Religion News Australia

March 8 – 15, 2020

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Former Trinity College Colac teacher jailed for child sexual abuse  (ABC News)
Mar 10  – The principal of a Catholic school in country Victoria has praised the “unbelievably courageous” child sexual abuse survivors who brought a former teacher to justice for his crimes.

George Pell’s appeal is before the High Court tomorrow. Here’s what might happen (ABC News)
Mar 10  – George Pell’s final bid for freedom at the High Court this week will be one of the most closely watched hearings in Australian legal history.

Also: The word is George Pell will walk free … but first the high court must have its say (The Guardian, Australia)
Mar 10 – (Opinion: David Marr) The word around the bars is: George Pell will walk free.

Also: George Pell’s appeal makes it to the High Court of Australia — and the world is awaiting its decision (ABC News)
Mar 11 – As the first day of George Pell’s appeal hearing closes in Canberra, all eyes — in Australia and overseas — are on the High Court as it decides the future of the former advisor to the Pope and most senior Catholic to be convicted of child sex offences.

Also: ‘Sheer unlikelihood in the sequence of events’ around Pell child abuse, High Court told (Sydney Morning Herald)
Mar 11 – The case of George Pell, now before Australia’s highest court, has returned to the problem that has plagued this extraordinary legal saga in the five years since a former choirboy first told his story to police – when exactly, could the alleged abuse have taken place?

Also: Defining factor in Pell’s appeal (The Australian)
Mar 11 – What the Cardinal habitually did after mass has become the focus in today’s High Court hearing.

Also: High Court reserves decision on whether to overturn George Pell’s convictions for child sexual abuse (ABC News)
Mar 11 – After two days of dense legal argument, the High Court of Australia has reserved its decision on whether it will overturn Cardinal George Pell’s convictions for child sexual abuse.

Also:  Verdict on George Pell’s appeal delayed (
Mar 11 – The High Court has delayed the decision on George Pell’s appeal against child sex abuse convictions, with a decision not expected for months.

Also: ‘Portelli is key’: Court told cleric could cast doubt on Pell verdict (The Age, Melbourne)
Mar 11 – Prosecutors have conceded that the testimony of a senior church figure who accompanied George Pell when he presided over Sunday mass could raise a reasonable doubt about whether the former Melbourne archbishop sexually assaulted two choirboys.

Also: Key Pell time ‘may have been longer’ (The Australian)
Mar 11 – The High Court will weigh whether to acquit George Pell of child sex abuse after the prosecution shifted position on key evidence.

Also: George Pell: high court reserves decision on granting special leave for an appeal (The Guardian, Australia)
Mar 11 – The full bench of the high court in Canberra has reserved its decision about whether to grant Cardinal George Pell special leave to appeal his case for a final time, after listening to two days of arguments from his barrister and the prosecution.

Also: Pell times were not exact, says DPP (The Australian)
Mar 13  – The High Court will consider acquittin­g George Pell of sexual abuse as the prosecution changed its time­frame for the assaults.

Court orders record payment against Christian Brothers for historic child sex abuse crimes (ABC News)
Mar 11  – An elderly man who was subjected to “degrading” and “humiliating” sexual abuse by Christian Brothers in West Australian orphanages has been awarded more than $1.3 million in damages in what has been described as a “landmark” decision.

Also: ‘I’m just glad I told my story’: WA man awarded $1.3m over Christian Brothers abuse (
Mar 11  – An elderly man has labelled the Christian Brothers “a disgusting mob” after being awarded more than $1.3 million in a landmark case over horrific child sex abuse he suffered under their care as an orphan in Western Australia.

WA bishop steps down amid sex abuse report (
Mar 11  – A West Australian Catholic bishop has stood down amid reports he sexually abused two young men.

Also: Broome bishop Christopher Saunders stands down over serious allegations (
Mar 11 – One of Australia’s highest-ranking Catholics has voluntarily stood aside amid serious allegations.


Hijabi hits the funny bone (The Australian)
Mar 13  – Sakdiyah Ma’ruf is making waves in the stand-up scene, smashing stereotypes with a unique brand of comedy.

Religious Violence

The Christchurch attack traumatised us, but we are determined to be happy (The Guardian, Australia)
Mar 10 – (Opinion: Maysoon Salama) At the childcare centre my husband and I run in Christchurch, most of the children would have had somebody in their family who was injured during the attack or knew somebody who was injured.

Far-right extremists still threaten New Zealand, almost one year on from the Christchurch attacks (ABC News)
Mar 11 – (Opinion: Paul Spoonley) In the hours after the Christchurch mosque attacks on March 15 last year, I wrote that I hoped New Zealand would finally stop believing it was immune to far-right extremist violence.

‘I faced my fear’: Mosque massacre survivor a year on (Sydney Morning Herald)
Mar 12  – Christchurch: When the gunman walked into the Al Noor mosque, Temel Atacocugu was kneeling for Friday prayers.

‘They are all with God in heaven’ (The Australian)
Mar 13  – A year after the Christchurch terror attacks, and even the Imam still gets flashbacks of the day an evil monster murdered his flock.

Jinwar, the Middle East’s first feminist commune for Arab, Kurdish, and Yazidi victims of Islamic State (ABC News)
Mar 13  – Coming to Jinwar in northern Syria was Bedra Darwish’s “only chance to have a better life”.

Awaiting trial, the Christchurch attacker inspires a new global hatred (Sydney Morning Herald)
Mar 15  – A year after the Christchurch massacre Brenton Tarrant, whose trial for the atrocity starts this May, remains a “revered” figure among hate groups and an inspiration to right-wing terrorists, says the online security analyst Rita Katz, director of the SITE Intelligence Group in Washington, DC.

Finding light in the long shadow of the Christchurch attack (The Age, Melbourne)
Mar 15  – To this day Abdul Aziz Wahabzada does not know the name of the man who attacked Christchurch’s mosques a year ago.


Coronavirus: Infected priest exposed hundreds of worshippers to the virus (
Mar 10  – A priest who spent several days shaking the hands of hundreds of worshippers in a US church has tested positive for coronavirus.

‘My life is not over. But it feels like it is sometimes’: the Rev Richard Coles on losing his partner (The Guardian, Australia)
Mar 10  – Death is par for the course for the Rev Richard Coles.


Australian FBI suspect admits to role with Islamic State after capture in Syria (ABC News)
Mar 12  – A Sydney man wanted by the FBI over accusations he helped young Americans join Islamic State has confessed to Turkish authorities that he worked for the group as a translator and communications official, the ABC can reveal.

Legal Aid says no to funding mosque-bombing terror trio’s appeals (The Age, Melbourne)
Mar 13  – Three terrorists who were jailed for firebombing a Melbourne mosque might not have their appeals heard unless Victoria Legal Aid reverses a decision to not fund their cases.

One year after Christchurch we seek solace in community and being unapologetically Muslim (The Guardian, Australia)
Mar 13 – (Opinion: Sara Mansour) The scars of the Christchurch massacre linger.

Here’s a radical idea (The Australian)
Mar 14 – (Opinion: Bernard Salt ) How about a fair go for all – including the families of Australian ISIS fighters.


Keep ‘Folau clause’ out of religion bill: lawyers (The Australian)
Mar 10  – MinterEllison and Maurice Blackburn join a broad coalition expressing dislike for second draft of the act.

Gun club and church with Liberal links awarded $40,000 in federal grants (The Guardian, Australia)
Mar 10  – Tens of thousands of dollars in grant money was handed to a gun club and a church with links to federal government MPs.

Morrison government quietly mothballs laws to protect gay students and teachers (Brisbane Times)
Mar 15  – The Morrison government has quietly mothballed an inquiry which would have paved the way for long-promised laws to protect gay students and teachers from being expelled or sacked from religious schools.


Australian migrants share the challenges of intercultural marriages (ABC News)
Mar 13  – Matisse Yee still remembers how excited she was to tell her parents she had finally “met someone”, and then immediately adding the disclosure “but he’s not Chinese”.