Religion News Australia

February 16 – 23, 2020

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



New claims of inappropriate behaviour by current St Kevin’s teachers revealed (ABC News)
Feb 18  – A top Catholic school accused of a culture of cover-up has received reports of alleged inappropriate behaviour by several current teachers.

Also: St Kevin’s College headmaster resigns, dean of sport stood down following grooming scandal (ABC News)
Feb 19 – The headmaster of St Kevin’s College in Melbourne has resigned and the school’s dean of sport has been stood down following a Four Corners story about the college’s response to the grooming of a student by a former athletics coach.

Also: New allegation of inappropriate sexual conduct by St Kevin’s teacher revealed in court action (ABC News)
Feb 19 – The Catholic boys school at the centre of a grooming scandal is facing fresh allegations it mishandled concerns about inappropriate sexual conduct by a teacher towards a student.

Also: St Kevin’s College deputy principal asked to step aside in wake of Four Corners investigation (ABC News)
Feb 20  – The deputy principal of St Kevin’s College, Janet Canny, has been asked by the school’s governing body to step aside pending an investigation into allegations she mishandled concerns about inappropriate sexual conduct by another teacher towards a student.

Also: What we haven’t learnt from St Kevin’s (Sydney Morning Herald)
Feb 20 – (Opinion: Kasey Edwards) “How could this have happened? And how was it allowed to go on for so long undetected?”

Also: St Kevin’s College scandal: Parents reassured over groomer (The Australian)
Feb 20 – Another Melbourne private school has written to parents over the controversy surrounding a convicted child groomer that has seen St Kevin’s College’s headmaster resign, his deputy asked to stand aside and its sports dean suspended.

Also: Child protection groups condemn Andrew Bolt for saying convicted St Kevin’s groomer ‘hit on’ victim (The Guardian, Australia)
Feb 20 – Child protection advocates have condemned Andrew Bolt’s use of the phrase “hit on” to describe the sexual grooming of a year 9 school boy by his athletics coach, saying the language was inappropriate and minimised the seriousness of the offence.

Also: St Kevin’s principal says ‘courageous’ boys gave mandate for change (Sydney Morning Herald)
Feb 21 – St Kevin’s College’s new principal has promised students and parents his “door is always open” and said the students who spoke out about grooming had given the school a “mandate for change”.

Also: St Kevin’s student groomed by coach says Andrew Bolt comments make him sick (The Guardian, Australia)
Feb 21 – A former student of St Kevin’s College who was sexually groomed by his athletics coach has angrily condemned Andrew Bolt and Gerard Henderson’s characterisation of the crime, saying their comments made him “sick”.

Also: St Kevin’s College dean of sports Luke Travers and two other teachers leave school (ABC News)
Feb 23 – Three staff at St Kevin’s College in Melbourne have left the top Catholic school, which is under pressure over its handling of sexual misconduct allegations.

Also: St Kevin’s grooming scandal: The organisation moving on from Christian Brothers’ dark past (The Age, Melbourne)
Feb 23  – On Tuesday morning, as St Kevin’s College found itself at the centre of a grooming scandal, an unfamiliar figure appeared at a hastily convened school assembly to address the students.

Also: St Kevin’s College, abuse and the language of pain (The Saturday Paper)
Feb 23 – (Opinion: Luke Macaronas) An ugly wound has been opened at the heart of St Kevin’s College this week, after revelations in a Four Corners report about the school’s failures to respond to complaints of a culture of secrecy, toxic masculinity and sexual abuse.

High Court ponders Pell witness testimony (The Australian)
Feb 20  – Cardinal Pell’s barristers argue that the wrong approach was taken in assessing the testimony of his victim.

Also: Pell guilty verdict defence ‘piecemeal’ (The Australian)
Feb 21 – George Pell’s legal team argue the Court of Appeal majority didn’t independently weigh the combined effect of the evidence.

MPs astounded at further Leifer delay (The Australian)
Feb 20  – Coalition and Labor MPs have hit out at the decision to allow psychiatrists to testify again that the former Melbourne principal is not mentally fit.

Also: Protection of alleged rapist strains Israel-Australia relationship (The Age, Melbourne)
Feb 21  – Israeli politician Elazar Stern says his country’s handling of the case of Malka Leifer, the former Melbourne school principal attempting to avoid extradition to Australia from Israel to face 74 child sexual abuse charges, has damaged the relationship between the two nations.

School declined public appeal on sex abuse claims to protect image (Sydney Morning Herald)
Feb 23  – A former teacher at a prestigious NSW school has been charged with child sexual abuse offences almost six years after the administration declined to launch a public “fishing expedition” for abuse survivors following a meeting with one of his alleged victims.


Saint Therese’s relics begin national tour as Catholics flock to pay homage (ABC News)
Feb 18 – She was described as the “Little Jesus Flower” for her small acts of kindness and love, and Australian Catholics are lining-up to pay homage to the relics of France’s Saint Therese of Lisieux.


Catholic charity founder sexually abused women, says report (The Guardian, Australia)
Feb 23  – A respected Catholic figure who worked to improve conditions for people with developmental disabilities for more than half a century sexually abused at least six women during most of that period, according to a report released on Saturday by the France-based charity he founded.

Catholic Church

Vatican archives of ‘Hitler’s Pope’ Pius XII to open, sparking intense interest from historians (ABC News)
Feb 21  – More than 150 historians and researchers have signed up to access the Vatican archives of Pope Pius XII, which are poised to be unsealed, potentially uncovering new details about his record during the Holocaust.


Indonesia could force LGBT people into rehabilitation under draft ‘family resilience’ law (ABC News)
Feb 20  – A proposed bill to be considered by Indonesian Parliament would compel people with “deviant” sexual persuasions to undergo “rehabilitation”.

Religious Violence

China’s Uyghurs detained for simple acts of faith, leaked documents show (ABC News)
Feb 18 – For decades, Uyghur imam Memtimin Emer was a bedrock of his farming community in China’s far west.

Taliban figure Ehsanullah Ehsan, who claimed responsibility for Malala Yousafzai shooting, escapes  (ABC News)
Feb 20  – A high-profile local Taliban figure who announced and justified the 2012 attack on teenage Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai has escaped detention, Pakistan’s Interior Minister confirmed a few days after the militant announced his breakout on social media.

Man stabbed in London mosque (The Australian)
Feb 21  – A 29-year-old man was arrested and charged after stabbing another man while he was making the call to prayer.


How Hindu supremacists are tearing India apart (The Guardian, Australia)
Feb 20  – For seven decades, India has been held together by its constitution, which promises equality to all.

Mysterious cult at centre of coronavirus outbreak in South Korea (
Feb 21  – A coronavirus outbreak in South Korea has been traced to a mysterious doomsday cult church.

Also: South Korea screens thousands of religious sect members for coronavirus (The Guardian, Australia)
Feb 23 – Thousands of members of a secretive religious sect in South Korea are being screened for the new coronavirus after more than 430 cases were confirmed in the country by officials, one of several fresh clusters of the disease globally.

Jägermeister logo does not offend Christians, court rules (
Feb 23  – The logo for the popular alcoholic drink Jägermeister was found not to be religiously offensive by a Swiss court earlier this week.


‘Jewish community may become a target’ (The Australian)
Feb 20  – Confidential bulletin raises terror threat for Australian Jewish community ahead of visit by Israeli president Reuven Rivlin.


Religious discrimination bill backfires on Christians (Sydney Morning Herald)
Feb 19 – (Opinion: Luke Beck) Conservative Christians are some of the biggest supporters of Scott Morrison’s religious discrimination bill.

Liberal MP Lucy Wicks denies conflict of interest over grant to church that called her a ‘dear friend’ (The Guardian, Australia)
Feb 20  – A wealthy pentecostal church whose leader described the Liberal MP Lucy Wicks as a “dear friend” won thousands of dollars through a grant process Wicks wields influence over.