Religion News Selection

January 8 – 15, 2023

A selection of religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



Father of ex-choirboy who George Pell was accused of abusing will proceed with Victorian lawsuit (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 11 – The father of a deceased ex-choirboy who George Pell was accused of sexually abusing while he was Archbishop of Melbourne will continue his civil action against the cardinal.

Cardinal George Pell, Australia’s most powerful Catholic, who was dogged by scandal – obituary (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 11 – The Australian cardinal George Pell rose from modest beginnings to become one of the world’s most powerful Catholics but his reputation was fatally damaged by association with the church’s child sexual abuse scandals in his home country.

Cardinal George Pell’s death isn’t the end or a celebration for child sex abuse survivors (ABC News)
Jan 12 – (Opinion: Louise Milligan) “Today, it is like a radio station in my head, and it keeps on flicking over to different stations and some of them are louder than other stations. I wish I could take the batteries out so there was silence.

‘He didn’t even look me in the eye’: one survivor on how George Pell chose the church over children (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 13 – John Ellis, in his decades-long battle for justice from the church, came to learn two things about George Pell.

A school principal gave up everything to blow the whistle… George Pell hung up on him (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 15 – Graeme Sleeman resigned in disgust after complaining about Father Peter Searson in the 1980s and suspects he was then blacklisted


Sydney Archbishop backs gambling reforms to prevent ‘social harm’ (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 15 – The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney has backed government efforts to tackle problem gambling but stopped short of endorsing the use of a mandatory cashless card for gaming machines.

Death of Cardinal Pell

George Pell: A polarising Catholic figure who rose higher – and fell lower – than any Australian prelate (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 11 – (Opinion: Barney Zwartz) George Pell was by far the best known and most polarising churchman in Australia in the past century, perhaps ever.

How George Pell rose from country Victoria to become Australia’s most senior Catholic (ABC News)
Jan 12 – George Pell has arguably been Australia’s most prominent religious figure over the past few decades, and one of its most controversial.

God’s ruckman: Pell played church politics hard but won few fans (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 12 – (Opinion: Miles Pattenden) Everyone had a view on George Pell.

Injustices like these must not be allowed to happen again (The Australian)
Jan 12 – (Opinion: Chris Merritt ) George Pell’s imprisonment for 405 days is one of the worst miscarriages of justice in Australian history, ranking alongside the murder conviction of Lindy Chamberlain.

George Pell’s death symbolises the demise of a church out of touch and out of time (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 12 – (Opinion: Francis Sullivan) Cardinal George Pell died as he lived, a fierce defender of the Catholic church and of conservative Catholicism.

Shocking ‘secret’ memo attacking the Pope ensures George Pell’s crusade will outlive him (ABC News)
Jan 15 – (Opinion: Noel Debien) For better or worse, Cardinal George Pell’s influence is far from over.

George Pell saw climate science as a dangerous religious dogma – [and] held the church back (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 13 – (Opinion: Graham Readfearn) The late Cardinal George Pell left a legacy of climate science denial which – in his later years – became ever more distanced from reality and the position of the Catholic church.

George Pell will be remembered as a reformer with ‘a big heart’ by some but reviled by others (ABC News)
Jan 14 – Forty-eight hours after Cardinal George Pell launched a review of major transactions at the Vatican Bank in 2014, something happened that his then-offsider Danny Casey describes as a “remarkable coincidence”.

The missed opportunity that will define the legacy of Cardinal George Pell (Brisbane Times)
Jan 14 – (Opinion: Chip Le Grand) Instead of flights of angels, the death of Cardinal George Pell provoked another roiling culture war to sing the cardinal to his rest.

A true giant of the church (The Australian)
Jan 14 – (Opinion: Anthony Fisher) Isaac Newton famously said: ‘If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of ­giants’. With the passing of George Pell, the Catholic church bids farewell to one of its giants.

Why the Catholic warrior ultimately lost on marriage equality, climate and abortion (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 14 – (Opinion: Christopher Knaus) Unquestionable power within the church and an ability to bend the ear of conservative politicians could not stave off progress on issues the cardinal saw as threats.

Catholic Church

Bishops trading in the transcendent for a bigger tent (The Australian)
Jan 13 – (Opinion: George Pell) The Catholic Synod of Bishops has produced one of the most incoherent documents ever sent out from Rome.


Silver-plated menorahs, tableware hidden by Jewish owners during WWII uncovered in Polish home (ABC News)
Jan 14 – The discovery in central Poland of hundreds of objects that were most likely hidden by their Jewish owners during World War II provided a rare and precious find, officials have said.

Religious Violence

Afghan women athletes speak of the heartache of being barred from the sports they love (ABC News)
Jan 12 – Noura’s determination to play sports was so great that she defied her family’s opposition for years. Beatings from her mother and jeers from her neighbours never stopped her from the sports she loved.

The Taliban and the US agreed to bring peace to Afghanistan (ABC News)
Jan 13 – “Bringing peace to Afghanistan” — that was the bold promise at the heart of the 2020 agreement between the US government and the Taliban to end 20 years of war and terror.


How Shinzo Abe’s murder and his ties to Moonies blindsided Japanese politics (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 11 – In the days after Shinzo Abe was shot dead last summer while making an election campaign speech, commentators struggled to articulate a motive for a seemingly senseless attack on Japan’s former and longest-serving prime minister in a country admired for its near-absence of gun crime.


‘They’ll pick the white guy’: Usman Khawaja on race and smashing cricket’s inner sanctum (Brisbane Times)
Jan 13 – “Did you grow up supporting the Australian cricket team?” asks Usman Khawaja, before nodding his head in understanding when I, a fellow Pakistani-born Australian, admitted that I didn’t.


The threat of rising anti-Semitic incidents must not be ignored (The Age, Melbourne)
Jan 15 – (Opinion: Gabi Kaltmann) As a child, I remember the weight of invisible relatives who were murdered during the Holocaust.


Dutton says Pell’s conviction a ‘political persecution’, singles out Andrews government (The Age, Melbourne)
Jan 12 – Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has called George Pell’s overturned child sex conviction a “modern-day political persecution”, saying the Andrews government should reflect on how Victoria’s legal institutions gave rise to the former cardinal’s 404-day imprisonment.

Daniel Andrews ‘couldn’t think of anything more distressing’ for victims than a state funeral for Pell (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 12 – Two Australian state governments will not offer taxpayer-funded public funerals for Cardinal George Pell, with the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, saying his decision was made out of respect for victims of institutional child sexual abuse.


‘This can’t stand’: Hateful neo-Nazi messages left in Brisbane letterboxes (Brisbane Times)
Jan 11 – A neo-Nazi presence in Brisbane has been leaving disturbing – albeit nonsensical – promotional material in letterboxes around leafy inner suburbs calling on residents to join up.