The absolute_file_name call failed on MacOS (Catalina) with "source_sink `
app_config('.')' does not exist." Also,
init.pl in my home directory is ignored.
What else can I try? I cannot create .swipl or other dot-files on MacOS, even as admin. I don't see a preferences plist file in any standard library location with a relevant entry.
 Never mind, I downloaded 8.1.32 and put
init.pl in ~/.config/swi-prolog.
My suggestion, for the benefit of non-powerusers who don't want to deal with dot-files, is to add a prolog goal: set_init_file or set_default_working_directory, that has a persistent effect, so that it will not have to be invoked on subsequent sessions.