Retired Toronto priest Tom Brennan did not appear in Newcastle Local Court today for the first hearing of charges that he concealed crimes of another priest in the 1970s.
Magistrate Mark Buscombe was told that Father Brennan was unable to attend court because of treatment in hospital for a terminal illness.
The court was told an abdominal surgeon provided a medical certificate to say the priest could not attend court.
Father Brennan is charged with two counts of concealing the child sex crimes of a notorious Hunter paedophile priest.
He is also charged with sexually assaulting a boy in the 1980s.
He did not enter pleas.
The matter will return to court on October 31 when the court will determine if witnesses will be called to a committal hearing.