Religion News Australia

May 3 – 10, 2020

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



‘I’m not a used car salesman’: Can the archbishop chart a new course? (The Age, Melbourne)
May 10  – It’s August 2018, and Peter Comensoli is standing on a stage in a packed city restaurant, daring to do something none of his predecessors have ever done: subject himself to the scrutiny of the Melbourne Press Club.

ABUSE – Royal Commission findings about Pell

Cardinal George Pell: complete royal commission findings to be released within days (The Guardian, Australia)
May 5  – A royal commission’s findings about Cardinal George Pell’s knowledge of historical child sexual abuse complaints will be released within days.

George Pell should have done more to remove paedophile priest, royal commission finds (ABC News)
May 7 – Cardinal George Pell was aware of abuse being committed by clergy as early as the 1970s, and on two occasions did not take action to remove paedophile priests, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has found.

Pell knew in 1982 that Ridsdale was being moved to keep lid on scandal (Sydney Morning Herald)
May 7 – Cardinal George Pell knew nearly 40 years ago that notorious paedophile priest Gerard Ridsdale was being moved out of a small, Victorian country parish to protect the Catholic Church from scandal, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has found.

Inquiry finds Pell failed to act on complaints about Melbourne priests (The Age, Melbourne)
May 7  – George Pell failed to act on and investigate complaints of sexual assault against two Melbourne priests, and was probably at meetings where allegations against another four clerics were discussed.

Royal commission’s key findings on Pell (The Age, Melbourne)
May 7 – The unredacted pages of the child abuse royal commission’s reports reveal Cardinal George Pell turned a blind eye to paedophile priests, including Australia’s worst paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale, and was “conscious” of the abuse nearly 50 years ago.

Royal commission finds Pell ‘conscious’ of priests abusing children in early ’70s (The Age, Melbourne)
May 7 – Cardinal George Pell was “conscious of child sexual abuse by clergy” as early as 1973 and failed to act on complaints about priests, according to royal commission findings released for the first time.

Cardinal ‘not alone in hiding secrets’ (The Australian)
May 7 – Victims advocate Chrissie Foster hails the unredacted version of the royal commission report, saying it shows George Pell was part of a cover-up.

‘I should have done more’: Pell told commission (The Australian)
May 7 – Unredacted royal commission chapters show the inquiry rejected some of George Pell’s evidence relating to three criminal clergymen.

Cardinal George Pell: Victoria police to assess unredacted royal commission findings (The Guardian, Australia)
May 7 – Victoria police will receive a copy of the unredacted child abuse royal commission report findings relating to Cardinal George Pell.

Catholic Church has a chance to show it can reform (The Age, Melbourne)
May 7  – (Opinion: Editorial) The cases of child abuse by Catholic clergy that have come to light over the past few decades have been damaging to the church, not just because of the horror of the individual crimes but because of what they said about the church’s higher echelons.

History will not be kind to George Pell, as royal commission reveals its secret findings (ABC News)
May 8 – (Opinion: Louise Milligan) For more than 1,400 days, they waited. Little kids but now grown up, the childhoods they’d left behind stained by trauma.

Cardinal Pell: a legacy of shame and failure (The Age, Melbourne)
May 8 – (Opinion: Barney Zwartz) It may be possible – remotely – as Cardinal George Pell claims, that he did not know about the crimes of paedophile Gerald Ridsdale until much later than the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse thinks he did.

Catholic Church’s legal deluge compounded by damning Pell findings (Sydney Morning Herald)
May 9  – The Catholic Church is facing hundreds of civil claims by victims of clerical sex abuse, bolstered by the royal commission’s findings about Cardinal George Pell’s role in the “catastrophic failure of leadership” in the Ballarat diocese.

Can Rome stand by its man? (The Australian)
May 9 – (Opinion: John Ferguson) Unredacted royal commission findings will hurt George Pell.

‘Why didn’t he help those little boys?’: how George Pell failed the children of Ballarat (The Guardian, Australia)
May 9 – (Opinion: Melissa Davey) “Why isn’t all of Australia talking about what happened here in Ballarat?” That’s the question Clare Linane remembers asking her husband, Peter Blenkiron, 12 years ago as they were sitting in the kitchen talking about his abuse.

Why George Pell likely won’t face charges over royal commission findings (ABC News)
May 10  – After a two-year wait, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse has released its findings on what Cardinal George Pell knew about clergy abuse.

Cardinal truths (The Saturday Paper)
May 10  – (Opinion: Editorial) He knew. When he walked into Melbourne Magistrates’ Court in 1993 beside Gerald Ridsdale, a man facing dozens of counts of indecent assault against boys, George Pell knew the priest had been abusing children in the church.


Fraudster jailed for stealing $340,000 from Catholic Church to fund ‘indulgent’ lifestyle (ABC News)
May 5  – Adelaide mother Kerry Ann Keen used more than $340,000 that she stole from the Catholic Church to pay for expensive overseas holidays and indulgent consumer goods.

Solitude nothing new for nuns of Launceston’s Carmelite Monastery (ABC News)
May 6  – Having joined the sisterhood 22 years ago, Tasmanian nun Mother Teresa Benedicta knows a thing or two about isolation — although she prefers the terms “solitude” or “retreat”.

Religious Violence

Afghanistan fears coronavirus may be more deadly than violence after 18 years of civil war (ABC News)
May 10  – Afghanistan is particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 after decades of war smashed the country’s health systems and now millions of migrant workers are returning from Iran to all provinces in the country.


‘You’re not alone. I am with you’: the chaplains tending to those dying from Covid-19 (The Guardian, Australia)
May 6  – In his five years as a hospital chaplain, the Rev Steven Chewning has anointed the sick more times than he can remember.

Sick Souls, Healthy Minds by John Kaag review – can William James save your life? (The Guardian, Australia)
May 7  – (Review)  From Plato to Heidegger, philosophers have taken a dim view of the common people.


Concerns over church in Australia selling bleach which its US leader claims can cure coronavirus (ABC News)
May 5  – The Australian chapter of an international church that peddles bleach as a cure for coronavirus is selling the product locally.

Also: Australian ‘healing church’ defends bleach sales after US coronavirus cure claims (The Guardian, Australia)
May 6 – Representatives of an international group that calls itself a “healing church” and promotes industrial bleach as a cure for coronavirus say they should be allowed to continue selling the potentially toxic “miracle” solution in Australia on religious freedom grounds.

The real Lord of the Flies: what happened when six boys were shipwrecked for 15 months (The Guardian, Australia)
May 10  – For centuries western culture has been permeated by the idea that humans are selfish creatures.