Religion News Australia

December 20 – 27, 2020

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Malka Leifer is due to be extradited from Israel to Australia (ABC News)
Dec 26 – Six years after Australia first put in a request for extradition, Israel signed an extradition order last week to send former Melbourne school principal Malka Leifer back to Australia.


Catholic Church’s insurance company in financial trouble over abuse payouts (The Age, Melbourne)
Dec 23 – The Catholic Church’s private insurer spent more than $58 million paying out the victims of sexual abuse last year and the company is being forced to raise fresh capital and liquidate investments to cover a future compensation bill worth at least another $238 million.

Brother Bede’s ‘supernatural calling’ to become Tasmania’s first Benedictine monk (ABC News)
Dec 27 – In a move unfathomable to many young men, in a few weeks Brother Bede will commit his life to God — becoming the first at his rural Tasmanian monastery to become a fully fledged monk.

Catholic Church

Vatican’s sci-fi nativity scene snubbed by Pope Francis (Brisbane Times)
Dec 21 – Vatican City: Pope Francis on Sunday, local time, appeared to add his own thumbs-down to widespread criticism of an unorthodox nativity scene in St Peter’s Square, telling visitors to instead visit a nearby exhibition of traditional mangers.

Pope approves vaccines linked to abortion cell lines (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 23 – Vatican City: The Vatican has declared that it is “morally acceptable” for Roman Catholics to receive COVID-19 vaccines based on research that used cells derived from aborted fetuses.

Vatican’s secret $2bn flummoxes church (The Australian)
Dec 23 – (Opinion: Dennis Shanahan) The Vatican and associated entities have transferred $2.3bn to Australia since 2014 without knowledge of local church leaders.

In Christmas message curbed by COVID-19, Pope calls on nations to share vaccines (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 26 – Vatican City: Pope Francis in his Christmas message said political and business leaders must not allow market forces and patent laws to take priority over making COVID-19 vaccines available to all, condemning nationalism and “the virus of radical individualism”.


Athens’ first official mosque permitted to reopen for Christmas (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 25 – Christmas has been greeted with enthusiasm by Muslim worshippers in Athens after the modern Greek capital’s first official mosque – forced to close only days after its inauguration in November – was told it could reopen for the holiday.


Holocaust survivor Anita Lasker-Wallfisch: ‘No memorial can come anywhere near what happened’ (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 27 – The cellist believes that plans for a UK Holocaust memorial are ‘counter-productive’.

Religious Violence

Nine dead as Kabul car bombing targets Afghan lawmaker (ABC News)
Dec 21 – A car bombing in Kabul targeting an Afghan lawmaker has killed at least nine people and injured 20 others.

Boko Haram kidnaps 40 loggers and kills three in north-east Nigeria (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 27 – Boko Haram jihadists have seized about 40 loggers and killed three others in north-east Nigeria near the border with Cameroon, militia sources and residents have said.


John Rawls: can liberalism’s great philosopher come to the west’s rescue again? (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 21 – In the extraordinary aftermath of the American presidential election, as Donald Trump set about de-legitimising the country’s democratic process in order to stay in power, a timely investigation was published in a New York-based cultural magazine.

This isn’t a very joyful Christmas. But in mourning there is strength (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 26 – (Opinion: William Barber) As many Americans pause to celebrate the Christmas holiday this weekend, it is tempting to wish for a momentary pause in our public life of ceaseless conflict.

How the Kama Sutra and colonial legacy still impact the sexuality of young Hindus today (ABC News)
Dec 27 – When lawyer-turned-fashion designer Lokesh Kashyap came out to his parents as bisexual, he was met with two types of confusion.

Desecrated and hidden for centuries, priest’s effigy is restored to glory (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 27 – His stone face was smashed in by Henry VIII’s soldiers during the Reformation.


Bangladeshi-Muslim Nibir Khan experiences his first Australian Christmas in Central Queensland (ABC News)
Dec 25 – In my 24-year life, I have never had an opportunity or reason to celebrate Christmas.


Fred Nile locked out of party headquarters as internal fight heats up (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 23 – A Supreme Court judge has questioned whether Fred Nile’s Christian Democratic Party should be wound up as an ongoing legal dispute resulted in locks being changed at the party’s state headquarters, keeping out Mr Nile and his co-defendants.


As churches prove ‘fertile ground’ for conspiracy theories, some pastors are taking a stand (ABC News)
Dec 23 – During the whirlwind of 2020, Sydney reverend and radio host Bill Crews has noticed a surge in an old foe within his flock — conspiracy theories.

Salvos supporter claims charity ‘bullied’ her into taking petition down (
Dec 23 – A woman who started an online petition which has drawn nearly 23,000 signatures calling on the City of Perth to bring back the Salvation Army’s mobile food service for the homeless claims she has been “bullied” into taking the petition down by the same organisation she was trying to support.

I was in my tweens when my mother told me Santa wasn’t real. And then my world ended (The Guardian, Australia)
Dec 24 – (Opinion: Matilda Boseley) I think everyone remembers the first truly shocking moment in their lives.

At Christmas, hospitality can link us to a greater truth: nobody is disposable (ABC News)
Dec 25 – (Opinion: Simon Smart) On Christmas day in 1971 Reverend Bill Crews sat down with a plate of sandwiches in a church hall in Sydney’s Kings Cross and waited.

‘Don’t labour on the darkness,’ says archbishop in Christmas message (The Age, Melbourne)
Dec 25 – After a challenging year, church leaders have called for Melburnians to pause and rejoice in the hope of Christmas.

Aussie spirit shone through (The Australian)
Dec 26 – The leaders of Australia’s major Christian churches have sent a message of hope and solidarity in their annual Christmas missives.

China and its cross to bear (The Australian)
Dec 27 – (Opinion: Greg Sheridan) The Chinese Communist Party is concerned the rise of Christianity could threaten its grip on power.

Concerns over crowd at Hillsong Sydney light display (The Australian)
Dec 27 – Video footage appears to show a large crowd at Hillsong Church’s Christmas light display in Sydney’s northwest.