Religion News Australia

January 29 – February 12, 2023

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



George Pell funeral: removing abuse victims’ ribbons is wrong, former church official says (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 31 – Francis Sullivan, the former head of the Catholic church’s Truth Justice and Healing Council, says the removal of ribbons commemorating abuse survivors from St Mary’s Cathedral appears designed to prevent the scandal from being “associated with Cardinal [George] Pell” in the days leading up to his funeral.

Protesters clash with Catholic faithful outside Cardinal George Pell’s funeral (Sydney Morning Herald)
Feb 3 – Former prime minister Tony Abbott has praised Cardinal George Pell as a great hero who endured a “modern-day crucifixion”, as mourners and protesters clashed at the controversial Catholic cleric’s funeral in Sydney.

As George Pell departs, every ribbon tells a story the church tried to silence (Brisbane Times)
Feb 3 – As people arrived one by one to put up ribbons at St Mary’s Cathedral over the past week, Ballarat child abuse survivor Paul Auchettl would quietly approach them.

Pell farewell and a moment of revelation (The Australian)
Feb 3 – George Pell’s brother has accused a Catholic leader of ordering the late cardinal to back disgraced pedophile Gerard Ridsdale.

Vatican’s most senior woman says Catholic Church ‘failed’ child abuse victims (ABC News)
Feb 4 – The Vatican’s most senior woman says the Catholic Church has “failed” victims of child abuse, and the church must become more modern and inclusive to stay relevant.

Push to have disgraced former governor-general Peter Hollingworth defrocked  (ABC News)
Feb 5 – Beth Heinrich has been waiting for justice for decades.

Psychologist who complained about Peter Hollingworth says she has ‘lost faith’ in church process (The Guardian, Australia)
Feb 7 – A school psychologist who complained about former governor general and Anglican archbishop Peter Hollingworth’s handling of child abuse allegations says she has “lost faith” in the protracted and secretive complaints process relied on by the church.


No ‘woke’ gender neutral god in my church: Bishop (The Australian)
Feb 10 – The bishop of the breakaway Anglican movement, the Diocese of the Southern Cross, says a proposal to stop referring to God as ‘He’ or ‘Our Father’ is a vindication of his split with the church.


As Pell the man is laid to rest, Pell the martyr rises (Sydney Morning Herald)
Feb 3 – Among mourners at Cardinal George Pell’s Requiem Mass, grief was imbued with defiance.

Leaders lacked courage on Pell (The Australian)
Feb 3 – (Opinion: editorial) All people of faith, Catholic and non-Catholic, deserved better.

Pell ‘our greatest Catholic … a saint for these times’ (The Australian)
Feb 3 – (Opinion: Tony Abbott) In his eulogy for George Pell, former prime minister Tony Abbott celebrates a wonderful life, a once-in-a-generation gathering and a rededication to the ideals the late Cardinal lived for.

Pell thrived on conflict and it cost him dearly (The Australian)
Feb 4 – (Opinion: Frank Brennan) George Pell was an old-style churchman who never shrank from a fight. But by the time of his death, he was no longer a team player.


Power and purity (ABC News)
Jan 31 – At the end of each academic year, a graduating group of schoolgirls gathers in identical white gowns.

Also: ‘Not a crime to be Catholic’: Perrottet defends faith as former school comes under fire (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 31 – Premier Dominic Perrottet has defended parental choice in education as his former school faces allegations of preaching hardline religious views on sexuality, such as the value of chastity and the dangers of masturbation.

Anglican Church

Same-sex marriage row looms over Church of England synod (The Guardian, Australia)
Feb 5 – The repeal of a century-old act of parliament that allows the Church of England to govern itself is among options being considered by MPs frustrated at the church’s continued refusal to offer marriage equality to same-sex couples.

Also: Church of England allows blessings for same-sex couples, but continues ban on weddings (ABC News)
Feb 10 – The Church of England’s national assembly has voted to let priests bless same-sex marriages and civil partnerships while continuing to ban church weddings for those couples.

Also: Church of England allows gay couples to be blessed (The Australian)
Feb 10 – The General Synod votes in favour after more than eight hours of emotionally charged debate that laid bare deep divisions.

Church of England explores using gender neutral terminology to refer to God in prayer (ABC News)
Feb 9 – The Church of England will look into the use of gender neutral terms to refer to God in prayers, but the centuries-old institution said on Wednesday there were no plans to abolish current services.

Catholic Church

Vatican expels ‘rebel nuns’ for refusing to leave Italian monastery (The Guardian, Australia)
Feb 7 – Known in the clifftop town of Ravello as “the rebel nuns”, Massimiliana Panza and Angela Maria Punnackal left the Santa Chiara monastery on Saturday after receiving a letter signed by Pope Francis telling them they were being relieved of “the obligations of sacred ordination”.

Religious Violence

Blast at mosque in Pakistan’s Peshawar targets police, at least 59 people killed (ABC News)
Jan 31 – A suicide bomber has struck a crowded mosque inside a police compound in Pakistan, causing the roof to collapse, killing at least 59 people and wounding more than 150 others.

Also: Pakistan says mosque bomber wore police uniform, breached security on motorbike (ABC News)
Feb 3 – The suicide bomber who killed more than 100 people at a mosque in a police compound Peshawar, Pakistan this week wore a police uniform and entered the high security area on a motorbike, a provincial police chief says.

Father’s ‘honour killing’ of YouTube star daughter sparks outrage in Iraq (ABC News)
Feb 4 – The death of a young YouTube star at the hands of her father has sparked outrage in Iraq, where so-called “honour killings” continue to take place in the country.


Head of Russian Orthodox Church ‘was a spy for KGB’ (Sydney Morning Herald)
Feb 7 – Warsaw: The head of the Russian Orthodox Church worked as a spy for the KGB in the 1970s, according to newly declassified Swiss records.


Calls for ClubsNSW boss to resign after ‘Catholic gut’ comments (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 31 – The future of ClubsNSW boss Josh Landis hangs in the balance after key independent MPs, senior cabinet ministers and religious groups lambasted him for criticising Premier Dominic Perrottet’s Catholic faith.

Also: ‘Catholic gut’ attack cheap, offensive and a serious strategic miscalculation (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 31 – (Opinion: editorial)  ClubsNSW is a well-resourced lobby group with a reputation for fighting hard when its back is against the wall.

Government under pressure to list Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as terrorist group (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 31 – A bipartisan parliamentary committee is set to call on the federal government to list Iran’s brutal Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organisation, as new evidence emerges of Iran’s attempts to strong-arm Iranian Australians.

Perrottet is no slave to his ‘Catholic gut’, but religion does cross into politics (Sydney Morning Herald)
Feb 3 – (Opinion: Margot Saville) A gratuitous attack on Premier Dominic Perrottet’s Catholicism has spotlighted the problematic relationship between religion and politics in this country.

WA upper house Liberal MP Goiran hits out at critics in email blast (Sydney Morning Herald)
Feb 3 – Influential Liberal MP Nick Goiran has lashed out at his detractors and declared people of faith were “not going anywhere” from parliament in a fiery email sent to his party faithful after a horror week that saw him lose both his shadow ministerial responsibilities and parliamentary secretary role.

Councillors push for end to ‘inappropriate’ Christian prayers at meetings (The Age, Melbourne)
Feb 3 – A group of Victorian councillors has written to the state government calling for guidelines to end Christian prayers in local council meetings.

Christian Lobby, deputy premier pushback over Pussay Poppins drag storytime event at Library (ABC News)
Feb 7 – Tasmania’s education minister is resisting calls to cancel a book reading by a drag queen at a state-run library, even as the state’s deputy premier declared he “wouldn’t be taking my children”.


LGBT Christians help each other navigate challenges of finding a place in church  (ABC News)
Feb 8 – On a hot January afternoon in Perth, members of a church group are perfecting a banner in the office boardroom where they meet.