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.
Last month I wrote from Rome but before the Australian Bishops’ Ad Limina visit had begun. I think it will not be too boring if I also set today’s column in that ancient city, but this time with views inside the Vatican and, indeed, the Apostolic Palace itself.
One night at the recent Bishops’ Conference, a number of us were sitting around talking when someone remarked on something surprising. He said there had been greatly increased numbers at his Easter Masses, which was hardly what one would expect after all the bad news in churches in recent times. This, however, matched my own experience. There were more people in the Cathedral on Easter morning than I can recall in any of my time here. And other bishops had the same thing to report. What had happened?
Recently I was at a meeting that involved a priest who is a leading commentator on film and television or, if you like, ‘popular culture’. In a coffee break, following a chance remark by some bishop or church bureaucrat, our popular culture man began holding forth on the need for us all to be watching reality television in order to be in touch with the prevailing values in our society.