Religion News Selection

April 5 – 12, 2020

A selection of religion news stories from Australia

(Research: Greg Spearritt)


ABUSE – George Pell release

Pell release ‘devastates’ abuse survivors (
April 7 – Child sexual abuse survivors will be devastated that the High Court has overturned Cardinal George Pell’s convictions, advocates say.

‘The greatest miscarriage of justice’: Andrew Bolt responds to George Pell verdict (
April 7 – Outspoken columnist Andrew Bolt has labelled the case against Cardinal George Pell as “the greatest miscarriage of justice in Australian history”.

George Pell appeal: Cardinal to keep church titles, OAM
April 7 – Cardinal George Pell is widely expected to keep his various titles following his successful High Court appeal against child sexual abuse convictions.

George Pell: Australian cardinal to be released from jail after high court quashes abuse conviction (The Guardian, Australia)
April 7 – Cardinal George Pell, the former financial controller of the Vatican and the most senior Catholic in the world to have been found guilty of historical child sexual abuse, will be freed from prison and have his convictions overturned following a two-year legal battle.

Cardinal George Pell free from jail, but not from scrutiny (The Age, Melbourne)
April 7 – George Pell has spent his first night of freedom in a Melbourne monastery after the High Court ordered his immediate release from jail in one of Australia’s most contentious cases.

George Pell’s successful appeal hinged on the tricky question of witnesses (ABC News)
April 8  – (Opinion: Mirko Bagaric) Cardinal George Pell had a win in the High Court yesterday, but it would be regrettable if the outcome of the case made it less likely that victims of sexual abuse will report offences against them.

Why was George Pell’s appeal successful when our justice system values jury verdicts? (ABC News)
April 8 – (Opinion: Rick Sarre) The High Court today quashed the conviction of Cardinal George Pell, who had originally been found guilty on a number of charges by a jury of 12 people.

Witness J, former choirboy who accused George Pell, says case ‘does not define me’ (ABC News)
April 8 – The former choirboy who accused George Pell of abusing him in the 1990s says he hopes the High Court’s unanimous acquittal of the Cardinal does not discourage survivors from reporting abuse.

George Pell’s successful appeal was a clear result in a case that cut the nation to the core (ABC News)
April 8 – (Opinion: Noel Debien) “I hold no ill will toward my accuser, I do not want my acquittal to add to the hurt and bitterness so many feel; there is certainly hurt and bitterness enough.”

‘I am OK’: Pell’s accuser accepts High Court decision (Sydney Morning Herald)
April 8  – George Pell’s accuser has accepted the High Court’s decision to quash child sex abuse convictions against the Cardinal and reassured his supporters: “I am OK”.

Pell has found justice but his remaining days won’t be peaceful (Sydney Morning Herald)
April 8 – (Opinion: Barney Zwartz) Only two living people in the world really can be certain of what happened in the sacristy of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne on that fateful day in 1996.

George Pell’s accuser issues rallying cry to sexual abuse survivors in wake of verdict (The Guardian, Australia)
April 8  – The man at the heart of the failed case against Cardinal George Pell has issued a rallying cry to sexual abuse survivors.

This is a mighty triumph for George Pell. Now prepare for a storm of rage from supporters (The Guardian, Australia)
April 8 – (Opinion: David Marr) This is a mighty triumph not just for George Pell who is breathing free air for the first time in a year, and his backers who invested millions in his defence, but for the narrative of prejudice the church has spun all the years since the Melbourne police came for the cardinal in Rome.

ABC backs its reporting on George Pell after Andrew Bolt accuses it of a witch-hunt (The Guardian, Australia)
April 8  – The ABC has backed its journalists and its reporting on George Pell after the cardinal’s release from jail prompted a spate of attacks on the national broadcaster by Pell supporters.

Daniel Andrews asks PM to reveal redacted Pell report in full (The Age, Melbourne)
April 8  – Premier Daniel Andrews has asked Prime Minister Scott Morrison to quickly release secret sections of a report on the historical conduct of Cardinal George Pell, in the wake of the senior Catholic’s acquittal on child sex abuse charges.

Libs say police and prosecutors ‘owe community an explanation’ on Pell (The Age, Melbourne)
April 9 – The opposition is putting pressure on Victoria’s police, prosecutors and courts to publicly explain the decisions that led to the conviction of Cardinal George Pell.

Don’t accept sanitised history of clerical abuse (The Australian)
April 10 – (Opinion: Jack the Insider ) Failed pursuit of Pell overshadows ugly history of clerical child sex offending, police collaboration.

The Pell reckoning: Ray Hadley challenges Andrew Bolt to take it outside (The Guardian, Australia)
April 10 – (Opinion: Amanda Meade) Shock jocks Andrew Bolt, Ray Hadley and Alan Jones brawled openly on air this week after Bolt demanded an apology from Hadley for calling him “soft on paedophiles” now that George Pell has had his conviction quashed.

Why the ABC’s reporting of the George Pell case wasn’t a witch-hunt (ABC News)
April 10 – (Opinion: Craig McMurtrie) From the first trial that resulted in a hung jury, to a sweeping suppression order that set the national media and the courts on a collision course, the Pell case has polarised and transfixed the nation, and in light of the High Court ruling there is now opportunity for reflection.

Cardinal George Pell writes about suffering, jail and coronavirus in News Corp piece (The Guardian, Australia)
April 11  – Cardinal George Pell has used an Easter opinion piece to argue “God-fearers” are better able to deal with evil and suffering than atheists, pointing to his own experience of “13 months in jail for a crime I didn’t commit”.

ABUSE – Other

Face up to how abusers were helped: Andrews (The Australian)
April 8  – Daniel Andrews urges fellow Catholics to accept the fact that predators were moved around working class parishes for decades.


A bleak Easter in the bluestone churches of Victoria’s oldest town (The Age, Melbourne)
April 10  – On Easter Sunday, the holiest day of the Christian calendar, a deacon will unlock the door of St Stephen’s, Victoria’s oldest Anglican church, step inside, lock the door behind him and, alone, perform a 10 o’clock morning prayer service.


Netflix series Unorthodox is bringing the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community into the mainstream (ABC News)
April 10  – Unorthodox is a four-part German-American miniseries and Netflix’s first offering to be told primarily in Yiddish.


How do you become, formally, not-a-Catholic? You take the law into your own hands (The Guardian, Australia)
April 11 – (Opinion: Sebastian Tesoriero) The church has tried to make it so it can’t be divorced. Yet people do want to leave. In droves

Catholic Church

Coronavirus keeps worshippers away, Pope Francis delivers mass in empty St Peter’s Basilica (ABC News)
April 6  – Pope Francis has celebrated Palm Sunday mass in the shelter of St Peter’s Basilica without the public because of the coronavirus pandemic, while parish priests elsewhere in Rome took to church rooftops and bell towers to lead services.

Also: Easter gives hope in darkest hour: Pope (The Australian)
April 12  – In a nearly empty St Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis likens fears of current times to those felt by Jesus, as Christians adjust to a very different Easter.


New British Labor leader vows to stamp out anti-Semitism (The Australian)
April 6  – The new leader of British Labour, Keir Starmer, has apologised to the Jewish community for anti-Semitism in the party’s ranks.


Leap of faith: ancient Britons viewed hares and chickens as gods (The Guardian, Australia)
April 10  – Brown hares and chickens were revered as gods rather than reared for food when they were first introduced to Britain in the iron age, archaeological analysis suggests.

Easter is a time to connect. So even in isolation, let’s cherish the ties that bind (The Guardian, Australia)
April 12 – (Opinion: Nicci Gerrard) Yesterday, I had a conversation with the delivery driver, who I must have seen many times before but have never really talked to.


For these women, religion is an everyday part of work — and they wouldn’t change it (ABC News)
April 10  – No matter which aged care organisation Jihan Lazki works in, as a physiotherapist she’s doing the same thing.


Police raid ultra-Orthodox prayer group above store in Ripponlea (The Age, Melbourne)
April 10  – Police raided an ultra-Orthodox Jewish prayer group in Melbourne’s inner-east on Thursday morning where a group of at least 10 men were praying in contravention of social-distancing rules.

Easter in the age of COVID-19: no egg hunts but a yearning for rebirth (Sydney Morning Herald)
April 11 – (Opinion: Thomas Keneally) First, and one hopes last, Easter of the COVID-19 contagion.

The global crisis hammers home this truth: people matter more than religion (The Guardian, Australia)
April 12 – (Opinion: Brad Chilcott) Ideologies and institutions that do not retain the wellbeing of others as their driving principle will always end up harming people and eroding the common good.