Religion News Australia

Dec 17 – 31, 2023

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Peter Hollingworth: calls for former governor general’s pension to be removed after new findings (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 22 – Survivors have renewed calls for the former Australian governor general Peter Hollingworth’s lucrative pension to be stripped and redirected to survivors of abuse after two complaints of “serious neglect” related to his failure to act on knowledge of abuse were substantiated against him.


Disgraced religious leader sentenced to 23 years for sexual assaults of multiple followers
Dec 22 – A 78-year-old religious fringe leader accused of sexually assaulting multiple women including an Australian has just been sentenced to 23 years in prison.

Catholic Church

Vatican approves blessings for same-sex couples in landmark ruling for LGBTQ Catholics (ABC News)
Dec 19 – Roman Catholic priests will be able to bless same-sex couples, as long as the blessings are not part of regular Church rituals or liturgies, under a landmark ruling approved by Pope Francis.

Also: So Pope Francis has deigned to ‘bless’ gay couples? That’s not a blessing, it’s an insult (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 20 – (Opinion: Matt Cain) On the day I celebrated the first anniversary of my wedding, Pope Francis announced his “conditional approval” for Catholic priests to bless same-sex couples – under certain circumstances – although he was keen to add that these blessings should not be seen as validation of same-sex relationships.

The Guardian view on the pope’s reform project: the world’s largest Christian body needs to change (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 26 – (Opinion: editorial) After a difficult year in which he underwent surgery and suffered periodic illness, there was another flurry of concern in November over the health of Pope Francis, who turned 87 this month.


‘I’m not a toy’: how an antiquated tradition of forced marriage wrecked one girl’s life (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 19 – Despite a ban on ‘ghag’ forced marriages, a man laid claim to Inteha when she was 12 years old.


Rapper Ye, formerly Kanye West, apologises in Hebrew for anti-Jewish remarks (ABC News)
Dec 27 – The rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, has issued an apology in Hebrew to the Jewish community for his past anti-Semitic remarks, saying he sought forgiveness and regretted any pain that his words had caused.

Religious Violence

White South Carolina couple ‘harassed Black neighbors with burning cross’ (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 21 – The FBI has searched a house in South Carolina after a white couple allegedly put up a cross that faced their Black neighbors and set it on fire.

Ignorant activists make a profanity of joyous celebration (The Australian)
Dec 26 – (Opinion: Nick Cater) The profanities committed in Bethlehem and Melbourne on Christmas Eve were not the worst sacrilege driven by the dogma of Islamism against the imagined enemy of Christianity.


Ukraine’s Christmas snub for Moscow (The Australian)
Dec 26 – Ukrainian Orthodox Christians attended services on Sunday as the country for the first time celebrated Christmas on December 25, after the government changed the date from January 7 as a snub to Russia.

‘Sorrow and silence’ in Bethlehem as Christmas festivities are cancelled (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 26 – In the days leading up to Christmas, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, said that one particular Bible verse kept running through his mind.

Archbishop of Canterbury and pope focus on Gaza in Christmas messages (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 26 – The archbishop of Canterbury and the pope have used their Christmas addresses to show solidarity with Bethlehem and those caught up in the Israel-Gaza war.

Nativity-style statuettes found at Pompeii said to suggest pagan ritual (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 26 – Thirteen sculptures, which include human forms, appear to pay tribute to cult goddess Cybele and her tragic love, Attis

Christ the Redeemer dons Pelé jersey as Brazil honours first anniversary of the soccer star’s death (ABC News)
Dec 31 – The famous Rio statue of Christ the Redeemer has been lit up in a Pelé jersey as Brazil paid tribute to the soccer great on the first anniversary of his death.


Victorian Supreme Court grants Abdul Nacer Benbrika release on an extended supervision order (ABC News)
Dec 19 – Convicted Australian terrorist Abdul Nacer Benbrika has been released into the community after spending nearly two decades in prison.

Also: Lawyers mull challenges to terror orders as extremist freed (The Age, Melbourne)
Dec 19 – Lawyers are canvassing challenges to orders keeping extremists behind bars or under close police watch as the release of notorious Muslim cleric Abdul Nacer Benbrika from a Victorian prison on Tuesday prompted the NSW government to look at its own counter-terror regime.

Incendiary sermon defends attack on Israel (The Australian)
Dec 31 – A prominent southwest Sydney Imam addressed the deaths of two Australian citizens – one claimed by Hezbollah as a fighter – during Friday prayers.


We’re facing a debate as divisive as the Voice. Can we keep this one civil? (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 21 – (Opinion: Lisa Visentin) It has been little more than two months since the Voice referendum and the issue of Indigenous disadvantage has so comprehensively disappeared from the national agenda that it’s easy to forget that the 2023 political year was dominated by a highly vituperative and, at times, racialised debate.

‘Anti-Christian’: MP’s Qantas tirade (The Australian)
Dec 26 – Federal MP Bob Katter filed a written complaint against the airline for its music choice inside a business class lounge, while slamming former CEO Alan Joyce.


ABC sacks host over anti-Israel activism that enraged Buttrose (The Australian)
Dec 21 – A fill-in host for one of the ABC’s most coveted radio spots has been sacked after an influx of complaints from the Jewish community reached chairwoman Ita Buttrose.

Man ‘abused over Jewish headwear’ by Jetstar passenger (The Australian)
Dec 21 – A Sydney Jewish man who wore a traditional kippah on a Jetstar flight was met with a barrage of pro-Palestine vitriol from a fellow passenger as cases of anti-Semitism in Australia soar.

Khawaja facing fresh punishment over pro-Palestine protest (The Australian)
Dec 21 – Usman Khawaja is set to come under fresh scrutiny for his pro-Palestine protests during Australia’s first Test win over Pakistan in Perth, after a revealing admission from the ICC.

Renee beat the ‘kidney cult’ in court, but her own daughter testified against her
Dec 26 – In a courtroom in September, Renee Spencer’s daughter, Ellie, appeared via video link from Mexico to give evidence that her mother worshipped the devil.

Faith leaders pray for ‘love to conquer hate’ (The Australian)
Dec 26 – Religious leaders in Australia have used Christmas sermons to call for peace as the death toll from the Israel-Hamas war continues to rise.

New age ‘conspiritualism’ focus of research as young people turn away from traditional religion (ABC News)
Dec 30 – At a breezy bush camp in the Kimberley, Raquel Teixeira is gazing into a mirror seeking a moment of truth.

From ancient rituals to self-improvement, how new year’s resolutions have changed over 4,000 years (ABC News)
Dec 31 – Burying a toad in a pot was once a sure-fire way to guarantee a happy new year and a good harvest.