Religion News Australia

January 1 – 8, 2023

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Victorian court allows abused altar boy’s children and wife to sue Catholic church (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 4 – A Victorian court has paved the way for the children and wife of an abused altar boy to sue the Catholic church, alleging the church’s failings caused their father and husband to become a violent alcoholic and drug addict who beat them later in life.

Catholic Church

The pope and the Jews: How are we to assess Benedict’s legacy? (ABC News)
Jan 2 – (Opinion: David J. Wasserstein) In 2005, when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elevated to (The Guardian, Australia) predecessor was the first) — one of the first things that most people heard about him was that he was a former member of the Hitler Youth.

Benedict fought sex abuse more than past popes. Survivors say he was part of the problem (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 2 – (Opinion: Nicole Winfield) Vatican City: Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is rightly credited with having been one of the 20th century’s most prolific Catholic theologians, a teacher-pope who preached the faith via volumes of books, sermons and speeches.

It’s a papal version of Succession: at Benedict XVI’s funeral, the plotting will begin (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 3 – (Opinion: Catherine Pepinster) Airlines usually upgrade cardinals to first class and offer them champagne.

120 cardinals, 400 bishops, 4000 priests and 1 Pope to bury another (The Age, Melbourne)
Jan 4 – Vatican City: Former pope Benedict, a hero to Roman Catholic conservatives who shocked the world by resigning nearly a decade ago, will be given a final farewell on Thursday at a funeral presided over by his successor, Pope Francis.

‘Santo Subito!’ Supporters demand sainthood for Benedict as Pope Francis leads funeral (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 6 – Vatican City: Pope Francis led the funeral of former Pope Benedict on Thursday, tenderly touching the coffin of his predecessor as he stood supported on a cane before tens of thousands of mourners, with some calling for the late pontiff to be made a saint.

From the horrors of Hitler’s war to a life devoted to truth (The Australian)
Jan 6 – (Opinion: Henry Ergas ) Joseph Ratzinger struggled with the papacy but he proved to be a humble man of his word whose qualities deserve to be celebrated.

Religious Violence

Extreme-right Israeli minister visits al-Aqsa mosque compound (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 3 – The extreme-right Israeli firebrand Itamar Ben-Gvir has visited Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound for the first time since becoming a minister, his spokesperson has said, angering Palestinians who see the move as a provocation.

Also: Arab nations condemn Itamar Ben-Gvir’s visit to al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem (ABC News)
Jan 4 – Israel’s far-right national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has briefly visited the compound that houses the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, a move condemned by Palestinians as provocative and despite warnings it could lead to violence.

Chess player ‘warned not to return to Iran’ after competing without hijab (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 4 – Dubai: An Iranian chess player arrived in Spain after receiving what a source close to her said were warnings not to return to Iran for competing without a hijab at an international tournament in Kazakhstan.

Two Iranian teens face death (The Australian)
Jan 4 – Campaigners fear a hundred could be hanged as an intimidation tactic in a bid to quell the demonstrations.

Outcry over footage of men smashing cross at Jerusalem cemetery (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 6 – Security camera footage of men wearing Jewish religious clothing smashing a stone cross in a historic Jerusalem cemetery has prompted claims that Israeli extremists are responsible for the desecration of more than 30 Christian graves.

Iran’s regime is cracking, but a challenge remains to ensure the revolution isn’t ‘hijacked’ (ABC News)
Jan 8 – Iran’s youth are no strangers to operating underground.

Iranian man arrested on suspicion of planning an ‘Islamist-motivated’ chemical attack in Germany (ABC News)
Jan 8 – German police have arrested a 32-year-old Iranian citizen suspected of having procured deadly poisons cyanide and ricin to commit an “Islamist-motivated” attack, authorities have said.


Serafina Tane grew up in the Camp David religious cult. This is what it felt like to leave (ABC News)
Jan 3 – Serafina Tane was born into a religious cult on New Zealand’s South Island.

Friend of Satan: how Lucien Greaves and his Satanic Temple are fighting the religious right (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 4 – A statue of Baphomet – a pagan idol used in popular culture as a representation of the devil, with the head, horns and feet of a goat, the torso of a man and the wings of an angel – is the centrepiece of the Satanic Temple’s headquarters in Salem, Massachusetts.

Kyiv says Moscow’s declaration, after Russian president cited appeal from patriarch, is ‘hypocrisy’ (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 6 – Ukraine has rejected an announcement by Vladimir Putin of a 36-hour ceasefire to mark Orthodox Christmas, saying there will be no truce until Russia removes its invading forces from occupied land.

Mourners killed after truck hits funeral procession in China (ABC News)
Jan 8 – Nineteen people have died and at least 20 have been injured after a truck crashed into mourners on the side of a road in China.


Returned Islamic State wife charged over alleged travel to terrorist stronghold (ABC News)
Jan 4 – A 31-year-old woman who returned to New South Wales from Syria in October has been charged with entering or remaining in an area controlled by the so-called Islamic State group.

Cops suspect ISIS bride was wedded to cause (The Australian)
Jan 6 – Police allege the wife of ISIS’s star Australian recruiter travelled to Syria willingly and was aware of her husband’s activities.

What Australia can learn from Europe’s prosecution of returned IS wives (ABC News)
Jan 7 – Their return last year sparked debate, and an arrest this week fanned the flames, but a look overseas provides insight into how other countries have dealt with some returned IS (Islamic State) wives.


Catholic community prays for 10-year-old’s recovery (ABC News)
Jan 7 – Around 200 family and friends of a 10-year-old boy fighting for life after a fatal helicopter crash have prayed for his survival at a mass in Western Sydney.

Convicted Sydney terrorist to face court for breaching jail release conditions (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 8 – After spending five years in jail for threatening to behead police and to murder a magistrate, last month Blake Pender became the first convicted terrorist in NSW, and only the second in the country, to be placed on an extended supervision order even though he was already back in jail having been re-arrested in November for breaching interim orders.