efe-epaSydney, Australia

An Australian court on Tuesday found the archbishop of Adelaide guilty of concealing child sex abuse cases in the 1970s, although his sentence will be announced at a later date.

Magistrate Robert Stone of Newcastle Court on Tuesday found Adelaide's archbishop Philip Wilson guilty of four charges over his attempt to cover up for sexual abuse committed by late priest James Fletcher.

Wilson, who is the most senior member of the Catholic Church in the world to be charged with concealing child sexual abuse crimes, faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison, but Magistrate Robert still has an option of suspending the sentence, according to national broadcaster ABC.

The main case against Wilson is for failing to report Fletcher's abuse of a 10-year-old boy, identified as Peter Creigh, in the Hunter Valley region near Newcastle in 1971, when he learned of them.

During the trial, Justice Stone said that he found Creigh's testimony credible and true.

"I am satisfied and find that Mr Creigh described to the accused he performed fellatio of Fletcher and masturbated Mr Fletcher," the magistrate said.

The judge also ruled out Wilson's claims that he could not remember a conversation he had with Creigh in 1976, when the victim, who was about 15 years old at that time, described Fletcher's abuse to him.

He also noted that Creigh "had no motive or interest to deceive or make up the conversation" about the abuses at the hands of Fletcher, who was convicted in 2004 of nine counts of sexual abuse and died in prison 13 months later.

According to the magistrate, Wilson, who was appointed as archbishop of Adelaide in 2001 and charged with the crime in 2015, knew "what the young man was saying was a credible allegation," and he also knew the victim's family.

During the hearing, Wilson's legal team argued that the archbishop, who wears a pacemaker and was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, could not appear before the judge because the disease impacted his "cognitive functions."

His lawyer, Stephen Odgers, also argued that Wilson should never have been convicted of the crime because at that time the offenses would have been considered "indecent acts" instead of a crime.

Wilson's trial came after Australian police launched an intensive investigation into child sexual abuse cases allegedly concealed by former and current priests of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.