Religion News Australia

March 26 – April 2, 2023

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Malka Leifer sex abuse trial nears end as jury set to reach some unanimous verdicts (ABC News)
Mar 28 – The jury in the Malka Leifer child sex abuse trial has reached unanimous verdicts on some of the charges in the case, but is yet to reveal its decision in court.


Sydney private schools breach enrolment caps by hundreds of students (Sydney Morning Herald)
Apr 1 – Some of Sydney’s most sought-after private schools are operating with hundreds more students than enrolment caps allow, with multiple high-fee colleges breaching strict limits on how many pupils can be educated at the schools.

Catholic Church

‘Religious excuse’: Vatican claims popes were coerced into backing colonialism (Brisbane Times)
Apr 1 – Alicante, Spain: In an attempt to distance itself from the historic abuse of indigenous peoples of former European colonies, the Vatican has declared that past popes were “manipulated” by European powers to justify their colonialism of the Americas.

Pope Francis in hospital with respiratory infection ahead of busy Easter week (ABC News)
Apr 2 – Pope Francis has a respiratory infection and will need to spend “a few days” in hospital for treatment, according to a Vatican statement.

Also: Pope Francis to be released from hospital and will attend Palm Sunday service (ABC News)
Apr 2 – Pope Francis baptised a baby and greeted children in hospital as the Vatican confirmed he will return home on Saturday after being hospitalised for a bout of bronchitis.

Pope Francis leaves hospital after recovering from bronchitis episode, says ‘I’m still alive’ (ABC News)
Apr 2 – Pope Francis has left hospital and returned to the Vatican after being treated for bronchitis, making light of his illness by saying: “I’m still alive, you know.”


Humza Yousaf set to become Scotland’s first Muslim leader (Sydney Morning Herald)
Mar 28 – London: Humza Yousaf, the grandson of a Pakistani immigrant who arrived barely speaking English to work in a sewing machine factory in Glasgow, has been named as the new leader of the Scottish National Party.

Founder of Afghan girls’ school project arrested in Kabul (The Guardian, Australia)
Mar 28 – The founder of a project that campaigned for girls’ education in Afghanistan has been detained by Taliban authorities in Kabul, his brother and the UN have said.

Activist Vahid Beheshti on hunger strike to uphold freedom, aid regime change in Iran (ABC News)
Apr 2 – When Iran International TV “reluctantly” closed its studios in West London because of death threats against its journalists, British-Iranian journalist and human rights activist Vahid Beheshti decided it was time to take a fight to UK’s parliament.

Taliban close women-run Afghan station for playing music (Sydney Morning Herald)
Apr 2 – Jalalabad: Afghanistan’s only women-run radio station has been shut down for playing music during the holy month of Ramadan, a Taliban official said.

Religious Violence

Two teenagers arrested over Birmingham mosque attack (The Guardian, Australia)
Mar 31 – Two teenage boys have been arrested on suspicion of attacking a 73-year-old man as he walked home from a mosque in Birmingham.

Man shot dead by police near Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque (The Guardian, Australia)
Apr 1 – A man detained near al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem was shot dead after he grabbed an officer’s gun and fired it, police said.

Iran’s leader says hijab is the law as unveiled women suffer ‘yoghurt attack’ (ABC News)
Apr 2 – President Ebrahim Raisi says the hijab was the law in Iran, after a viral video showed a man throwing yoghurt at two unveiled women in a shop near a holy Shi’ite Muslim city.


Thai authorities detain Chinese church members seeking asylum amid deportation fears (ABC News)
Mar 31 – More than 60 members of a Chinese Christian church have been detained in Thailand, supporters said on Friday, raising fears they may be returned to their home country, where they face possible persecution.

Indian well cover collapses under crowd of Hindus, leaving 35 dead (ABC News)
Mar 31 – Army soldiers and other responders have found 35 bodies inside a well after a structure built over it collapsed in India.

Leading priest of Ukrainian Orthodox church under house arrest for allegedly condoning invasion (ABC News)
Apr 2 – A Ukrainian court has ordered a leading Orthodox priest who is accused by authorities of condoning Russia’s invasion to be put under house arrest.


Adelaide man arrested for allegedly sharing Christchurch massacre footage online (ABC News)
Mar 28 – An Adelaide man who allegedly shared extremist material relating to the 2019 Christchurch terrorist attack, in which 51 people were murdered, has been arrested and will face court later this year.


Under God or with the Bhagavad Gita, Minns’ interim ministry swears in (Sydney Morning Herald)
Mar 28 – One by one, under the immortalised gaze of Queen Mary, the grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II, they rose to take the oath. Some swore under God, others not – one, for the first time, clutched the Bhagavad Gita, a holy Hindu scripture.


‘I want it to have a future’: churches in rural Australia are struggling to keep the lights on (The Guardian, Australia)
Mar 28 – Dwindling attendance has seen a drop in the number of operational churches in regional Australia, and ministers say the church has to change to survive.