In Rome on October 13, Pope Francis will canonise John Henry Newman, the great 19th-century English scholar, writer and preacher. I should like to be there, because Newman has been a significant religious influence in my life but, as I will have just returned from the diocesan pilgrimage to the Holy Land, it would be a bit rich to shoot off overseas again, even for JHN.
Everyone knows the Catholic Church is opposed to abortion in principle, and for a very simple reason. But I will come to that soon. For now, let me just note that I say “in principle” because of the tendency for opponents of the church to suggest that, by being against abortion, the church is condemning all women who have had a termination, or is just anti-woman to start with. That, of course, is absurd. The church understands that many women resort to abortion in desperation, feeling they have little or no choice. They are not bad people. It’s a fault in our society that there is not more support available.
In December 2018 Cardinal George Pell was convicted for the sexual abuse of two choirboys at St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996 and 1997. It was the second trial, after the first trial’s jury failed to reach a verdict.