Religion News Australia

October 18 – 25, 2020

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Sex abuse royal commission finds Catholic church failed to act against Brisbane brother  (ABC News)
Oct 21 – Protocols at a Brisbane private school put in place after several complaints against a Marist brother in the 1990s were “inadequate and ineffective”, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has found.


This is the movie you’ve been waiting for – don’t miss it (Sydney Morning Herald)
Oct 21 – (Review)  With cinemas closed for months and production schedules disrupted around the world, it’s been a while since the choice of what movie to see has been so clear.

Film dramatises real-life story of juvenile delinquent who posed as a small-town priest (ABC News)
Oct 22 – (Review)  Loosely based on a celebrated real-life case that made headlines in Poland, this drama follows a juvenile delinquent who poses as a small-town priest.

Also: Sex, drugs and the priesthood (The Australian)
Oct 24 – (Review)  A new film shows what can happen when an interloper takes on a local Catholic church.

Confessions of an atheist writer: Charlotte Wood on Catholicism and the ‘art instinct’ (The Guardian, Australia)
Oct 25 – (Opinion: Charlotte Wood) One of my earliest memories is not a memory at all but a sensation, perhaps a kind of hunger: it is the taste of the wooden pew in the small church in which I spent every Sunday morning of my life from birth until high school.


Federal police refer allegations Vatican sent $1m to Australia in relation to George Pell trial to IBAC (ABC News)
Oct 21 – Federal police have referred information relating to allegations money was wired from the Vatican to Australia in relation to Cardinal George Pell’s trial to Victoria’s anti-corruption watchdog.

Victoria Police says it won’t investigate Vatican wire transfer claims (Sydney Morning Herald)
Oct 24 – London: Victoria Police says there is no evidence to warrant an investigation into allegations that Vatican funds were used in an attempt to secure the conviction of Cardinal George Pell.

Vatican cash trail is now a very real drama (The Australian)
Oct 24 – (Opinion: Dennis Shanahan) Pressure is mounting over mysterious cash transfers and allegations of attempts to meddle in the trial of George Pell.


Priests give up school control (The Australian)
Oct 21 – A large new company will take control of Catholic education in Melbourne in the wake of the sex abuse royal commission.


Revealed: ex-members of Amy Coney Barrett faith group tell of trauma and sexual abuse (The Guardian, Australia)
Oct 21 – Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the supreme court has prompted former members of her secretive faith group, the People of Praise, to come forward and share stories about emotional trauma and – in at least one case – sexual abuse they claim to have suffered at the hands of members of the Christian group.

Catholic Church

Pope Francis pushes new boundaries and expresses support for same-sex civil unions (ABC News)
Oct 22 – Pope Francis has broken with tradition in a new documentary released this week by expressing support for same-sex civil unions, in some of the clearest language he has used in relation to the rights of LGBTQ people.

Pope Francis calls for civil union laws for same-sex couples (Sydney Morning Herald)
Oct 22 – Rome: Pope Francis has endorsed same-sex civil unions for the first time as pope while being interviewed for the feature-length documentary, Francesco, in what amounts to his clearest support to date for the issue.

Victoria Police says it’s not investigating Vatican payments without evidence of ‘suspicious activity’ (ABC News)
Oct 24 – Victoria Police says it has received information about money transferred from the Vatican to Australia, but will not be investigating further as there was no evidence of suspicious activity.

The Pope and Pell: ‘One of the most fascinating relationships in Rome’ (The Guardian, Australia)
Oct 25 – (Opinion: Andrew West) Suddenly, it seems, George Pell is everywhere.

Religious Violence

Protesters march across France in tribute to teacher beheaded in suspected terrorist attack  (ABC News)
Oct 19 – Thousands of demonstrators have rallied across France in tribute to a history teacher beheaded near Paris after discussing caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Mohammed with his class.

Also: French police raids target beheading links in crackdown on extremists (Sydney Morning Herald)
Oct 20 – Paris: France has unleashed a broad crackdown on Muslims accused of extremism, carrying out dozens of raids, vowing to shut down aid groups and threatening to expel foreigners as anger swept the country following the decapitation of a high school teacher for showing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in class.

Also: French prosecutor says killer paid students to point out teacher before beheading (ABC News)
Oct 22 – The teenager who beheaded a teacher for showing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad in class paid students to identify him in front of the school, according to a French anti-terrorist public prosecutor.

Deadly suicide bombing at Kabul education centre kills civilians (Sydney Morning Herald)
Oct 25 – Kabul: A suicide bombing on Saturday at an education centre in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul killed at least 13 people and wounded dozens, officials said.

Afghan security forces kill senior al-Qaida leader (The Guardian, Australia)
Oct 25 – Afghan security forces have killed Abu Muhsin al-Masri, a senior al-Qaida leader who was on the FBI’s most-wanted list, Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) said in a tweet late on Saturday.


Hillsong and C3 started in Australia — and now they’re growing in popularity in Brazil (ABC News)
Oct 25 – Brazil is home to the world’s largest Catholic population, but the rise of Pentecostalism is drawing young Brazilians away from traditional pews, and toward charismatic, “club-like” mega-churches.

Thousands join Poland protests against strict abortion laws (The Guardian, Australia)
Oct 25 – Thousands of people marched in cities across Poland on Saturday in the third straight day of protests against a near-total ban on abortion, with some promising further action in the coming days.


Brisbane City Council to keep prayer before meetings (Brisbane Times)
Oct 20 – Brisbane City Council is expected to retain its traditional Christian prayer to open council chamber meetings, despite a petition calling for it to be scrapped.

I respect the churches: Palaszczuk (The Australian)
Oct 20 – The Premier has denied picking a fight with the churches on the contentious issue of euthanasia during the campaign.

‘All the right causes’: Miranda Devine and Coalition senators back extreme Queensland candidate (The Guardian, Australia)
Oct 21 – A Toowoomba doctor who advocates gay conversion therapy has been endorsed for Liberal National party preselection by a host of conservative figures, including sitting senators Matt Canavan and Eric Abetz, the former deputy prime minister John Anderson and the News Corp columnist Miranda Devine.

‘Christians are not victims’: church leader slams religious freedom bill (Sydney Morning Herald)
Oct 24 – The leader of a major church group says it is disingenuous to portray Australian Christians as victims of persecution in his criticism of a NSW religious freedom bill spurred by the Israel Folau controversy.

Archbishop deplores euthanasia law ‘rush’
Oct 25 – Brisbane’s Catholic Archbishop Mark Coleridge has ramped up his attack on the Palaszczuk government over euthanasia.


Churches, mosques allowed 300 worshippers as NSW records two local cases (Sydney Morning Herald)
Oct 21 – Groups of 300 people will be able to gather in churches, temples and mosques this weekend, in further eased COVID-19 restrictions following lobbying from the Hillsong mega church.

Teacher’s beheading a brutal reminder of dormant extremism (Brisbane Times)
Oct 21 – (Opinion: Chrales Hadji) Last Friday, Samuel Paty, a history and geography teacher at Conflans-Sainte-Honorine in the outskirts of Paris, was beheaded outside his school a few days after showing his students caricatures of Mohammed as part of a class on freedom of expression.

The Panthers star who wears his Bible inspiration on a mouthguard (Sydney Morning Herald)
Oct 22 – Stephen Crichton was so embarrassed by his performance in Penrith’s only loss this year he was inspired to have a Bible verse inscribed on his mouthguard and is now vowing not to waste his first grand final appearance.

New church limit does little to help worshippers (Sydney Morning Herald)
Oct 23 – (Opinion: Brian Houston) A crowd of 40,000 people is expected to gather at ANZ Stadium for the NRL grand final on Sunday evening. But a church service that morning will be limited to only 300 people.