigning as archbishop, then I will do so."
    Wilson faces a maximum penalty of two years in prison.

    Letter asks families to 'pray for him'

    Following the conviction, a letter from Wilson was sent to Catholic schools across South Australia asking families to "pray" for him, according to the ABC.
    In the letter, Wilson said that, "while the legal process runs its course, I want to assure the Catholic faithful in the Archdiocese of my continued prayers and best wishes and assure everyone that the affairs of the Archdiocese will be appropriately managed in my absence."
    However some parents of schoolchildren who received the letter criticized the Archbishop's apparent lack of remorse for his crime and lack of empathy for victims of sexual abuse.

    Historical abuse

    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, ac