Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson has told a NSW court he lived with a pedophile priest but had no idea he was abusing young boys.
Wilson, who's the most senior Catholic official in the world to be charged with concealing child sexual abuse, on Wednesday revealed he lived with James Fletcher, two other priests and the local bishop in the NSW Hunter region in 1983.
That was seven years after two former altar boys allegedly told Wilson they'd been abused by Fletcher.
Wilson told Newcastle Local Court he was never friends with Fletcher but thought he was a good bloke.
"I had no reason to suspect he wasn't," the 67-year-old said.
Cross-examined by prosecutor Gareth Harrison the archbishop said he'd had little in common with Fletcher and they didn't have the same interests.
Asked if he knew one of Fletcher's interests had been young boys, Wilson replied: "No."
Wilson earlier declared the two former altar boys never told him they'd been abused by Fletcher.
The archbishop, who's been diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, was giving evidence after magistrate Robert Stone rejected his "no case to answer" submission.
Wilson had known one of the former altar boys, Peter Creigh, and his family in 1976 when he was an assistant priest.
But he claimed he had no memory of Mr Creigh telling him he'd been repeatedly sexually abused by Fletcher five years earlier when he was 10.
Wilson said he believed the alleged conversation was unlikely to have occurred because Mr Creigh, when giving evidence in December, claimed he went into graphic details about what Fletcher had done to him.
The archbishop agreed with Mr Harrison that he would have been horrified if told about the abuse and would remember the discussion.
Questioned as to why Fletcher was moved to different parishes in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, Wilson said it was because he'd been a poor administrator.
Wilson denied Fletcher was moved because he'd been abusing boys.
Fletcher was found guilty in December 2004 of nine counts of child sexual abuse and died in jail of a stroke in 2006.
Wilson told the court he never had any suspicions about Fletcher before the pedophile priest was charged.
He also denied asking the then 15-year-old Peter Creigh if he'd told anyone else about the abuse because he was concerned about the reputation of the Catholic church.
"I would have been more concerned about the effect on the person who had been abused," Wilson said, adding the church's reputation "would not have played a major part in my thinking".
Mr Creigh previously said he trusted Wilson would take action against the pedophile priest.
The second altar boy, who can't be named for legal reasons, said he was about 11 in 1976 when he went into the confessional box to tell Wilson that Fletcher had abused him.
The witness claimed Wilson told him he was telling lies because Fletcher "was a good bloke". He was ordered out of the confessional box and told to say 10 Hail Marys as an act of contrition.
Wilson said he had no memory of seeing the second altar boy in 1976 and would never tell anyone in the confessional they were lying.
Questioned earlier about his health, Wilson said the prescribed medication he was taking to treat his Alzheimer's had helped improve his memory, "although it's not perfect".
The trial continues.
Australian Associated Press