Archbishop Philip Wilson
Archbishop Philip Wilson said he has not mishandled or covered up sexual abuse cases during his time in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese, north of Sydney, in the late 1970s and 80s.
"I have always tried to act correctly in these areas, and to do what's right, and I have such an abhorrence of this," he told The Weekend Australian.
"The thing is that I was 25 in 1975 when I was ordained as a priest. I had actually no idea that there were people in the world who were pedophiles. I had no idea that happened.
"I thought that maybe people had difficulties of virtue in regard to sexuality and so on in the priesthood, but I had never seen anything to raise suspicion."
Archbishop Wilson, who also heads the Australian bishops conference, has been accused of not doing enough in response to clerical sexual abuse when he was an office-holder in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese, The Australian report says.
Peter Gogarty, a victim of abuse by Jim Fletcher, a priest, has complained to police about a "conspiracy of silence" because he was preyed upon in an upstairs bedroom in the same house in the diocese in which Archbishop Wilson lived at the time.
Mr Gogarty, who was 12 when the abuse began, told ABC TV he would often see Philip Wilson as he was led in and out of the house by Fletcher, who died in jail in 2006.
Archbishop Wilson was a teacher at St Pius X High School in Adamstown in the late 70s, at the same time as pedophile priest John Denham was sexually abusing students.
He denied knowledge of abuse and rejected claims he mishandled the 1985 primary school investigation, but he conceded that "it seems to me that we were slow and late in getting our act together".
I never covered up abuse, says Archbishop Philip Wilson (The Australian)
I never covered up abuse, says Archbishop Philip Wilson (Herald Sun)