SYDNEY - An Australian archbishop was Tuesday found guilty of covering up child sex abuse in the 1970s - one of the highest-ranked church officials globally to be successfully prosecuted for such offences.

Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson, 67, was accused of concealing abuse by notorious paedophile priest Jim Fletcher in the Hunter region of New South Wales state by failing to report the allegations.

He denied the charges and his legal team made four attempts to have the case thrown out, arguing Wilson’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s should preclude him from trial - even though it did not prevent him retaining his position in the church.

Magistrate Robert Stone found him guilty at Newcastle Local Court of concealing a serious indictable offence of another person, with the archbishop facing a maximum of two years in jail. Sentencing will be at a later date. “I am obviously disappointed at the decision published today,” Wilson said in a brief statement.

 “I will now have to consider the reasons and consult closely with my lawyers to determine the next steps.”

There was no dispute that Fletcher, who is now dead, sexually abused altar boy Peter Creigh, with the hearing focused on whether Wilson, then a junior priest, was told about it.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported from the court that Stone found Creigh, who broke down in tears after the verdict, to be a truthful and reliable witness.