Democracy is founded on certain cornerstone principles. One of such principles is the equality of all before the law.
Australia is listed among the world’s strongest democracies. However, a decision Tuesday by Newcastle Court Magistrate Robert Stone to allow retired Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson, 67, to serve his detention on conviction of concealing child sex abuse by Father James Fletcher back in 1976, at home might put a stain on this repute.
The court seems to have based its decision on the health of the prelate. However, it is difficult to deny that the Bishop’s priestly status might have influenced the judge’s decision. The decision has come as a shock to the families of the victims.
As a Bishop of the Catholic Church, a priest of the Christ, Jesus, it is not too much to say that Wilson should be a beacon of truth and an example to his flock and the rest of society. To have failed in his moral duties should have earned him a stricter sentence and not a “detention at home”.
There should not be preferential treatment in a democratic society as it can lead to impunity for certain individuals. It is equally shocking that the Catholic Church, plagued with cases of child sex abuse by its Priests, has not stripped Wilson of his priestly title.
This situation does not bode well for Australian democracy. The Australian people will certainly not stand for condoning lies and child sex abuse.