Religion News Australia

January 12 – 19, 2020

Religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Church, judges in unholy union (The Australian)
Jan 13 – (Opinion: Chrissie Foster) Our judiciary should not support Catholic clergy after revelations of child sex abuse.

Brisbane Archbishop slams laws to compel priests to report child abuse (Brisbane Times)
Jan 16 – Brisbane’s Catholic Archbishop has hit out at proposed laws that would compel Queensland priests to report the confessions of child abusers.

Catholic priest ‘confessed 1,500 times to abusing children’ (ABC News)
Jan 18 – A former altar boy who was allegedly sexually abused by a serial paedophile priest says he could have been spared if the Catholic Church enforced mandatory reporting of crimes admitted in the confessional.


Sweaty, gritty, messy: The taboo-busting retelling of Jesus’s life (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 15 – Midway through Triple Threat, a satirical, subversive and pop-ballad reworking of the New Testament playing at the Sydney Festival, UK performer Lucy McCormick gyrates to Justin Bieber’s Sorry while being doused in salt and mayonnaise.

True confessions: what really goes on behind the Vatican walls (Brisbane Times)
Jan 16 – (Review)  Everyone loves a secret.


Israel looks to speed up Malka Leifer extradition (The Age, Melbourne)
Jan 14 – Jerusalem: Israeli officials are seeking to expedite an extradition hearing for a woman facing dozens of sexual abuse charges in Australia after a psychiatric panel concluded she had lied about suffering from mental illness, the Justice Ministry announced on Monday.

Also: Malka Leifer granted further delays in extradition process (ABC News)
Jan 15 – The alleged victims of an Israeli teacher accused of sexually abusing girls at a Melbourne school said they were distressed and angry about further delays to her extradition case.

Also: Sex-case principal fit for hearing (The Australian)
Jan 15 – Malka Leifer has been declared fit to face extradition proceedings in Israel, delighting her accusers.

Also: Israeli court delays Malka Leifer case, granting lawyers time to cross-examine psychiatric panel (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 15 – The Jerusalem district court has once again granted the accused child sex offender Malka Leifer’s lawyers time to cross-examine the latest psychiatric panel who deemed her mentally fit to face trial.

Also: Accused pedophile ‘bearing the strain’ (The Australian)
Jan 16 – Accused child-sex offender Malka Leifer bore on her ‘narrow shoulders’ the strain the case had put on diplomatic relations, a court has heard.

Catholic Church

Retired Pope breaks promise to ‘hide from the world’, releases controversial book (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 13 – Vatican City: Retired Pope Benedict XVI has broken his silence to reaffirm the value of priestly celibacy, co-authoring a bombshell book at the precise moment that Pope Francis is weighing whether to allow married men to be ordained to address the Catholic priest shortage.

Also: Former Pope Benedict breaks silence to warn Pope Francis against celibacy rules (ABC News)
Jan 14 – Former Pope Benedict XVI has broken his silence to defend the value of priestly celibacy in the Catholic Church, in what appears to be a strategically timed appeal to Pope Francis to not change the rules.

Also: Pope Benedict wants his name removed as co-author of controversial new book about celibacy (ABC News)
Jan 15 – Former Pope Benedict XVI wants his name removed as co-author of a new book about the issue of priestly celibacy, his personal secretary said, in the latest twist in a saga that has riveted the Roman Catholic world.

Religious Violence

ISIS leader dubbed ‘Jabba the Jihadi’ captured in Iraq (
Jan 18 – A morbidly obese ISIS fanatic dubbed “Jabba the Jihadi” has been captured by Iraqi forces — who loaded him onto a flatbed truck because he couldn’t fit in a police car.

Panama exorcism ritual kills seven people, tortures 15 as authorities find bodies in mass grave (ABC News)
Jan 17 – Seven people were killed in a bizarre religious ritual in a jungle community in Panama, including a pregnant woman and five of her children who were tortured, beaten, burned and hacked with machetes.


Imam suspended after discovering bride is a man (
Jan 16 – A Ugandan imam was shocked to learn his new wife was actually a man after “she” was caught stealing a television from a neighbour.

‘The curse of sudden death’: Bizarre genetic mutation kills kids in two Amish families (
Jan 18 – For years it was known by one Amish family as the “curse of sudden death”


Two more Australians stripped of citizenship for Islamic State links (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 18 – Two Australians in Syria have been stripped of their citizenship over links to Islamic State, sparking family concerns about the status of their young children.

Australian mother of five stripped of citizenship, leaving two children potentially stateless (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 18 – An Australian mother of five held in the deteriorating al-Hawl camp of northern Syria has been stripped of her citizenship – retroactive by three years – leaving two of her children potentially stateless and potentially permanently splitting her family.


Baha’i Centre among Adelaide buildings burnt in overnight spate of fires (ABC News)
Jan 15 – Police are investigating a suspicious fire at a religious building in the Adelaide suburb of North Brighton, as well as at a unit in the city’s north.