Religion News Australia

April 5 – 12, 2020

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)


ABUSE – George Pell release

George Pell wins High Court appeal against child sex abuse convictions (ABC News)
April 7  – Cardinal George Pell will be released from prison after the country’s highest court quashed his child sexual abuse convictions.

Pell to walk free after High Court overturns conviction (Sydney Morning Herald)
April 7 – Cardinal George Pell will be freed from jail after the High Court overturned his conviction for historic child sex offences.

George Pell High Court decision: Full copy of judgment summary (The Age, Melbourne)
April 7  – Today, the High Court granted special leave to appeal against a decision of the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Victoria and unanimously allowed the appeal.

The reasons why George Pell’s convictions were quashed (
April 7  – George Pell will be released from prison today after Australia’s highest court overturned his conviction for sexually abusing two choir boys.

Pell release ‘devastates’ abuse survivors (
April 7 – Child sexual abuse survivors will be devastated that the High Court has overturned Cardinal George Pell’s convictions, advocates say.

‘The greatest miscarriage of justice’: Andrew Bolt responds to George Pell verdict (
April 7 – Outspoken columnist Andrew Bolt has labelled the case against Cardinal George Pell as “the greatest miscarriage of justice in Australian history”.

George Pell appeal: Cardinal to keep church titles, OAM
April 7 – Cardinal George Pell is widely expected to keep his various titles following his successful High Court appeal against child sexual abuse convictions.

Critics can’t run from High Court’s bullet (The Australian)
April 7 – (Opinion: John Ferguson) The controversy surrounding George Pell will likely never end.

Decision ‘shows Pell wrongly imprisoned’ (The Australian)
April 7 – Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli says George Pell should now be free to ‘live his life peacably within the community.’

George Pell: Australian cardinal to be released from jail after high court quashes abuse conviction (The Guardian, Australia)
April 7 – Cardinal George Pell, the former financial controller of the Vatican and the most senior Catholic in the world to have been found guilty of historical child sexual abuse, will be freed from prison and have his convictions overturned following a two-year legal battle.

High Court corrects an injustice but raises some difficult questions (The Age, Melbourne)
April 7  – The High Court regularly delves into arcane recesses of the law.

Cardinal George Pell free from jail, but not from scrutiny (The Age, Melbourne)
April 7 – George Pell has spent his first night of freedom in a Melbourne monastery after the High Court ordered his immediate release from jail in one of Australia’s most contentious cases.

George Pell’s successful appeal hinged on the tricky question of witnesses (ABC News)
April 8  – (Opinion: Mirko Bagaric) Cardinal George Pell had a win in the High Court yesterday, but it would be regrettable if the outcome of the case made it less likely that victims of sexual abuse will report offences against them.

Why was George Pell’s appeal successful when our justice system values jury verdicts? (ABC News)
April 8 – (Opinion: Rick Sarre) The High Court today quashed the conviction of Cardinal George Pell, who had originally been found guilty on a number of charges by a jury of 12 people.

Witness J, former choirboy who accused George Pell, says case ‘does not define me’ (ABC News)
April 8 – The former choirboy who accused George Pell of abusing him in the 1990s says he hopes the High Court’s unanimous acquittal of the Cardinal does not discourage survivors from reporting abuse.

How George Pell’s lawyers convinced the High Court that his convictions should be quashed (ABC News)
April 8  – The George Pell case was always going to be a flashpoint.

George Pell’s successful appeal was a clear result in a case that cut the nation to the core (ABC News)
April 8 – (Opinion: Noel Debien) “I hold no ill will toward my accuser, I do not want my acquittal to add to the hurt and bitterness so many feel; there is certainly hurt and bitterness enough.”

‘I am OK’: Pell’s accuser accepts High Court decision (Sydney Morning Herald)
April 8  – George Pell’s accuser has accepted the High Court’s decision to quash child sex abuse convictions against the Cardinal and reassured his supporters: “I am OK”.

Pell has found justice but his remaining days won’t be peaceful (Sydney Morning Herald)
April 8 – (Opinion: Barney Zwartz) Only two living people in the world really can be certain of what happened in the sacristy of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne on that fateful day in 1996.

Pell acquittal puts Victorian courts on trial, and shows they need a reality check (Sydney Morning Herald)
April 8 – (Opinion: Jon Faine) The High Court decision to allow the appeal of Cardinal George Pell will send shivers through the entire Australian criminal justice system.

George Pell’s child sex abuse convictions quashed as advocates mourn (
April 8  – As child sex abuse advocates mourn the release of George Pell, one woman sent the cardinal a very direct message.

Cathedral vandalised as Pell leaves monastery (The Australian)
April 8  – Graphic messages have been graffitied onto St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne and items placed outside the monastery George Pell has been staying.

Jones, Bolt, Hadley in nasty Pell feud (The Australian)
April 8  – A slanging match between the broadcasters has escalated in the wake of George Pell’s successful High Court win.

‘I am not the abuse I suffered as a child’ (The Australian)
April 8  – The complainant in the Pell case accepts the decision saying he understood the view there was a lack of evidence.

Pell case became mired in church’s sins (The Australian)
April 8 – (Opinion: Paul Kelly ) The High Court’s decision concludes one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in Australian history.

Case against Pell misguided and vile (The Australian)
April 8 – (Opinion: Greg Craven ) The High Court was absolutely right to free a needlessly persecuted and innocent man on grounds of reasonable doubt.

Pell’s acquittal revives reasonable doubt (The Australian)
April 8 – (Opinion: Editorial) Decision asks serious questions of Victoria’s legal processes.

Heaven is beyond my reach (The Australian)
April 8 – (Opinion: Graham Richardson ) The champagne corks are popping in the Vatican. George Pell has been found not guilty by Australia’s highest court.

George Pell’s accuser issues rallying cry to sexual abuse survivors in wake of verdict (The Guardian, Australia)
April 8  – The man at the heart of the failed case against Cardinal George Pell has issued a rallying cry to sexual abuse survivors.

This is a mighty triumph for George Pell. Now prepare for a storm of rage from supporters (The Guardian, Australia)
April 8 – (Opinion: David Marr) This is a mighty triumph not just for George Pell who is breathing free air for the first time in a year, and his backers who invested millions in his defence, but for the narrative of prejudice the church has spun all the years since the Melbourne police came for the cardinal in Rome.

ABC backs its reporting on George Pell after Andrew Bolt accuses it of a witch-hunt (The Guardian, Australia)
April 8  – The ABC has backed its journalists and its reporting on George Pell after the cardinal’s release from jail prompted a spate of attacks on the national broadcaster by Pell supporters.

At a servo on the road to Sydney, Pell says he’s ‘very pleased’ to be free (Brisbane Times)
April 8  – Cardinal George Pell is on his way to Sydney a day after he was freed from jail following the High Court’s decision to quash his convictions for child-sex offences.

Daniel Andrews asks PM to reveal redacted Pell report in full (The Age, Melbourne)
April 8  – Premier Daniel Andrews has asked Prime Minister Scott Morrison to quickly release secret sections of a report on the historical conduct of Cardinal George Pell, in the wake of the senior Catholic’s acquittal on child sex abuse charges.

George Pell says inmates of Barwon jail cheered when acquittal was handed down (ABC News)
April 9  – Cardinal George Pell has revealed his fellow inmates cheered for him when he was acquitted of child sex abuse convictions by the High Court this week.

Child sexual abuse victims should not be put off by George Pell decision, experts say (The Guardian, Australia)
April 9 – Victims of child sexual abuse should not be dissuaded from coming forward and reporting perpetrators as a result of the jury conviction of Cardinal George Pell being overturned by the high court, a barrister and professor of law at La Trobe University in Melbourne says.

Libs say police and prosecutors ‘owe community an explanation’ on Pell (The Age, Melbourne)
April 9 – The opposition is putting pressure on Victoria’s police, prosecutors and courts to publicly explain the decisions that led to the conviction of Cardinal George Pell.

Don’t accept sanitised history of clerical abuse (The Australian)
April 10 – (Opinion: Jack the Insider ) Failed pursuit of Pell overshadows ugly history of clerical child sex offending, police collaboration.

Minister hits back at critics over Pell case (The Australian)
April 10  – Victoria’s Police Minister defends her state’s legal system and police force.

The Pell reckoning: Ray Hadley challenges Andrew Bolt to take it outside (The Guardian, Australia)
April 10 – (Opinion: Amanda Meade) Shock jocks Andrew Bolt, Ray Hadley and Alan Jones brawled openly on air this week after Bolt demanded an apology from Hadley for calling him “soft on paedophiles” now that George Pell has had his conviction quashed.

Why the ABC’s reporting of the George Pell case wasn’t a witch-hunt (ABC News)
April 10 – (Opinion: Craig McMurtrie) From the first trial that resulted in a hung jury, to a sweeping suppression order that set the national media and the courts on a collision course, the Pell case has polarised and transfixed the nation, and in light of the High Court ruling there is now opportunity for reflection.

Pell verdict is not the death of juries, but he should have been tried by a judge alone (Brisbane Times)
April 10 – (Opinion: Greg Barnes) The High Court’s decision in the case of George Pell has evoked a deeply emotional response in the community.

Pell’s acquittal ignites media and publishing firestorm (Sydney Morning Herald)
April 11  – All eyes will be on Cardinal George Pell’s first exclusive interview fresh from Barwon prison with his most ardent of supporters, conservative commentator Andrew Bolt.

Church confronts altered landscape after the trials of George Pell (The Age, Melbourne)
April 11 – (Opinion: Chip Le Grand) Two days after George Pell was sentenced for child sex offences, Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli spoke of the seismic forces which had shaken his city and the church.

Cardinal George Pell: ‘Why did this happen to me?’ (
April 11  – Cardinal George Pell has delivered an Easter message while asking why he suffered going to jail for a crime he didn’t commit.

Life with darkness in the mirror (The Australian)
April 11 – (Opinion: David Brearley) This Pell thing is so painful. You understand the High Court’s reasons and you try to accept its decision, but but it brings back memories of something you’ll never escape.

Pell’s sad saga of suffering (The Australian)
April 11 – (Opinion: Frank Brennan) From the start, the problem with the case against Cardinal George Pell was the way in which it was handled by the police.

Twisted passion of the anti-Catholics (The Australian)
April 11 – (Opinion: Brendan O’Neill) Much of the discussion around Pell was not concerned with facts or reason but, rather, an old, repugnant idea.

A travesty of justice au
April 11 – (Opinion: Paul Kelly ) The Pell debacle finds several institutions, including Victoria’s justice system and parts of the media, guilty of wilful failure.

Fairness trampled by social media mob (The Australian)
April 11 – (Opinion: Gerard Henderson ) George Pell was the victim of a campaign to paint him as a predatory monster.

Pell told to take time on compo (The Australian)
April 11  – Supporters of George Pell will encourage him to seek redress for his 405-day jail ordeal and leave open the option to sue for libel.

Cardinal George Pell writes about suffering, jail and coronavirus in News Corp piece (The Guardian, Australia)
April 11  – Cardinal George Pell has used an Easter opinion piece to argue “God-fearers” are better able to deal with evil and suffering than atheists, pointing to his own experience of “13 months in jail for a crime I didn’t commit”.

ABUSE – Other

Face up to how abusers were helped: Andrews (The Australian)
April 8  – Daniel Andrews urges fellow Catholics to accept the fact that predators were moved around working class parishes for decades.


A bleak Easter in the bluestone churches of Victoria’s oldest town (The Age, Melbourne)
April 10  – On Easter Sunday, the holiest day of the Christian calendar, a deacon will unlock the door of St Stephen’s, Victoria’s oldest Anglican church, step inside, lock the door behind him and, alone, perform a 10 o’clock morning prayer service.


Netflix series Unorthodox is bringing the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community into the mainstream (ABC News)
April 10  – Unorthodox is a four-part German-American miniseries and Netflix’s first offering to be told primarily in Yiddish.


How do you become, formally, not-a-Catholic? You take the law into your own hands (The Guardian, Australia)
April 11 – (Opinion: Sebastian Tesoriero) The church has tried to make it so it can’t be divorced. Yet people do want to leave. In droves

Catholic Church

Coronavirus keeps worshippers away, Pope Francis delivers mass in empty St Peter’s Basilica (ABC News)
April 6  – Pope Francis has celebrated Palm Sunday mass in the shelter of St Peter’s Basilica without the public because of the coronavirus pandemic, while parish priests elsewhere in Rome took to church rooftops and bell towers to lead services.

Vatican ‘welcomes’ overturning of George Pell’s conviction, Pope tweets cryptic message (ABC News)
April 8  – For the Vatican it’s a victory.

Pope rails against ‘unjust sentences’ (The Australian)
April 8  – Pope Francis has decried the persecution of ‘innocent’ people, hours after Cardinal George Pell walked free from prison.

Popemobile puts brakes on Easter parade (The Australian)
April 10  – An attempt to raise spirits in Venezuela backfired after a Popemobile used by John Paul II broke down.

Pope Francis and Queen share Easter messages of hope in ‘darkest hour’ (Sydney Morning Herald)
April 12  – Vatican City: Pope Francis and the Queen have shared Easter messages of hope amid what the Pope described as “our darkest hour” from a nearly empty St Peter’s Basilica.

Also: Easter gives hope in darkest hour: Pope (The Australian)
April 12  – In a nearly empty St Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis likens fears of current times to those felt by Jesus, as Christians adjust to a very different Easter.


New British Labor leader vows to stamp out anti-Semitism (The Australian)
April 6  – The new leader of British Labour, Keir Starmer, has apologised to the Jewish community for anti-Semitism in the party’s ranks.


Benedictine nuns release Gregorian chants to help ease coronavirus isolation (The Guardian, Australia)
April 9  – A monastery of Benedictine nuns living in seclusion in southern France has opened its doors to allow recordings of its Gregorian chants to be made available to the outside world.

Leap of faith: ancient Britons viewed hares and chickens as gods (The Guardian, Australia)
April 10  – Brown hares and chickens were revered as gods rather than reared for food when they were first introduced to Britain in the iron age, archaeological analysis suggests.

A Muslim family holds the keys to one of Christianity’s holiest sites, but this Easter it’s been closed  (ABC News)
April 12  – For Christians of all denominations, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is one of the world’s most sacred sites, and yet each morning it’s opened by a Palestinian Muslim man.

Easter is a time to connect. So even in isolation, let’s cherish the ties that bind (The Guardian, Australia)
April 12 – (Opinion: Nicci Gerrard) Yesterday, I had a conversation with the delivery driver, who I must have seen many times before but have never really talked to.


Extremist snubbed anti-jihad program (The Australian)
April 6  – A Muslim extremist with an extensive terrorist network has been freed from jail after refusing a deradicalisation program.

‘They mocked the niqab. Now they do same’ (The Australian)
April 7 – (Opinion: Steven Stalinsky) Jihadists are gloating over the health restrictions enacted across the world, with many cheering the virus on.

For these women, religion is an everyday part of work — and they wouldn’t change it (ABC News)
April 10  – No matter which aged care organisation Jihan Lazki works in, as a physiotherapist she’s doing the same thing.


Coronavirus keeping you away from church?  (ABC News)
April 10  – The Easter season is a time of year when people get together.

Police raid ultra-Orthodox prayer group above store in Ripponlea (The Age, Melbourne)
April 10  – Police raided an ultra-Orthodox Jewish prayer group in Melbourne’s inner-east on Thursday morning where a group of at least 10 men were praying in contravention of social-distancing rules.

Pell talks of suffering in Easter message (Sydney Morning Herald)
April 11  – In his Easter message, Cardinal George Pell has asked why there is so much suffering in the world.

Easter in the age of COVID-19: no egg hunts but a yearning for rebirth (Sydney Morning Herald)
April 11 – (Opinion: Thomas Keneally) First, and one hopes last, Easter of the COVID-19 contagion.

Easter offers solace for us all (The Australian)
April 11 – (Opinion: Greg Sheridan ) A spirit of divine love and humanity resonates in the age of COVID-19.

The changing face of religious traditions this Easter under the pall of coronavirus (ABC News)
April 11 – As Christians celebrate the Easter weekend via streaming services from empty churches, many other faiths are also having to change their religious celebration.

Coronavirus has left us confused but the Easter Saturday story is a template for the way forward (ABC News)
April 12 – (Opinion: Natasha Moore) Good preparation for 2020: Pickling.

Pastor promotes ‘dinner on the driveway’ events to help people feel connected during COVID-19  (ABC News)
April 12  – In a bid to lift people’s spirits and help them still feel connected despite advice to ‘stay home’, a pastor in regional New South Wales has started ‘dinner on the driveway’ events.

Virtual congregations gather for Easter services (Sydney Morning Herald)
April 12  – A fire lit up the darkness inside Christ Church St Laurence in Sydney’s CBD on Easter Sunday to symbolise the light of Christ.

The global crisis hammers home this truth: people matter more than religion (The Guardian, Australia)
April 12 – (Opinion: Brad Chilcott) Ideologies and institutions that do not retain the wellbeing of others as their driving principle will always end up harming people and eroding the common good.