Religion News Australia

November 29 – December 6, 2020

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)




Accused sex abuser Malka Leifer faces wait on extradition appeal verdict (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 4 – Accused paedophile Malka Leifer will have to wait until next week for a decision on her appeal against extradition to Australia to face charges of sex abuse.


Church punches below the belt then knocks out its fighting priest (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 5 – (Opinion: Elizabeth Farrelly) For most of us, a marriage breakdown is quite bad enough.


Inner-city Catholic girls’ school St Aloysius to accept boys from 2023 (The Age, Melbourne)
Dec 2 – Catholic girls’ school St Aloysius College will begin to enrol boys from 2023, becoming co-educational after more than 130 years of educating girls in North Melbourne.

Leading private girls’ school in damage control over staff exodus (The Age, Melbourne)
Dec 3 – Dozens of teachers at one of Melbourne’s leading private girls’ schools have been made redundant or have resigned in a bruising staff clean-out that has unsettled parents.

Catholic Church

Vatican gains access to Swiss fund details (The Australian)
Nov 29 – Vatican investigators have been given the green light to examine the secretive network of Swiss funds and accounts managed for the Holy See by manager Enrico Crasso.

Cardinal Pell surprised by Vatican intrigue surrounding his case (Brisbane Times)
Dec 1 – Rome: The Pope’s former treasurer, Cardinal George Pell, says he feels a dismayed sense of vindication as the financial mismanagement he tried to uncover in the Holy See is now being exposed in a spiralling Vatican corruption investigation.

Also: George Pell says he feels vindicated for trying to uncover alleged financial ‘criminality’ at Vatican (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 1 – Australia’s highest ranking Catholic cleric and the pope’s former treasurer, Cardinal George Pell, has said he feels a dismayed sense of vindication as the financial mismanagement he tried to uncover in the Holy See is now being exposed in a spiralling Vatican corruption investigation.

Pell, vice and the Vatican (The Australian)
Dec 2 – The cardinal battles sinister foes as the Pope’s money tsar.

The Vatican’s financial scandals (The Saturday Paper)
Dec 6 – As the Vatican reckons with scandals involving hundreds of millions of euros, the Holy See’s former treasurer George Pell has given his first interview since returning to Rome.


Child rapist collapses in pain as he is brutally whipped as punishment in Aceh (
Nov 29 – A child rapist collapsed and begged for mercy after he was flogged 146 times with a cane during a public whipping.

Iran’s mullahs deserve all they get (The Australian)
Dec 4 – (Opinion: Jason Thomas ) The idea that claiming to have the technology to wipe Israel and pledging to do it wouldn’t have dramatic consequences is fanciful.

Mosques across France raided in fight against Islamic ‘separatism’ (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 4 – Paris: France’s embattled interior minister has announced raids on dozens of mosques suspected of Islamist extremism following President Emmanuel Macron’s pledge to fight “separatism” in the wake of terror attacks.

Religious Violence

Taliban denies targeting media as 50th journalist dies in Afghanistan (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 3 – The Taliban have denied they are deliberately targeting journalists in attacks amid the surge in violence throughout Afghanistan.

‘They have taken us forcefully’: Rohingya sent to uninhabited island (Brisbane Times)
Dec 4 – Dhaka: Authorities in Bangladesh on Friday started sending more than 1,500 Rohingya refugees to an isolated island despite calls for a halt from human rights groups.


Transformed by the holy spirit? The bar pretending to be a church to beat Covid rules (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 2 – A tequila bar in Nottingham has plans to get around tier 3 by registering itself as the Church of 400 Rabbits and claiming it is a place of worship.

‘I am innocent’: First arrest under new law to curb interfaith marriage (Brisbane Times)
Dec 5 – New Delhi: A man from Northern India has become the first person to be arrested under a new anti-conversion law intended to curb “love jihad”— a highly contentious term used by Hindu nationalists who accuse Muslim men of luring Hindu women to marry them in order to convert them to Islam.

Christian group tears down mysterious monolith on California mountain (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 5 – A group of young men claiming to be Christians have posted a video of themselves tearing down a mysterious monolith that had appeared atop a California mountain and replacing it with a cross.

Historic New York church housing Liberty Bell gutted by massive fire (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 6 – A historic church in lower Manhattan that houses New York’s Liberty Bell and whose congregation dates to the city’s earliest days was gutted early on Saturday by a massive fire that sent flames shooting through the roof.


Muslim Miss Australia stares down her critics (The Australian)
Dec 4 – The beauty pageant winner writes on staring down her critics and her drive to replace ‘antiquated stereotypes’.


What most Jews don’t realise about festival with more gifts than Christmas (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 5 – Usually Chanukah and Christmas come in close proximity, but this year Chanukah starts very early, with the first of the eight nights on Thursday.


Gay conversion legislation puts Andrews on a collision course with churches (The Age, Melbourne)
Dec 6 – A Victorian government plan to crack down on churches using prayer to change LGBTI people has been branded as the biggest threat to religious freedom in years, placing Premier Daniel Andrews on a collision course with the nation’s faith groups.


Couple who believe it is a sin to be gay take fight to become foster parents to court (
Dec 1 – A Perth couple who believe homosexuality is a sin that can be overcome have taken their fight to become foster parents to court after their application was denied based on their religious beliefs.

From sexual addiction to queerness, young Christians are grappling with big questions around sex  (ABC News)
Dec 2 – Sex has always been a complicated topic for 25-year-old Rosario.

NSW pubs, theatres and places of worship say ‘freedom day’ will be their biggest lifeline in months (ABC News)
Dec 3 – Pubs, theatres and places of worship all agree — next week’s “freedom day” in NSW will be the best Christmas present they could wish for.

73-year-old man awarded $120,000 for defamatory Facebook posts by churchgoer (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 5 – A 73-year-old man has been awarded $120,000 in damages and $85,000 in legal costs after winning a defamation battle against a fellow churchgoer over Facebook posts branding him a scammer.

It can be hard to hear your mum thinks the Earth is flat (ABC News)
Dec 6 – It was on their weekly video call that Kasey Edwards first noticed the flat Earth poster in her mother’s house.