by Greg Spearritt
Religion News Australia
Dec 18 - 25, 2011
Religion news stories from Australia
(Research: Greg Spearritt)
abuse / catholic church / education / international stories / islam / judaism / religion & society / other
Critics of church's handling of abuse cases need evidence (The Age, Melbourne)
Dec 20 – (Opinion: Peter O'Callaghan) Those calling for a public inquiry must show why it is necessary.
Weekend interview: Rotto's holy order (Perth Now)
Dec 24 - MONSIGNOR Sean O'Shea gives a cheeky grin, throws his head back and lets out a hearty belly laugh.
Father Bob gives final Christmas message (ABC News)
Dec 25 - Outspoken priest Father Bob Maguire has delivered his final Christmas message before he leaves his South Melbourne parish next year.
Also: Tears to flow at rebel priest's Christmas farewell (Herald-Sun, Melbourne)
Dec 25 - FAVOURITE clergyman Father Bob Maguire is steeling for a teary celebration as he presides over his last Christmas with his South Melbourne flock.
Results reflect Huntingtower of class strength (The Age, Melbourne)
Dec 21 - A SCHOOL in Melbourne's east founded on the principles of Christian Science has outperformed selective-entry government school Melbourne High in this year's VCE results.
School plagued by bullying claims faces the loss of half its teachers (The Age, Melbourne)
Dec 23 - A SUBURBAN primary school hit with bullying allegations against its principal over the past two years is facing the loss of about half its full-time teachers.
Sex victims to meet bishop who kept abuse secret (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 22 - DUBLIN: A Catholic prelate in Ireland has said the church would arrange for victims of clerical sex abuse in one diocese to meet the bishop who was in charge of it when hundreds of abuse complaints were kept secret.
London protesters, church in Xmas harmony (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 25 - Anti-capitalist protesters camped outside London's St Paul's Cathedral are preparing to ring in Christmas along with the church as previous squabbles were put firmly to one side.
Vatican.xxx web address snatched by mystery buyer (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 22 - The Vatican says an unknown buyer has snapped up the internet address vatican.xxx, a domain combining its name with an extension reserved for pornographic content.
American Indian to become saint (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 22 - A Mohawk known as the ''Pocahontas of the Catholic Church'' is to become the first American Indian saint after Pope Benedict attributed a miracle to her.
Moscow targets Hindu's holy text (The Australian)
Dec 21 - A RUSSIAN effort to ban the Bhagavad Gita - revered as the word of God by nearly one billion Hindus - and brand it as extremist literature has provoked a diplomatic spat between Delhi and Moscow.
Nepali girls confined by stigma and superstition (The West Australian)
Dec 22 - ACHHAM, Nepal (AFP) - Saraswati Biswokarma sits in the dark, rearranging the threadbare cotton sheet and straw bed she is forced to sleep on before bringing her knees up to her chest with a shiver.
Islamist parties dominate Egypt election (The Australian)
Dec 19 - EGYPT's largest Islamist parties have claimed the lead in the second round of a multi-stage legislative election, confirming them as front-runners in the first post-revolution parliament.
Indonesian police 'rehabilitate' punks (Daily Telegraph, Sydney)
Dec 19 - INDONESIAN sharia police are "morally rehabilitating" more than 60 young punk rock fans in Aceh province on Sumatra island, saying the youths are tarnishing the province's image.
Egyptian awomen hit street over violence (The Australian)
Dec 21 - AROUND 10,000 women have marched through central Cairo demanding Egypt's ruling military step down in an unprecedented show of outrage over soldiers who dragged women by the hair and stomped on them, and stripped one half-naked in the street during a fierce crackdown on activists the past week.
Muslim man jailed for punching nurse (The West Australian)
Dec 23 - A Muslim man, who punched a nurse when she tried to remove his wife's burqa during childbirth, has been jailed in France.
Russia warns of religious rift after Arab Spring (The West Australian)
Dec 23 - MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia is concerned that the Arab Spring revolutions could sow further turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa by provoking a potentially catastrophic rift between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
Indonesians tempted by Xmas glitz (news.com.au)
Dec 24 - CHRISTMAS has become serious business for retailers in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation.
Also: Indonesian hotels, malls splurge on Christmas glitz (The West Australian)
Dec 24 - JAKARTA (AFP) - An imported Christmas tree. Santa taking wish lists from children. Fake snow and carols at shopping malls. Christmas is serious business in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation.
Ultra-religious schools test Israel's high-tech future (The West Australian)
Dec 22 - JERUSALEM (Reuters) - There are no computers at Maoz Hatorah, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish boys school on the outskirts of Israel's bustling high-tech commercial hub, Tel Aviv.
Dec 24 - SHE had no intention of emulating Rosa Parks when she set out to hail a bus to Jerusalem last weekend, but by Tuesday evening Tanya Rosenblit had become a defiant symbol around whom most of Israel's population was rallying.
Danish cartoon sparked fanatic's plot to kill Aussies (The Age, Melbourne)
Dec 19 - Wissam Fattal's descent from champion kickboxer to would-be terrorist appears to have begun at least six years ago, when a Danish cartoon sparked outrage, protests and several deaths across the Muslim world.
More charges in bizarre Amish beard-cutting feud (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 21 - Twelve members of a breakaway Amish group have been charged with federal hate crimes in hair-cutting attacks on fellow Amish in eastern Ohio.
Kill charge deepens Iraq crisis (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 21 - IRAQ has been plunged into its deepest political crisis in years after the Shiite-dominated government ordered the arrest of the Sunni vice-president, accusing him of running a death squad that assassinated police officers and government officials.
Snipers at churches for Christmas (news.com.au)
Dec 22 - PAKSITAN will deploy snipers and hundreds of extra police at churches this Christmas to prevent possible attacks on the persecuted Christian minority, police said today.
Bomb blasts kill scores as Iraq power crisis grows (The Age, Melbourne)
Dec 23 - A WAVE of bomb attacks has killed 57 people as Iraq faces a political crisis, with its vice-president accused of running death squads and the premier warning he could break off power-sharing.
Syria's Alawites are secretive, unorthodox sect (The West Australian)
Dec 24 - PARIS (Reuters) - The clannishness, secrecy and tenacity of Syria's power elite around President Bashar al-Assad are hallmarks of the enigmatic Alawite faith that unites its members and arouses suspicion among the majority Sunnis.
Bomb explodes in church in Nigerian capital (ABC News)
Dec 25 - A powerful explosion has shaken a Catholic church in a densely populated part of the Nigerian capital Abuja.
Also: Christmas blast at Nigerian church (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 25 - A deadly explosion hit a church near the Nigerian capital Abuja on Christmas morning, with rescuers rushing to provide ambulances and the number of casualties unclear.
Dec 19 - AN American pagan, who lives with her boyfriend and his wife in London, won her legal fight to remain in Britain after arguing that the trio's religious beliefs forbid divorce.
Greece suicide rate soars (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 20 - Greece's suicide rate has reached a pan-European record high, with experts attributing the rise to the country's economic crisis and painful austerity measures.
Amish girl shot in head by man cleaning rifle (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 21 - The shooting death of a 15-year-old Amish girl driving a horse-drawn buggy was caused by a man who accidentally shot his rifle into the air while cleaning it two kilometres away, US police say.
Analysis - Egypt's Christians wary of too much foreign support (The West Australian)
Dec 21 – (Opinion: Tom Heneghan ) CAIRO (Reuters) - The Arab Spring has increased pressure on Egypt's Coptic Christians, with attacks on churches and bloody clashes with Muslims and the military. Many foreign Christians feel driven to help.
Zuma blames Christianity for problems (The West Australian)
Dec 21 - South African President Jacob Zuma has blamed Christianity for some of Africa's woes, comments that are likely to provoke anger in the country's churches.
Ancient text brings the Three Wise Men to life (The Australian)
Dec 22 - AN ancient document found in the Vatican archives casts new light on the story of the Nativity and the Three Wise Men who came to offer gifts to the infant Jesus, according to researchers.
Vietnam's Falungong under pressure (The West Australian)
Dec 23 - HANOI (AFP) - In silent meditation, the Falungong members did not flinch when a shirtless, tattooed man slapped them on the head, or when a burly female security agent dragged a dried palm leaf across their faces.
West Bank Christians pray for threatened valley (The West Australian)
Dec 23 - CREMISAN VALLEY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) - A handful of Palestinian Christians stand on a ridge under grey skies at an open-air mass, praying for protection for the sweeping valley that descends from their feet.
Minchin track axed over 'Christian backlash' (The West Australian)
Dec 23 - Award-winning Australian songwriter Tim Minchin has blasted Britain's ITV bosses after he claimed a specially-written track was pulled from the Jonathan Ross Show for fear of upsetting Christians.
Also: Comedian blasts ITV for cutting Jesus lyrics in Christmas special (The Age, Melbourne)
Dec 24 - Comedian Tim Minchin has berated a British television network for cutting from a popular program a song in which he compared Jesus to Woody Allen and zombies.
Also: Tim Minchin's song about Jesus cut from prime-time UK Christmas show (news.com.au)
Dec 24 - AUSSIE comedian Tim Minchin has become embroiled in a Christmas controversy in the UK with a song that compares Jesus to Woody Allen.
Religiously active Americans are 'joiners': poll (The West Australian)
Dec 24 - WASHINGTON (AFP) - Some 40 percent of Americans are active in religious groups, and they are more likely than their non-religious peers to feel good about their communities, a Pew Research Center poll suggested Friday.
If Jesus was born today 'Bethlehem would be closed' (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 24 - BETHLEHEM: If Joseph and Mary were making their way to Bethlehem today, the Christmas story would be a little different, says Father Ibrahim Shomali, a parish priest in the town.
Dec 24 - The Palestinian town of Bethlehem is once again overflowing this Christmas with an influx of Christian tourists.
Bethlehem gears up for Christmas (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 24 - Christians began flocking to Bethlehem early on Saturday to celebrate Christmas following a tumultuous year of political upheaval and change across the Arab world.
Thousands flock to Bethlehem for Christmas (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 25 - Tens of thousands of tourists and Christian pilgrims have packed the West Bank town of Bethlehem for Christmas Eve celebrations, bringing holiday cheer to the traditional birthplace of Jesus.
Dec 25 - Pope Benedict XVI has hailed Christ's humility, urging the faithful to look beyond the Christmas "glitter" and "enlightened reason" and issued a powerful message for peace.
No room in the inn in Bethlehem (news.com.au)
Dec 25 - TENS of thousands of Christians have travelled to Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas after a year of upheaval.
Union delegate Glen Stutsel free to bag the boss on Facebook (Adelaide Now)
Dec 21 - A UNION delegate sacked for lampooning a Muslim colleague as a "bacon hater" on Facebook has won back his job.
Gates to turn away mosque crowds in Guildford (Daily Telegraph, Sydney)
Dec 22 - WORSHIPPERS at a new mosque in Sydney's west will be turned away at a boom gate once capacity reaches a maximum of 130 people - but the vow to limit the number of worshippers is not enough to appease local homeowners.
Hanukkah means a hole lot of doughnuts (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 22 - THE Jewish bakery Glick's has ramped up its selection of doughnuts and traditional potato pancakes for the festival Hanukkah.
Faith, hope and a whole lot of celebration going on (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 23 - IF CHRISTMAS casts a long shadow, it has only made the ''festival of light'' shine a little brighter as Sydney's Jewish community began celebrating Hanukkah this week.
Lunch with ... Tim Costello (The Age, Melbourne)
Dec 17 - The Reverend Costello talks gluten intolerance, the Dalai Lama, gambling control and saving ailing charities.
Mum loses biblical row over daughter (Herald-Sun, Melbourne)
Dec 24 - A COURT has intervened in a parental dispute over whether their daughter, aged 7, should be baptised.
In Israel, a glimpse of the eternal (Herald-Sun, Melbourne)
Dec 25 – (Opinion: Andrew Bolt) IT'S CHRISTMAS and I'm in Jerusalem. And already I feel awkward.
Joyous time to reconnect with church (Adelaide Now)
Dec 19 - CHRISTMAS gives churches an opportunity to show once-a-year attendees what life as a Christian is all about.
'Tis merry Xmas by any name (The Courier-Mail, Brisbane)
Dec 20 – (Opinion: Pat Woods) GOOD Lord, C-mas has arrived!
Christmas rituals help hold us together (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 22 – (Opinion: Lyn Bender) Christmas is a time when religion meets US-style enterprise.
Believer or not, hope sustains all (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 23 – (Opinion: Simon Smart) This year children's author Frank Cottrell Boyce's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again breathed new life into an old story.
Church leaders' Christmas thoughts (ABC News)
Dec 24 - Church leaders have used their annual Christmas Message to highlight the need to address growing issues around refugees in Australia.
Dec 24 - Canberra's church leaders have delivered their Christmas messages ahead of the beginning of services tonight.
Generosity the key in hard times, say religious leaders (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 24 - GENEROSITY was needed in the face of economic uncertainty, changes to our environment and the misfortune of others, Christian leaders said in their Christmas messages - citing the birth of Jesus as God's most enduring example of charity.
Priest has rite stuff for parish with divine view (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 24 - MONSIGNOR Stephen Rossetti will conduct midnight Mass tonight with his sunglasses on.
Where there's faith, so too doubt (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 24 – (Opinion: Hugh MacKay) Humility is the mark of the true religious believer. The fundamentalist is corrupted by an assumption of superiority.
Bethlehem off Wall Street: where to seek meaning and worth (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 24 – (Opinion: Editorial) FOR as long as anyone can remember, Christmas has had something of a dual personality.
Gospels a no-fly zone, but Jesus' message rings true (Sydney Morning Herald)
Dec 24 – (Opinion: Martin Flanagan) EARLIER this year, I was in an old church in Nazareth that is thought to have been the synagogue where Jesus gave the locals a tongue-lashing - quite a performance given it was his home town.
Christmas a special time - and not just for Christians (Daily Telegraph, Sydney)
Dec 24 - CHRISTIAN and non-Christian Australian religious leaders have united in welcoming the festive cheer of Christmas.
Tidings of joy at Christmas (Herald-Sun, Melbourne)
Dec 24 – (Opinion: Editorial) THE greatest gifts this Christmas have already been received by some families in Victoria.
Clergy laughs off jokes on Jesus (The Australian)
Dec 24 - IN axing a yuletide performance by Australian comedian Tim Minchin, a British broadcaster had missed the key message of Christmas, church leaders say.
Churches urge compassion and iPhone moderation (The Australian)
Dec 24 - IN a festive season that has seen consumer demand spike for the latest technologies, religious leaders have warned that gadgets and social networking websites are detracting from human interaction.
Angry atheists just haven't got a prayer (Daily Telegraph, Sydney)
Dec 24 – (Opinion: Alan Oakley) DROPPING down on your knees in public to communicate with your chosen God has traditionally gone by the name of prayer. You'll find it rampant this Christmas.
Church leaders reflect on rocky year (ABC News)
Dec 25 - Church leaders have issued their Christmas messages, urging Australians to remember those who are struggling financially during the festive season after what they say has been a rocky year.
The meaning of Christmas (Daily Telegraph, Sydney)
Dec 25 – (Opinion: Joe Hildebrand) For many people, Christmas is the most joyous day of the year, which says a lot about our society.
Man, 78, dies after row over parking at church (The Age, Melbourne)
Dec 20 - A 78-YEAR-OLD man was allegedly involved in a fight with two men over a disabled car space before driving to a police station where he died while reporting an assault.
Dec 21 - There will be no bell ringing at a Catholic church in eastern Victoria this Christmas, because of a bizarre act of vandalism.
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