Religion News Selection

January 29 – February 12, 2023

A selection of religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)



George Pell funeral: removing abuse victims’ ribbons is wrong, former church official says (The Guardian, Australia)
Jan 31 – Francis Sullivan, the former head of the Catholic church’s Truth Justice and Healing Council, says the removal of ribbons commemorating abuse survivors from St Mary’s Cathedral appears designed to prevent the scandal from being “associated with Cardinal [George] Pell” in the days leading up to his funeral.

As George Pell departs, every ribbon tells a story the church tried to silence (Brisbane Times)
Feb 3 – As people arrived one by one to put up ribbons at St Mary’s Cathedral over the past week, Ballarat child abuse survivor Paul Auchettl would quietly approach them.

Vatican’s most senior woman says Catholic Church ‘failed’ child abuse victims (ABC News)
Feb 4 – The Vatican’s most senior woman says the Catholic Church has “failed” victims of child abuse, and the church must become more modern and inclusive to stay relevant.

Psychologist who complained about Peter Hollingworth says she has ‘lost faith’ in church process (The Guardian, Australia)
Feb 7 – A school psychologist who complained about former governor general and Anglican archbishop Peter Hollingworth’s handling of child abuse allegations says she has “lost faith” in the protracted and secretive complaints process relied on by the church.


No ‘woke’ gender neutral god in my church: Bishop (The Australian)
Feb 10 – The bishop of the breakaway Anglican movement, the Diocese of the Southern Cross, says a proposal to stop referring to God as ‘He’ or ‘Our Father’ is a vindication of his split with the church.


As Pell the man is laid to rest, Pell the martyr rises (Sydney Morning Herald)
Feb 3 – Among mourners at Cardinal George Pell’s Requiem Mass, grief was imbued with defiance.

Pell thrived on conflict and it cost him dearly (The Australian)
Feb 4 – (Opinion: Frank Brennan) George Pell was an old-style churchman who never shrank from a fight. But by the time of his death, he was no longer a team player.


Power and purity (ABC News)
Jan 31 – At the end of each academic year, a graduating group of schoolgirls gathers in identical white gowns.

Also: ‘Not a crime to be Catholic’: Perrottet defends faith as former school comes under fire (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 31 – Premier Dominic Perrottet has defended parental choice in education as his former school faces allegations of preaching hardline religious views on sexuality, such as the value of chastity and the dangers of masturbation.

Anglican Church

Church of England allows blessings for same-sex couples, but continues ban on weddings (ABC News)
Feb 10 – The Church of England’s national assembly has voted to let priests bless same-sex marriages and civil partnerships while continuing to ban church weddings for those couples.

Church of England explores using gender neutral terminology to refer to God in prayer (ABC News)
Feb 9 – The Church of England will look into the use of gender neutral terms to refer to God in prayers, but the centuries-old institution said on Wednesday there were no plans to abolish current services.


Head of Russian Orthodox Church ‘was a spy for KGB’ (Sydney Morning Herald)
Feb 7 – Warsaw: The head of the Russian Orthodox Church worked as a spy for the KGB in the 1970s, according to newly declassified Swiss records.


Perrottet is no slave to his ‘Catholic gut’, but religion does cross into politics (Sydney Morning Herald)
Feb 3 – (Opinion: Margot Saville) A gratuitous attack on Premier Dominic Perrottet’s Catholicism has spotlighted the problematic relationship between religion and politics in this country.

WA upper house Liberal MP Goiran hits out at critics in email blast (Sydney Morning Herald)
Feb 3 – Influential Liberal MP Nick Goiran has lashed out at his detractors and declared people of faith were “not going anywhere” from parliament in a fiery email sent to his party faithful after a horror week that saw him lose both his shadow ministerial responsibilities and parliamentary secretary role.

Councillors push for end to ‘inappropriate’ Christian prayers at meetings (The Age, Melbourne)
Feb 3 – A group of Victorian councillors has written to the state government calling for guidelines to end Christian prayers in local council meetings.