Religion News Australia

April 2 – 9, 2023

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Win for victim-survivors as Vic Court of Appeal finds Catholic Church liable for abuse by priests (ABC News)
Apr 3 – A decision by Victoria’s highest court to uphold a landmark ruling that holds the Catholic church vicariously liable for the abuse of its priests has been hailed as a win for victim-survivors.

Also: Liability potential for Catholic Church after Vic Court of Appeal’s decision to uphold ruling (ABC News)
Apr 4 – Advocates and legal groups say a landmark “breakthrough” over the Catholic Church’s culpability for the crimes of paedophile priests will lead to better outcomes for victim-survivors.

Former church youth worker charged with multiple child sexual assault offences in Perth (ABC News)
Apr 9 – A 34-year-old former church youth worker has appeared in a Perth court to face more than a dozen child sexual abuse charges.

Malka Leifer

Malka Leifer found guilty of rape and child sex abuse of two sisters as jury reaches verdict (ABC News)
Apr 3 – Former Melbourne school principal Malka Leifer has been found guilty of child sexual abuse and rape charges following a trial in Victoria’s County Court.

Also: Former ultra-Orthodox school principal Malka Leifer found guilty of rape (Sydney Morning Herald)
Apr 3 – Malka Leifer, the former principal of a Jewish ultra-Orthodox school in Melbourne, has been found guilty of sexually abusing two former students after a 15-year campaign for her to face justice.

Also: People who allegedly helped Malka Leifer flee to Israel will not be charged: police (The Age, Melbourne)
Apr 3 – Police have closed their investigation into members of the Jewish ultra-Orthodox community who allegedly helped their former school principal and convicted sex abuser Malka Leifer to flee Australia and avoid justice for more than a decade.

Also: Leifer’s secret 1.20am flight from justice (The Australian)
Apr 3 – Jewish ultra-orthodox leaders didn’t go straight to Victoria Police, instead they acted quickly to send Malka Leifer to Israel.

Also: Malka Leifer: from ‘revered’ teacher to convicted sexual abuser (The Guardian, Australia)
Apr 3 – In an isolated ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, Malka Leifer was revered in a way three Melbourne sisters had never witnessed in a woman.


Russell Crowe has fun dancing with the devil in this twist on The Exorcist (Sydney Morning Herald)
Apr 7 – (Review) It came as something of a shock to learn the Vatican’s hierarchy includes a Chief Exorcist for the Diocese of Rome.

‘They have inspired composers for centuries’: a first for the seven last words of Christ (The Guardian, Australia)
Apr 7 – Five centuries after the Passion was first set to music, Jesus’s final words are to be sung in Welsh for the first time.

Catholic Church

Pope Francis encourages Easter congregation to remain hopeful (ABC News)
Apr 9 – Pope Francis returned to public view to preside over the Easter vigil Mass in St Peter’s Basilica, a day after unseasonably chilly weather in Rome convinced the recently ailing pontiff to skip Good Friday’s night-time procession to the Colosseum.


Shia Muslim scholars denied entry into US suspect religious bias (The Guardian, Australia)
Apr 3 – It took the US consulate seven minutes to reject Nabil Ahmed Shabbir’s visa application.

Religious Violence

Iranian police plan to use smart cameras to identify ‘violators of hijab law’ (The Guardian, Australia)
Apr 9 – Police in Iran plan to use smart technology in public places to identify and then penalise women who violate the country’s strict Islamic dress code, the force said on Saturday.


‘Divine timing’: Trump supporters see Jesus’ story in ex-president’s arrest (The Age, Melbourne)
Apr 6 – Washington: For the most devoted Trump conspiracy theorists, there are no coincidences and timing is everything.

Easter crucifixion re-enactments resume in Philippines after three-year Covid pause (The Guardian, Australia)
Apr 7 – At least 12 Filipinos are to be nailed to crosses to re-enact Jesus Christ’s suffering in a Good Friday tradition that is rejected by the Catholic church but draws huge crowds of devotees and tourists to the Philippines.

Murdoch’s change of heart: Was marriage called off over a religious or succession issue? (The Guardian, Australia)
Apr 9 – Rupert Murdoch’s summer wedding to Ann Lesley Smith was called off last week, barely two weeks after it had been announced, upon the arrival of spring, in the pages of the New York Post.


Working Muslim mums say going without food or drink not the hardest part of Ramadan fasting (ABC News)
Apr 6 – Inaz Janif understands firsthand the struggle for Muslim mums trying to juggle fasting with keeping a healthy work-life balance during the Islamic month of Ramadan.


I was told to marry into my own faith. My daughter will get to choose (Brisbane Times)
Apr 6 – (Opinion: Amra Pajalić) As an adolescent, my mother told me that if I married a person from another faith, she would disinherit me.

Andrew and Nicola Forrest lose bid to build irrigation project  (ABC News)
Apr 7 – A pastoral company owned by West Australian billionaires Andrew and Nicola Forrest has lost an appeal to build an irrigation project in a Pilbara river sacred to traditional owners.


Good Friday services held across Australia as church leaders share messages of love and faith (ABC News)
Apr 7 – Christian worshippers have flocked to church services across Australia to hear religious leaders mark Good Friday with messages of faith, hope and love.

Victorian faith leaders share their messages as Easter, Passover and Ramadan coincide (The Age, Melbourne)
Apr 7 – Peace, hope, love and freedom.

Off the hook: Good Friday gift finally understood (The Australian)
Apr 7 – (Opinion: Jack the Insider) Childhood memories of the traditional fish dinner – ‘smoked cod coated with a ghastly white sauce’ – serves up a powerful lesson on religious freedom.

Angry mobs still demand crucifixion and cancellation (The Australian)
Apr 7 – (Opinion: Anthony Fisher ) The outrage industry requires us all to be angry about something, all the time. Through social media angry mobs still demand crucifixion — or cancellation.

As we debate the Voice, I can’t think of a more profound meditation than affliction (ABC News)
Apr 9 – (Opinion: Stan Grant) This Holy Week I have sat with affliction.

Ministry of sound: The Melbourne church offering stadium-rock spirituality this Easter (The Age, Melbourne)
Apr 9 – Planetshakers is a church, but MTV-style.