Religion News Australia

August 20 – 27, 2023

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Malka Leifer: former ultra-Orthodox Jewish principal sentenced to 15 years for child sex abuse (The Guardian, Australia)
August 24 – Ultra-Orthodox Jewish principal Malka Leifer will spend up to 15 years behind bars for the sexual abuse of two young high school students.

Also: A tear stains Leifer’s cheek as she is sentenced to 15 years for child sex abuse (Sydney Morning Herald)
August 24 – A decades-long fight to bring justice to the victims of Malka Leifer has ended with the former principal of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish school in Melbourne sentenced to 15 years in prison for sexually abusing and raping two former students in her care.

Catholic Church loses bid to restrict family’s lawsuit against Pell and church (The Age, Melbourne)
August 25 – The Catholic Church has lost a bid to restrict the family members of victims of child abuse by clergy from bringing civil cases against the institution.

Reforms needed after ‘horrendous’ Catholic church approach in paedophile priest cases, lawyers say (The Guardian, Australia)
August 25 – Lawyers for two Indigenous abuse survivors have called for reforms to address the “horrendous” Catholic church strategy of seeking to permanently block cases where alleged paedophile priests have died.


Schools force Anglican backdown on statement opposing same-sex marriage (Sydney Morning Herald)
August 27 – Principals at Sydney’s Anglican schools will no longer be forced to sign a document affirming they believe marriage should only be between a man and a woman under a new proposal by the church that is set to abolish the controversial requirement.


‘I love that joke’: David Baddiel’s rules for breaking a taboo for laughs (Sydney Morning Herald)
August 25 – When I ask Jewish British comedian David Baddiel a question about the nature of comedy, he responds with a Holocaust joke.

Catholic Church

Catholic school system directs students to use pronouns assigned at birth (Sydney Morning Herald)
August 21 – Boston: A Catholic school system in the US state of Massachusetts has issued a new policy that orders students to use their names and pronouns assigned at birth and to conduct themselves in a manner “consistent with their biological sex,” drawing criticism in the latest clash between religious leaders and proponents of gender and sexual fluidity.

The ‘false prophet’ v the pope: Argentina faces clash of ideologies in election (The Guardian, Australia)
August 27 – In one corner of the ring stands Javier Milei, 52, self-described former tantric sex coach, outsider anarcho-capitalist and frontrunner in Argentina’s upcoming presidential elections; in the other, his compatriot Pope Francis, 86, world champion of the poor, repeatedly derided by Argentina’s likely next president as “a fucking communist” and “the representative of the evil one on Earth” for promoting the doctrine of “social justice” to aid the underprivileged.


Supermodel Bella Hadid called an ‘Israel hater’ by far-right, pro-settler minister (The Guardian, Australia)
August 26 – The far-right Israeli national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, has called the Palestinian American supermodel Bella Hadid an “Israel hater” after she joined denunciations of his claim that Jewish settlers have more rights than Arabs in the occupied territories.


Pastor leads churchgoers with machetes to remove gang, who open fire (Sydney Morning Herald)
August 27 – Port-au-Prince: A powerful gang opened fire on a large group of churchgoers led by a pastor as they marched through a community armed with machetes to rid the area of gang members on Saturday.


Unwise to link Jewish traditions to support for voice (The Australian)
August 25 – (Opinion: Henry Ergas) Anathematisation of the No campaign as ‘sabotage’ starkly contradicts the Jewish tradition, because there are few traditions, religious or secular, that are as tolerant of disagreement.


Gathering of the Goddesses goes bad as performers, attendees cry foul over ’empowerment’ festival (ABC News)
August 21 – A festival company which ran events promoted as “empowering women” is being pursued by workers who say they have not been paid and attendees who say the three-day “The Gathering of The Goddesses” was far from what was advertised.

Why the COVID-19 pandemic made some Australians ditch religion and others turn towards it (ABC News)
August 22 – COVID-19 has changed the way we connect to the world around us.

Losing our religion: Inside the plan to future-proof Sydney’s faith (Sydney Morning Herald)
August 24 – In many parts of modern-day Sydney, churches are an anachronism – the sandstone relic on the hill.

Bendigo couple restores 159-year-old family bible, finds owner’s descendant i (ABC News)
August 25 – Nicole Penrose struggles to articulate how special it is to hold a 159-year-old bible once owned by her great-great grandfather James.

The world is burning. Who can convince the comfortable classes of the radical sacrifices needed? (The Guardian, Australia)
August 26 – (Opinion: Justine Toh) Simone Weil’s life illustrates the capacity to give up the things we feel we’re owed – such as a carbon-intensive consumer-driven lifestyle.