2009-10-19 The Catholic church is a force for good in the world
"The Catholic church is a force for good in the world" was the title of a debate hosted by Intelligence Squared on October 19, 2009 at the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster; the motion was quite firmly rejected by the audience. Each speaker presented their case either for or against (speaking order: Onaiyekan, Hitchens, Widdecombe, Fry), after which there was a short but rapid-fire section with comments and questions from the audience and brief responses from the panel.
The audience were asked to vote on the motion both before and after the debate; a significant lead against the motion (1102 against, 678 favoring, 346 undecided) turned into a rout (1876 against, 268 favoring, and a mere 34 undecided) as those defending the motion offered at best vague defenses and seemed to rely most heavily on apologizing for the Church being human and infallible without actually agreeing on any specific points of error, much less accepting responsibility for changing the Church's behavior. Onaiyekan in particular made it quite clear at the end that he had not understood the significance of the points made by the opposition, if indeed he had understood the points at all.
Speakers for the motion were:
- John Onaiyekan, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja in Nigeria
- Ann Widdecombe, Conservative Member of Parliament and Catholic convert
Speakers against the motion were:
- Christopher Hitchens, writer, broadcaster and polemicist, author of the bestselling book God is not Great
- Stephen Fry, actor, author, comedian and television presenter; openly homosexual
- The Catholic church is a force for good in the world official event listing at IQ2
- video of the debate, in 5 parts