by Greg Spearritt
Religion News Australia
January 4 - 26, 2014
Religion news stories from Australia
(Research: Greg Spearritt)
Jan 18 - A RELIGIOUS leader with three convictions for "filming a person's private parts without consent" was among 17 Sunday schoolteachers, priests and church ushers who last year sought to work with children.
Child abuse inquiry reopens in Sydney (Brisbane Times)
Jan 20 - The national child sex abuse inquiry will sit this week to hear further evidence on two case studies - the YMCA NSW and the Catholic Church's abuse complaints procedure.
Inquiry into child sexual abuse must be given time to fulfil task (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 21 – (Opinion: Editorial) At this time of year we proudly, rightly, celebrate Australia and its achievements.
Church official amends commission evidence (The West Australian)
Jan 24 - A senior church official has revised his evidence to the Royal Commission on Child Sex Abuse following a flurry of late night emails with a law firm representing the Catholic Church.
For gods' sake (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 21 – (Opinion: John McDonald) Peru's lost civilisations dealt as much in blood as in treasures.
Revolutionary poet Gerard Manley Hopkins asked God to rain upon his roots (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 25 – (Opinion: Martin Flanagan) The author of the 1979 biography of Gerard Manley Hopkins I read over Christmas, Paddy Kitchen, was an agnostic.
Jan 19 - There should be more religious education in Australian schools, says one of the men tasked with reviewing the national curriculum.
Also: Keep religion in schools but include all beliefs and exclude doctrine and dogma (The Courier-Mail, Brisbane)
Jan 19 – (Opinion: Alison Cotes) RELIGION is such a loose term.
Dharma school students on Buddhist path to knowledge (The Age, Melbourne)
Jan 26 - The dawn of a new day at the Daylesford Dharma School begins not with the bark of an automated bell, nor with a loudspeaker, but with gentle reverberations of a Tibetan singing bowl.
Jan 19 - The Vatican has told a United Nations panel assessing the Holy See's adherence to the Convention on the Rights of the Child that it wants to be an example of global best practice when it comes to eliminating child sexual abuse by clergy or church personnel.
Canterbury Cathedral's first girls' choir (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 24 - Canterbury, England: The pure, high voices of the choir soar toward the vaulted ceiling of Canterbury Cathedral as they have for more than 1000 years.
Jan 5 - Pope Francis will make his first trip to the Holy Land in May, visiting Jordan, Israel and the West Bank.
South Korean archbishop named cardinal (ABC News)
Jan 19 - A South Korean archbishop has been named cardinal by Pope Francis.
Francis to probe role of 'Hitler's pope' Pius XII (The Australian)
Jan 19 - POPE Francis wants to open the Vatican's secret archives on Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust before deciding on sainthood for the controversial wartime pontiff, accused by critics of having turned a blind eye to the extermination of 6m Jews.
Pregnant nun shocks church (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 19 - A nun who kept her pregnancy a secret has shocked the Roman Catholic Church by giving birth to a baby boy and naming him Francesco in honour of the Pope.
Vatican monsignor re-arrested by Italian police (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 21 - Vatican City: A Vatican monsignor already on trial for allegedly plotting to smuggle 20 million euros ($A31 million) from Switzerland to Italy was ordered arrested in a separate case for allegedly using his Vatican bank accounts to launder money.
Jan 23 - The personal secretary of late pope John Paul II defied a request to burn all his personal notes and will publish some of them in February, the Znak publishing house has announced.
Also: Papal notes 'reveal part of his soul' (The Australian)
Jan 24 - POPE John Paul II's secretary "did not have the courage" to burn all of the pontiff's notes after his death, and is now having some of them published.
Jan 25 - Pope Francis says the internet is "a gift from God" and called on Catholics to "boldly become citizens of the digital world".
Jan 25 - FRENCH President Francois Hollande met with Pope Francis amid tensions in his private life over an alleged affair with an actress.
Also: Hollande sees common ground with pope on global issues (The West Australian)
Jan 25 - Vatican City (AFP) - President Francois Hollande spoke of "convergence" on international issues after talks with Pope Francis Friday amid a swirling scandal over the French leader's love life and divisions in France over hot-button issues like abortion and euthanasia.
US court gives nuns health law compromise (The Australian)
Jan 25 - THE United States Supreme Court is offering a short-term compromise to continue to exempt a group of nuns that operates charity nursing homes from the birth control mandate of the country's health care law.
Also: Court rules US nuns can opt out of contraception clause (The West Australian)
Jan 25 - Washington (AFP) - The US Supreme Court said religiously-affiliated groups could opt out of a provision in the new health care law that requires employers to provide insurance that includes contraception.
Pope reshaping the Vatican (The Age, Melbourne)
Jan 26 - The Pope has started to purge a bureaucracy plagued by intrigue and inertia.
Massive Islamic festival begins in Bangladesh (The West Australian)
Jan 24 - Dhaka (AFP) - Vast crowds of Muslims prayed near the Bangladeshi capital as the second largest annual Islamic congregation after the Hajj began Friday under tight security.
Alcohol ban final nail in coffin for ancient Turkey hotel (The West Australian)
Jan 24 - Ankara (AFP) - A 400-year-old Turkish hotel that has long been a favourite of movie stars and VIPs from around the world has been forced to close its doors... because of a government ban on alcohol.
Jan 25 - A court in Pakistan has sentenced a British man to death for blasphemy for claiming to be a prophet of Islam.
Malaysian leader says Christians must heed 'Allah' ban (The West Australian)
Jan 25 - Kuala Lumpur (AFP) - Malaysian Christians must obey rules forbidding them from using the word "Allah", the country's leader was quoted saying Friday, breaking his silence in a festering row that has raised fears of religious conflict.
Youssou N'Dour records song for peace in Central Africa (The West Australian)
Jan 26 - Dakar (AFP) - Senegalese music icon Youssou N'Dour will on Sunday record a song dedicated to peace in Central African Republic with a singer from the country which has been torn apart by inter-religious violence, his office said.
A land of ghosts (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 21 - The spectre of the Holocaust is never far from Michael Gawenda's thoughts as he travels around Poland searching for its Jewish past.
'Black widow' suicide bombers threaten Sochi Games (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 21 - Washington: A possible female suicide bomber may have already made it past the ring of security for the Sochi Olympic Games, according to reports from America's ABC News and NBC News.
Genial host becomes terror victim as Taliban attacks restaurant (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 21 - Washington: On a recent Friday evening in Kabul, Afghanistan, I gathered with friends at the Lebanese restaurant that had long been a convivial and secure oasis in a harsh and unpredictable country.
Jan 22 - A group calling itself the Al Nusra Front in Lebanon and believed to be affiliated to the Syrian Al-Qaeda-linked group of the same name has claimed responsibility for a Beirut bomb attack that killed up to four people.
Jan 22 - A young Australian who died in Syria was shot in the head by a rebel sniper after a long siege, a member of an Al Qaeda-linked militant group has told the ABC.
Jan 22 - Pakistani fighter jets pounded tribal areas near the Afghan border in an operation against Taliban militants today, flattening several houses and sending villagers fleeing from their homes, military sources and local residents said.
Central African Republic children forced to commit atrocities, says UN (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 23 - As many as 6000 children in the Central African Republic have been recruited by armed groups and forced to commit atrocities along religious lines in a conflict that is at high risk of spiraling into genocide, UN envoys said.
Also: Chad sectarian fighting resumes as new President bids for peace (The Australian)
Jan 26 - MORE Christian-Muslim violence has erupted in the Central African Republic, forcing new interim President Catherine Samba Panza to take time out from talks on forming a government tasked with ending the bloodshed.
Jan 24 - A human rights group says security forces in western Myanmar massacred at least 40 Rohingya Muslims last week in a new outburst of violence.
Also: UN urges Myanmar to probe sectarian killings (The West Australian)
Jan 24 - Yangon (AFP) - The United Nations has called on Myanmar to investigate reports that dozens of men, women and children were killed in attacks on Rohingya Muslims with the alleged involvement of police.
Jan 25 - Clashes have broken out in the Egyptian capital Cairo involving supporters and opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood after a wave of bomb attacks targeting police.
French army kills 11 militants in Mali anti-terror operation (The West Australian)
Jan 25 - Bamako (AFP) - A French counter-terrorism offensive in rebel-infested northern Mali ended with 11 Islamist militants killed and a French soldier wounded, military sources inside the operation told AFP.
Jan 26 - The Philippines government and Muslim rebels says they have cleared the last hurdle in long-running peace negotiations, paving the way to end a deadly decades-old insurgency in the country's south.
Fourteen dead after China mosque stampede (ABC News)
Jan 6 - Fourteen people have been killed and 10 others injured in a stampede, during a gathering at a mosque in China's Ningxia region.
Jan 7 - An Indian judge has declared premarital sex "immoral" and against "every religion", adding that no educated woman should have sex believing that her partner will marry her.
Eighteen mourners of spiritual leader die in India stampede (The Australian)
Jan 18 - AT least 18 people in India's financial hub Mumbai were killed in a stampede as a large crowd gathered to pay their last respects to a Muslim spiritual leader, police said.
Swim in the Dead Sea, visit holy sites in Israel (Perth Now)
Jan 18 – (Travel) TIME for a travel quiz: "Where are we?".
US may send envoy to North Korea to seek release of jailed missionary Kenneth Bae (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 21 - Seoul: The United States has offered to send its special envoy to North Korea to Pyongyang to secure the release of American missionary Kenneth Bae after he appeared in front of journalists asking Washington to help him get home.
Encroaching desert stokes religious tensions in Nigeria (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 23 - Shehu Bello leaned on a staff as he stood guard over his two dozen head of cattle grazing outside Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, and spoke grimly about his two main adversaries: farmers and desertification.
Justin Bieber's mum asks fans to pray for him as fears grow over erratic behaviour (Herald-Sun, Melbourne)
Jan 23 - JUST days after Justin Bieber splashed out $85,000 at a strip club, his mum is pleading for people to pray for him.
Internet cracks grandmother's 18-year-old prayer code in minutes (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 24 - When a brain tumour took away Dorothy Holm's ability to speak, she picked up index cards and began filling them, edge to edge, with seemingly random, indecipherable sequences of letters.
Swastika on Austrian tombstone defies ban (The Australian)
Jan 24 - THE marble tombstone looks like others dotting the main cemetery of Graz, Austria's second city - but only at first glance.
US Mormons warn of 'alcohol culture' (Daily Telegraph, Sydney)
Jan 24 - THE Mormon church has issued a sweeping defence of Utah's famously strict liquor laws, drawing a line against tourism, restaurant and bar industry advocates who have helped ease alcohol regulations in recent years in the US state.
Chuck Smith: World failed to end for guru of the 70s 'Jesus freaks' (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 25 – (Obituary) Chuck Smith was a Christian fundamentalist pastor whose appeal to disillusioned hippies of the Haight Ashbury era fuelled the rise of the “Jesus movement” of the 1970s and inspired the introduction of religious worship into pop culture.
Jan 21 - It was the "gangster feel" of Muslim outreach organisation Ummah United that caught the eye of Tayyab Khan.
Bunbury mayor defends staff (The West Australian)
Jan 24 - The Mayor of Bunbury has defended council staff after the Islamic Association of Bunbury accused them of being unhelpful when they applied to build a mosque in the city.
At the crossroads (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 25 - How do you bridge a cultural divide? Three Muslim-Australians share their stories.
Time to scrap Lord's Prayer in Parliament: Greens (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 14 - The Lord's Prayer in Federal Parliament is an anachronism, according to Greens senator Richard di Natale, who is calling to have the prayer scrapped.
Also: Greens have no prayer of replacing God (Daily Telegraph, Sydney)
Jan 18 – (Opinion: Piers Akerman) Bereft of significant nation-building policies, acting Greens leader Richard Di Natale, has launched a crusade to axe the Lord's Prayer from the formal opening of parliamentary sittings.
Also: Heaven help those trying to scrap Lord's Prayer in Parliament (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 18 – (Opinion: Judith Ireland) When I was younger, I was very confused about what a "culture war" was.
God's army (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 18 - The overseas mission remains a rite of passage within the Mormon Church.
16 people taken ill at Hillsong camp venue owned by Tahlee Ministries (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 19 - Six ambulances and a rescue helicopter were needed to treat at least 16 people at a religious camp and concert held on a remote property near Karuah, north of Newcastle.
Jan 21 - A remote community in Central Australia is raising money to build a 20 metre high neon crucifix.
Blessing given as fleet sails past (ABC News)
Jan 24 - The Tunarama festival is famous for its tuna toss competition, but there is another tradition that many turn out to watch.
Uniting Church puts pressure on ANZ over child labour link (Sydney Morning Herald)
Jan 24 - The Uniting Church's investment arm wants answers from ANZ about the bank's financing of a Cambodian sugar plantation that has involved child labour, military-backed land grabs, forced evictions and food shortages.
It's the ordinary things that really count (The Age, Melbourne)
Jan 26 – (Opinion: Ann Rennie) An ordinary day towards the end of the school holidays.
Diesel fitter claims compensation because he couldn't work on the Sabbath (Herald-Sun, Melbourne)
Jan 26 – A MINE worker who decided he couldn't work on the Sabbath after rediscovering religion tried to claim compensation because he was not immediately given a roster change.
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