Is the Catholic church a force for good in the world ?

testpope benedict

The one billion plus Catholics in the world would presumably say “yes”-  but what about the rest of the world?    

Is the Catholic Church a force for good? 

That was the motion for an Intelligence Squared debate , held recently in London, which was broadcast on BBC World News last weekend.


Arguing in favour of the motion the Archbishop of Abuja, John Onaiyekan, and Anne Widdecombe,   a Catholic convert and former British Conservative Minister, had their work cut out.

A poll of the audience on their way into  the debate was,  as Anne Widdecombe put it,  ‘slightly discouraging’.      1102 people said they were against the motion, 678 were in favour and 346 were undecided.  

Could she and the Archbishop swing enough of the anti’s their way to win the debate?stephen fry

Their adversaries – Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry – didn’t pull their punches.    The crusades, the inquisition, the Church’s history of anti-Semitism all got a mention.  

  Their more up-to-date charge sheet included  the child abuse scandals and the Church’s failure early on to report the perpetrators to the authorities;  the categorisation of homosexual sex  as a ‘moral evil’; and the fact that the Church teaches that condoms are wrong.    

Christopher Hitchens , with the Archbishop in his sights, argued that the latter policy had hindered the fight to prevent the spread of AIDS in Africa:

“I say it in the presence of His Grace and I say it to his face.  The preachings of hitchens_leadhis church are responsible for the death and suffering and misery of millions of his brother and sister Africans, and he should apologise for it, he should show some shame.”

anne widdicombeIn response, Anne Widdecombe quoted a non-Catholic, Dr Edward Green of the Harvard Centre for Population and Development Studies: “Twenty years into the pandemic there is no evidence that more condoms leads to less AIDS.  We’re simply not seeing what we expected.”

She and the Archbishop cited the billions of dollars spent on the poor by Catholic charities; the fact that it championed the oppressed; that Catholics had been prominent in their opposition to the Nazis;  and that the Vatican had apologised for and learnt from the mistakes of the past.  

The Church they argued gave more than a  billion  Catholics in the world a message of hope and salvation and a set of moral absolutes that equipped them to make a positive contribution to society.  

“If I didn’t believe that the Catholic Church is a force for good,”  said the Archbishop, “ I would not devote my whole life to working in that institution.”

The debate did change a lot of minds.   When the audience was polled again at vaticanthe end more than 700 people voted differently.    

Early blog reactions here  and here , and coverage in the Telegraph here..

BBC_WorldNews_Stack_Rev_RGB [Converted] To find out how,  watch BBC World News this coming weekend.    And because we think it’s important to get a world view tell us what you think about the modern Catholic Church in a special World Have Your Say on Friday 13th November. 

Trailer here .

221 Responses to “Is the Catholic church a force for good in the world ?”

  1. 1 Tom K in Mpls
    November 6, 2009 at 20:18

    They are a political force without a country. They are as bad and biased as most governments.

    • 2 stephanv
      November 10, 2009 at 19:36

      It has always astounded me the friction between these two religions. They have so many similarities in origin and historical naratives. A great lesson for Christians would to study Islam and Europe in the time previous to Christopher Columbus and Islam.

      • 3 stephanv
        November 10, 2009 at 19:44

        As long as people follow religion based on divine revelation these chasms will exist. It is difficult to have dialoge with religions that say they alone have the divine truth. This is one of the major reasons I am now a deist along the line of many of the men that wrote the Constitution including Thomas Paine. ///Portland OR

      • 4 Eric Bergerud
        February 3, 2010 at 23:09

        Thomas Paine, never an American citizen, was an atheist, not a deist, and did not have any role in writing the US Constitution. Most of the “Founders” were Christians, but, like Washington, considered it bad form to discuss matters of faith in public, particularly at a time when social unity was at a premium. Surely there were deists like Jefferson, but it’s utterly bogus to claim that the authors of the Constitution were secularists. What moderns don’t understand is that most Christian denominations (with the Puritans this went back to the early 17th century New England settlements) opposed any kind of state church because they thought – with reason – that it had hindered both faith and state in England. The lessons of the English Civil War cannot be overstated. (BTW: Jefferson, the poster child of deism, and the author of a deist New Testament while President, chickened out in old age. After he turned 80 he talked often of seeing his long dead wife in heaven and hoped the real Jesus would understand.)

    • 5 Ronald Almeida
      November 14, 2009 at 14:23

      No, They are far worse. Do you know that the Vatican is the richest (GM eat your heart out) and most corrupt instituition in the world?

    • 6 Harry Rose
      February 26, 2010 at 15:02

      It is a disgraceful organisation but will it ever be shut down? No.

      Because of the billion of sheep that follow blindly and ignorantly.

      • 7 Dion
        February 28, 2010 at 02:33

        The same Catholic church which has set up several schools, hospitals, the same chiurch which rescues children from the gutters of India (among others), and fights for the rights of the unborn child, is disgraceful???
        It’s obvious who is the blind person and sees only the black spot on a white sheet of paper.If one can’t say anything positive, don’t say anything at all.

  2. 8 B Stevens
    November 6, 2009 at 20:31

    Another chance to bash the church. Round up the usual suspects. The ubiquitous Stephen Fry. Is there a programme that he has yet to be on? Maybe snooker and MOTD? Does he get paid by the hour?

    • November 9, 2009 at 22:24

      I find your answer is perfect proof of the wilderness the Catholic Church and its followers moves in.

      There is not a sound or heartfelt defense of the Catholic Church – There is dirt and suspicion thrown on the participants who came out as winners in the debate – Having moved a large group of people to their views. While the stuck up Bishop in his fancy clothes looked and sounded more and more stupid.

      The Priests of Judaism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism has been talking on their sheepish congregations for so long, that they are absolutely naked when it comes to a simple defense of what they stand for.

      And they, in my oppinion, stand with both feet firmly planted in the clouds and on a story which is completely ludicrous.

      Whatever old man in the sky would send his beloved son to the earth for a crucifiction and call himself a God – NO-One! Whoever started that in sane tale must have been in sane, and it is about time to give up that idea in general..

  3. 11 zb
    November 6, 2009 at 21:22

    In six Billion People Format World probably Christians are considered equal or more too Islamic followed by others such as Buddhist and Hindus. Religion is a process which was meant to be self sustaining for its adherent. Some came early and some came latest. The Most organized religion such as Christianity has places of worship everywhere. But Judaism with thousands of year’s history simply has lower in numbers than even siekhs.Buddhist Japanese and amid Mixed Chinese and India have growing money reserve. But future growth of a religion must have religion with instruction what to do with it to make Population religious complying all the religion Norms. Religion governs future life after
    Death. Religion is belief in life after death. Six billion will not change easily to comply with religion requisite. Catholic Church UN or any specific group including organized or growing people is polluted with fund raising extravagant without following book of religion. In religion book with puts you to Heaven which knows every thing and teach you if willing. US Doctor Psychiatrist uttered God is great at the incidents. India had a Nobel Prize winner whose future generation is a Muslim while a Brahmin convert who is believed to have created for the birth of a US friendly Nation where H Clinton went quoted to have said: “Future is when you provide solution bypassing Obstacle”. Obstacles are what we know. Knowledge is we have. Products and solution is dime a dozen amid each religion adherent has obstacles with lack of Knowledge of Religion such as Catholics.

  4. November 7, 2009 at 00:29

    Hard to pin it down as a force for good in the world when you look at the stories behind the unfortunate orphans and abandoned children who were left in the “care” of the church in the last century.
    And it’s all very well pointing fingers at Scientology and calling it a cult but doesn’t the Catholic Church, with its “official” miracles and apparitions belong in the same category?
    We’ve been looking at the events at the Knock shrine recently in this post….


    They appear to have all gone bonkers!

  5. 13 No Thanks
    November 7, 2009 at 00:35

    Although not a catholic myself, I went to catholic school for about ten years. I came away from it with fond memories of the catholic friends I made but with a profound sense of disgust for the church’s intolerant hierarchy and dogma. Even though I am not, have never been and never will be a papist, the principal threatened to expel me for refusing to attend morning mass and this in a school which advertised itself as welcoming all faiths (presumably so that they could take a shot at converting us).
    Their claim to doctrinal infallibility, their aggressive tendency towards proselytization and the sheer intolerance of many of their most primitive tenets makes me feel uneasy and glad that they hold little temporal power.
    Are they a force for good? I suppose that depends on who you ask such as the victims of their clergy’s lust and the shameful attempts by the bishops to cover the matter up which only served to spread the harm or perhaps the victims of right-wing death squads in latin america who were supported by, and even encouraged by their bishops. I have no doubt that many have been helped by catholic missions and charities but, as always, if they were not there, someone else would have done it.

    • 14 Tom K in Mpls
      November 9, 2009 at 15:39

      My past was a bit nicer, but much the same.

      • 15 Saut
        November 9, 2009 at 22:52

        My primary and early secondary school education were in a Singaporean madrassah. And no personal problem. From No Thanks “their clergy’s lust” and Tom K in Mpls”past was a bit nicer’. Both seems to have problems in intercourse with Catholic School administrators. Reccomend you send your children to madrassahs for their education.

  6. 16 vijay pillai
    November 7, 2009 at 01:01

    I never heard of it before but one has to wait and see.In any case lack of birth conrol detrimetanlt o family life and the planet’.

  7. November 7, 2009 at 01:34

    The bloody Roman Catholic Cult is the Babylonian Mystery religion in “Christian” drag! Any good they might do is merely meant to disarm and deceive the masses. They were and remain a wolf in sheep’s clothing folks would do well to beware.

    • 18 Kevin PE
      November 10, 2009 at 10:02

      Are you referring to the 1 billion odd members of that faith, just the upper echelon clergy or the faith in its entirety? If it is the upper echelon I would have to support you in some manner. However your “bloody Roman Catholic cult” reference infers the latter I believe. In that case I wish the nauseatingly hypocritical left wing establishment a very good day. Thank you for showing the world the meaning of tolerance, a balanced judgment of hate speech and an ideal mirror image of what not to become. I thank you.

    • 19 FidelitasVeritas
      November 10, 2009 at 16:46

      Thank goodness the Jewish aims to establish their own ‘Rome’ in Palestine are as equally and intolerably tarnished.

  8. 20 Bert
    November 7, 2009 at 02:49

    I’m curious. Is this topic to give a bit of counterbalance to all the bad press Islam has been getting lately?

    Just wondering.

    Also, parenthetically, you will not find a lot of sympathy among Catholics for the child abuse perpetrated by some in the Catholic clergy. I don’t think anyone can accuse Catholics of trying to sweep that under the rug, of being “mysteriously silent” about it, or of complaining that it was plastered all over the news.

    Let’s see whether we get Catholic apologists on these points.

  9. 21 Don in Detroit
    November 7, 2009 at 02:56

    On balance, yes. Although the opposition raises valid points, it does so on a lot of false assumptions about morality. There are moral absolutes which to the extent that they are practiced in any culture will stabilize interactions between people in beneficial ways. The Christian ethic which is prominent in the Churche’s message is an compendium of behavior which is nurturing, positive, and loving while still balanced with a knowledge of realistic consequences for disregarding moral law and even the reasons why they occur!
    Most of the critics are solidly in the atheistic and therefore of course relativistic camp or are of the ilk that deny the inspiration of the scriptures such as Desmond Tutu who decry’s the failure of developed nations to devote enough money the stemmind the spread of HIV while out of the other side of his mouth at the same time he says “The bible is not any reliable inspired record of the will or intentions of God…”. Maternal mortality is also high but many of these deaths are to women who are too young and unprepared physically or psychologically to take on responbility of being pregnant which is the likely result of having sex since quite simply “condoms sometimes break”. The
    sure way of avoiding any problems is chastity and discretion for the young but the “do your own thing” relativists have hijacked education and public dialogue away from the philosophy which justifies practice of sure morals in favor of the atheist model. This turn of paradigm is insalubrious and ruinous to any culture which is held in it’s sway. “Atheistic Communism was not obnoxious to sensibilities because it was communism but rather because it was atheistic.

  10. 22 Tan Boon Tee
    November 7, 2009 at 04:06

    The fundamental tenet of all religions is love.

    Every religious movement constitutes a great and respectable force for good of mankind, not just the Catholic church.

    Let love and good prevail in this much troubled world.

    • 23 Ctan
      November 16, 2009 at 02:01

      Religion is human’s interpretation of things that happen that they cannot explain scientifically. Way before even the greek and roman gods, religion existed. With such revelations, come the power and ability to controls hordes of humans, under the guise of god’s command, to do the bidding of one person.

      Everything that happened were attributed to a god; barbarian invasions, animal attacks, the weather, drought, famine and sickness were all beyond human abilities to comprehend, and administer.

      When scientist emerged with discoveries contrary to the stories of god, they were declared as infidels who worked with the “devil” and evil magic. Then the power to control the hordes was very useful here, for lynching and stake parties. Very nice.

      But nevertheless, the houses of religion have lost huge ground to science, and the “revelation” of religion regarding many things evaporated. So how can religion maintain their hold over the people? Two things, heaven and war. Thankfully, for the sake of getting to heaven, many have given efforts to charity and helping the less fortunate. Unfortunately, religion is also the basis, and many times the scapegoat, of wars. This is where religous commandments need to be retracted, but how do you retract something which has been washed into people’s minds for so long?

      note: all these started from teachings, how people should live, in peace and cooperation. Religion started when people used these teachings to control the masses. Let it be known that Buddhism is a teaching. It has never required anyone to pray and give tidings to Buddha. Buddhism is not a religion.

  11. 24 James Ian
    November 7, 2009 at 07:00

    God is good but, oganized religion, no matter the denomination or faith is bad.
    Sure they do some good things from time to time but, over all they are self serving, power and money money hungry deviants.

    • 25 gary
      November 13, 2009 at 14:22

      I’m beginning to think it’s the process of organization rather than the specific group of people that leads to evil doings. Ability to acquire positions of leadership appear not to correlate with abilities to lead toward originally defined group goals.

  12. 26 patti in cape coral
    November 7, 2009 at 07:33

    I’m afraid I don’ t think the catholic church is a force for good, although there are quite a few in the catholic church that have their heart in the right place.

  13. 27 Dion Fernandes
    November 7, 2009 at 12:35

    I was absolutely disgusted at this debate. It seemed to be an attack on the Catholic Church by the BBC? Why wasn’t the title if the debate “Are the Protestant Churches a force for good in the world?” The obvious ignorance, insolence of the audience is extremely obvious. Why not invite on the panel: AIDS victims, and homosexuals who have contracted the disease due to failure of/or improper condom usage? Let the weakest speak out. Why did Mr. Fry want to join the Catholic Church- to attack it from within? Or did he want to “participate in the rape”
    The laws that the Catholic Church follow are those laid down by God- the clergy only uphold it. If there was “rape” in the Church, it was by individuals – it is not part of Church doctrine. If a homosexual joins the priesthood with intentions to commit abuse it is his weakness primarily and he is called to repent and turn away if he is found out.
    Till today I had some respect for the BBC. Wonder what attack is in store for us on the 13th. the Catholic Church has survived 2000 years of attacks, from without and within. She will continue to do so.Pity the “developed” world where everyone wants to be God.

      November 14, 2009 at 13:18

      Thanks. I have defenite agreement with your point. Also, would like to mention- the entire debate were business motivated and particularly made to tarnish the truth. the truth that only the Catholic church can survive among all organisations and forces in the world till the end of human race.
      Nevertheless to say, good deeds and contributions of catholic church to the mankind till today has been ignored and only one or two failures have been highlighted in the debate. again the result of this debate proved that its all depends on how well you can play with words rather than the actual cause.!!

    • November 14, 2009 at 16:00

      That comment was uncalled for it was a debate, don’t shoot the messenger for his views. Don’t take it personally.

    • 30 Bernard Simoes
      November 15, 2009 at 17:43

      Sure was a disgusting debate. More like an anti-Catholic Church debate.

      Those 2 fellows criticising the Catholic Church were the most idiotic guys I’ve ever seen on TV.

      They accused the Catholic Church of being obsessed with sex. I mean, hello, you westerners are the ones obsessed with sex, not the Catholic Church. You westerners are a culture of rapists, paedophiles & prostitutes.

      Those so-called UN ‘peace-keepers’ that you guys send to Africa are nothing more than rapists & murderers. On top of that those 2 morons had the audacity to use a couple of stories of rapes by Catholic Church members & generalise that to all clergy of the Catholic Church?

      One of those morons, (the hitchens guy ), said that he would like to have the other guy as a guardian for his children – well, thats only because he knew he would get more services than just baby-sitting.

      That hitchens guy also brought-out the worn-out trumpet of the Catholic Church & condoms. I wish the guy would wear one on his tongue to protect us from the vile pouring from it.

    • 31 eddy
      November 16, 2009 at 00:41

      i agree . just as jesus had to suffer ,thank you bbc for letting his body on earth undergo this on your most respectable network . once a group of winesses were preaching to a deaf man on the street … the signed reply was ….” nothing ! nothing ! will ever make me leave my go and faith ” …..till today tis is my own philosiphy …… the programme should have focuesed on the teaching of jesus and his message for us today as tayght by his own true church .

      thanks for teasting our faith …….we will still end up in heaven by the sacraments and prayers we catholics do …….and when the rest of you reach hell , then you will have no time to regret .

      god bless you all .

  14. 32 billy musonye
    November 7, 2009 at 12:44

    the catholic church was responsible for many deaths during the crusades periods in the earlier centuries. there is no way it can be a force for the good since they believe in man made ideologies, but not God. we know very well that they want many followers and they are ready to use any means to achieve their own ambitions, these includes sparking bloody wars among different countries.

  15. 33 mark heuz
    November 7, 2009 at 14:00

    Imagine if the headline said,

    “Is Islam a force for good in the world ?”

    The BBC along with so many other is biased by political correctness.

  16. November 7, 2009 at 14:30

    The Catholic Church is probably a force for good in the world today.

    But considering the church’s history of murders, inquisitions, and more recently the child-sex scandals… I refer to Mathew 7:15-20

    If the Catholic Church opposes abortion, why do they allow politicians such as Nancy Pelosi to promote abortion and remain Catholic? It reeks of hypocrisy, and suggests a greater interest in having members in places of power rather than following doctrine.

  17. 35 Don in Detroit
    November 7, 2009 at 15:23

    Where can it be said that the chircj can do any better? Criticism for the perseocution of Galileo is no
    more justified than criticism of mechanistic atheism is for deluding 40 years worth of university anthropology with assurances of the authenticity of the Piltdown Man or the esults of the Stalinist atheistic state or Liberte, Egalitie, Fraternitie for that matter.
    The most every problem which plagues the modern Church does so mostly due to a lack of learning the finer salient details of God’s plan. This is a lack of zeal to take pastoral responsibility at the very highest levels and is the fulfillment of a prophecy which warned listerers in the Aposles’ times that as time passed that as more time passed since the Savior’s sacrifice there would be “a cooling off of love of the greater number of people…” and that this would occur inside the church also. Since a church can only draw it’s members from the secular societyin which it operates and since 1960 in that United States at least atheism started to get more institutionalized in the government and therefore secular culture in fulfillment of the prophecy. In spite of this dimuition in the same breath the Church is encouraged to “yet persevere and ye shall gain heaven” because God did endow humanity with the ability to reason and perceive and obey moral laws which temper our nature.

  18. 36 Ronald Almeida
    November 7, 2009 at 16:59

    Is the Catholic church a force for good in the world ? Don’t make me laugh ! Was it ever one ?

  19. 37 Patrick
    November 7, 2009 at 17:03

    What hope did you give the catholic church to win this debate when you choose as champions a black priest and a fat woman

    • 38 Vicki
      November 12, 2009 at 22:02

      Excuse me? What difference does it make, exactly, how much someone weighs or what their skin color is in a debate? If this sort of commentary is what we can expect from the average Catholic, no wonder the Church is in such a mess.

      Of course, if they simply stuck to the Bible, and got rid of man-made nonsense like Purgatory, papal infallibility (one of the most ridiculous ideas I’ve heard in ages–no man (or woman) is infallible. None.), clerical abstinence (a fat lot of good THAT one does), and the positive host of people and saints trying to get between a person and his/her God, they might not forever be coming under fire for the stupidity of man.

      You can speak with your God any time you like, and you don’t have to drown in dogma and ritual to do it, folks. Regardless of what the Pope thinks. And that’s another thing: how flippin’ arrogant is it to tell someone they no longer have the privilege of speaking with God? Which is exactly what they’re doing when they excommunicate someone. In my not-so-humble opinion, excommunicants ought to be celebrating their new-found freedom to think as they please and worship how they like.

      • 39 Bernard Simoes
        November 15, 2009 at 17:50

        Are you so ignorant that you think that Purgatory doesn’t exist? You call yourself a Catholic? You have no right to do so!!!

    November 7, 2009 at 17:06

    One point needs to be remembered. The Catholic Church is here to represent God and his beliefs; NOT to adapt to the changing World environment. It represents and thereby enforces the Ten Commandents. A modernizing Catholic Church is changing the absolute reason for the Church.

    • 41 Bernard Simoes
      November 15, 2009 at 17:53

      I couldn’t agree with you more…

      Just because everyone is going with the flow like dead bodies doesn’t mean that the Catholic Church should follow. It is a living body…& it goes against the flow of the evils of the modern world. TOWARDS GOD.

  21. 42 wendy keller
    November 7, 2009 at 17:11

    Thank you for making the information public. I have travelled in over 60 countries
    and have seen firsthand what uncontrolled breeding is –
    why send food for the starving we need condoms – it is possible to feed 2 children
    far more easily than 6 + as in many countries in Africa, etc.
    Try a holiday in Shanghai and other chinese cities to see what the future is going to
    be or even the Sahara.
    Keep up the good work please.
    How will we control terrorists if we keep breeding millions of uneducated half starved children.
    The future is now.

  22. 43 M N Corbett
    November 7, 2009 at 17:21

    I regret not being able to go along with Catholic thinking on Birth Control. People are starving in many countries, and yet they have more and more children. World population is reaching dangerous levels, so are we to exhaust our planet’s resources, just for a dogma?
    The regime in China might not be an ideal one, but perhaps they have population control right.

    • 44 Bernard Simoes
      November 15, 2009 at 17:58

      Firstly, if you know anything about China you will know how they are struggling with their overaging population. So much for ‘family planning’.

      Secondly, people starving in so many countries is NOT because of lack of food resources. There is NO shortage of resources. The shortage of resources is a MYTH perpetrated by the west to satisfy their un-bridled GREED. Don’t be taken into that idea.

      Population levels are not reaching dagerous levels. Do some research before you type next time…

      • 45 Vicki
        November 17, 2009 at 16:29

        Perhaps you should do some research yourself, my friend.

        And while you’re at it, go and tell all the starving people that it’s a myth–they’re really NOT starving, there’s plenty to be had. I’m sure none of them really are dying from AIDS, either, right?

        What color is the sky on your planet, anyway?

  23. 46 Robert Marino
    November 7, 2009 at 17:25

    Good for the anti’s! The church was properly exposed and skewered. The most awful indictment concerns the thousands of Africans dieing due to the church’s condemnation of condoms and family planning. If that were not immoral enough, they are telling people that condoms INCREASE CHANCES OF CONTRACTING HIV. People spreading this propaganda should be brought before the World Court for prosecution..

  24. 47 Sister Claire-Marie Jeannotat
    November 7, 2009 at 17:44

    as a missionary in southern africa for my whole working life, yes, I believe the hierarchical catholic church has, and is betraying its founder: Jesus.
    Idem in Europe from where I am now. The church “people of God” lives and suffers and renews itself at grassroots. Many prophetic theologians, marginalized the the autorities, belong to the grassroots.

  25. 48 Anthony Masitsa
    November 7, 2009 at 18:47

    The catholic church is becoming prejudiced on critical issues in the contemporary society thus compromising its relevance.

  26. November 7, 2009 at 19:24

    Watching the concluding comments on the debate , I agree with the Bishop , that the original question “Is The Catholic Church A Force for Good ” is what was asked to be answered .
    It seemed that to say yes to that question meant to some, agreeing to discrimation against homosexuals. That is a different question .
    Good comes from many and diverse places , and sometimes one person’s or group’s idea of how to best archive good and even what is good is , is wide and varied .
    But Yes to the question asked . I do think that the Catholic Church is a force for good.

    New Zealand

  27. 50 Josiah Soap
    November 7, 2009 at 19:35

    Although all religions (in the eyes of some people) have their faults, basically Christianity tries to instill goodness and caring and compasion in their followers. These days you would think the opposite was true. In this PC world things get twisted around, hence the need to even debate the topic. I am sure people who are against the Catholic church will lambast it as evil. Thats fine, its free speech. But try swapping Catholic for the word Muslim/Gay/Black and see the PC leftie lunatics that crawl out of the woodwork screaming bigot or hater to anyone even dares think, let alone debate such a topic. I am not religious but am tired of this warped double standard way of looking at the world.

  28. 51 John
    November 7, 2009 at 21:57

    I wish Michael Coren was invited. As he is an English Catholic. The arguments by the atheists, particulary the historical ones were deeply flawed. I wish they would have invited better speakers from the Catholic side though.

    The condoms argument and appeal to the situation in Uganda is hysterial. Catholic countries in Africa have lower HIV rates than Protestant ones, where condoms are promoted. Additionally Harvard University has conducted studies that prove that the condoms programs in Africa are spreading HIV not reducing it. Uganda was a success because it promoted faithfulness NOT condoms.

    People never research their anti catholic claims. Just google “Harvard study proves Pope Right on Condoms”

  29. 52 Beth Ross
    November 7, 2009 at 22:06

    I was baptized as an infant, but have never followed any organized faith. It became apparent to me as a young child that these religions often forced us to behave in ways that all children know is inherently wrong.

    As a full-grown woman, I have never looked back on this decision. I have in fact refinded it. I am still a decent, hardworking, compassionate, and most importantly tolerant member of Canadian society and will be the first to listen to someone’s story before I condemn them for their actions. I believe that the Catholic Church, indeed all major religions, are a force for good in the world as long as they are the most powerfully loving entity an individual is exposed to in his or her daily life. Hence, the majority of followers being desperately poor, unhealthy, and living in dangerous regions globally.

    I believe, however, that no one needs to be told how to be a good person. We don’t need guidelines to know what is right and what is wrong. As long as we, each citizen of this earth, make a daily and conscious decision to ‘do the right thing’ and to ‘help thy neighbour,’ THAT is the main source for good in the world; not a misrepresentation (indeed, bastardization) of a carpenter’s words two housand years on.

  30. 53 Gareth Valentine
    November 7, 2009 at 22:07

    I have been for many years an active member of the Church of England. I am a gay man. Increasingly, I have found it nigh impossible to reconcile my sexuality and sense of enlightenment and freedom with the sways of the Roman and Anglo-Catholic churches.
    Intellectually and viscerally I cannot in all conscience subscribe to the view that the Catholic church is a force for good in the world. It pains me to say such a thing (I can imagine the fallout of early Darwinism on the devout), but this is the pain of a tooth extracted, a headache assuaged – everything becomes SO much better.

  31. 54 maria stella todesco
    November 7, 2009 at 22:28

    Christ was a force for good and people crucified him.
    Christians are a force for good and they are still crucified.
    All the cristian churches are a force for good and they work together for this, especially in Africa.
    You should ask people there: condoms are not the solution to their problems and what the Catholics think about omosexuality it’s not something they really care.
    What they see are christians, and a big percentage of these are Catholics, sharing they life.
    Catholics are a force for good just because they live everyone else life, they share their lifes: problems and joys. They are everywhere: prisons, orphanages. armies, parties, schools, factories…. and they don’t mind make their hands dirty.
    Of course the bad ones fill your news, but most of them are really good and they never appear on your tv programs.
    Maria Stella Todesco, Milan, Italy

  32. 55 Kevin PE
    November 7, 2009 at 23:27

    In reference to my previous post, to be fair I have not seen the show and therefore my criticism of its format may be at fault, however I remain opposed to the obvious agenda.

  33. November 8, 2009 at 00:24

    The bloody Roman Catholic Cult is the Babylonian Mystery religion in “Christian” drag! Any good they might do is merely meant to disarm and deceive the masses. They were and remain a wolf in sheep’s clothing folks would do well to beware.

  34. 57 Kindi Jallow
    November 8, 2009 at 00:30

    Both religion Christianiy and Muslim religions preach morality, peace, tolerance ect but some people use religion as political tool for their own aganda. Thus creating confusion, mayhem etc. Is religion failing to bring people together as one or should the people allow themselves to be blindly divided along such lines?

  35. November 8, 2009 at 03:10

    I found the debate on Catholicism extremely interesting and I thank whoever had the idea to make the debate and broadcast it.

    I would have welcomed a chance to vote myself – I would have voted against the notion that Catholicism is a force of good in the world, both before and after the debate.

    I have for a long time considered Religious fanaticism to be a great evil in the world. And I consider both Judaism, Catholicism and Islam to be fascist religions with no regard for nature.

    A conversation with the supernatural and nature should be a personal thing for everybody and not a dogmatic male chauvinist know it all affair.

    Religious dogmatism has been one of the greatest evils in the world for centuries, but I think that even though islamism seems to be one of the very great threats in the world at the moment. Nothing tops the evil of the Catholic church during the ages before this one, and they are still at it with their hate and perverted look at sex in general.

    What does the Archbishop think Jesus would think about him in his pink bonnet, pink silk stockings and carnival like wardrobe? Does he think Jesus would be impressed?

  36. 59 Joseph
    November 8, 2009 at 04:12

    A lot of good but it is not perfect of course. Very often attitude towards catholic church is to show all bad like child abuse and others and totally ignore the good. It seems to be in fashion at the moment, it is an easy target and a very popular target. There is a lot of good and sacrificing work but having that on the front page of a newspaper wouldnt sell as well as child abuse so we dont know that unless we make an effort and find that information ourselves.

  37. 60 Gerard
    November 8, 2009 at 09:26

    I think it was a poorly managed debate..well below the standard of the Doha debate..some of the arguments were very shallow in addressing an institution that has been there for about 2000 years..It was more of a reflection of individual relativism trying to be propagated by discussing the titillating tit bits and leaving out the substance.

  38. 61 Julian
    November 8, 2009 at 09:44

    The Archbishop, it seems to me, was the only one of the four speakers who responded correctly. Sadly, it wasn’t until his closing remarks at the end of the debate that he made the point that, along with many other organisations, the Catholic Church IS a force for good in the world.
    Messrs Hitchin and Fry, with good intentions I’m sure, dwelt upon all the evils that Catholicism has engaged in over the centuries and continues to promote today. Ms Widdicombe fell into the trap of responding directly to Hitchin’s comments.
    There can be no denying that the Catholic church with its history of terror, torture and idiological enforcement has also done many good things. But then the same may (perhaps) be said of any number of organisations – how about the Greek and Roman Empires, Islam, the Pharaohs or the Mayans?

  39. 62 Brian D. Ladr (Seoul, S. Korea)
    November 8, 2009 at 09:55

    I am a straight, Protestant Christian believer (and will be for the rest of my natural life), so I didn’t want the Church to come out of this looking bad. However, Christopher Hitchins and Stephen Frye offered far and away the more forceful position. The Roman Catholic Church, led autocratically by an ostensibly infallible human being, is exceedingly vulnerable because it has so much for which it needs to apologize: they’ve already admitted they should’nt have persecuted Galileo. If they and the planet last long enough, the day will also come when they apologize for denegrating and victimizing our homosexual sisters and brothers. So much for infallibility and many of the other momentous pronouncements that have been made as a result of it!

  40. 63 teobesta
    November 8, 2009 at 10:22

    i’m impatient for this episode of whys
    i do wish that there was a way to watch this debate online first though
    all my research for the past 2 weeks has led nowhere so far
    i’d really appreciate any leads/links

  41. 64 george. lee.
    November 8, 2009 at 12:06

    I do not think the catholic church is is a force for good in the world if you look around you will find most wars and confrontations are basicly religion oriented .

  42. 65 scmehta
    November 8, 2009 at 13:14

    Any force, that prevails to have a following any where in the world, is as good or as bad as it gets; and whatever good or bad it gets is through its disciplinary, ethical/moral and conscientious conduct contributed by all its constituents. The Catholic Church definitely IS a force for good of the world, provided its influence and image is not allowed to be tarnished or ruined by some of its unscrupulous and immoral insiders.

  43. 66 Dinka Aliap Chawul-Kampala,Uganda
    November 8, 2009 at 13:22

    Absolutely corrects,Catholic’s Church is a force for change,peace,unity but equality in her is not 100% because, why Pope always come from Rome yet the Church is a multi-cultural,racial with various languages World Wide?

  44. November 8, 2009 at 13:32

    It would be too general to say it is a good or bad force in the world. As all religions and branches of Christianity, Catholicism has good fundamentals and in essences promotes good for humans. The institution, the Church, can alter this vision and use it for its own purposes. But let’s not say it is all a conspiracy of a few folks trying gain as much for them, for it maybe also the example if other religions and its heads, for example the division in the early stages of Islam.
    In the end it comes down, that religion guidelines promote good in theory, but in the end we are humans and are easily “tempted”. When one has so much power as the church it can be easy to blame all major historic events on them.
    In the billions of people there has to be some that do believe the church is a good force. Numbers can be deceiving and are to by est to give a definite response over the good/bad debate.
    Numbers are and will be forever, just a statistic.
    What is good or bad for someone is a question of values and interpretation.

  45. 68 Steve Westwood
    November 8, 2009 at 14:17

    I think UN tanks should be parked up in front of St Peter’s. The modern statehood of the Roman Catholic Church was acquired in a grotty deal with Benito Mussolini (so much for the Church’s anti-fascist credentials). We rightly reject the claims of other religions to statehood, but overlook the aberration in the Vatican. It’s absurd for Catholics to preach about the evils of theocracy to Muslims and Jews while the Roman Catholic Church has this wholly illegitimate statehood and interferes in the affairs of other states – e.g. Ireland and Poland – with impunity.

    The Church should flog off the Vatican, relocate to Africa and spend the surplus on condoms for the faithful – except that the whole prohibition on contraception is part of a sick game to breed ever more millions of poverty stricken Catholics, now that those of Europe have cottoned on and fertility rates crashed.

    Rant over.

    BTW I am an agnostic, not an atheist. Agnostics admit that they don’t know – the only really scientific stance to take, Mr Dawkins 🙂

  46. 69 RoyS
    November 8, 2009 at 16:46

    Is the “Church of Scientology” a force for good? Is militant Wahabism a force for good? Of course not.

    Propagating atavistic nonsense (virgin births; celibacy of the priesthood; an insane, vicious, eschatology – to name but a few examples amongst the plethora available) benefits no-one. I’d go so far as to say that the Catholic Church, although not alone in this by any means, is an enemy of mankind. Not least because in a world where the No.1 problem – upstream of all considerations about ecological catastrophe, global warming etc – is POPULATION GROWTH… well, does this need any amplification?

    When I see Pope Maledict infecting third-world countries suffering from uncontrolled population growth and spiralling AIDS infections with his utterly insane notions about sex (something of which he has NO experience whatsoever, except in theory) I’m afraid my blood simply boils.

    It’s remarkable that in a world where there is near-universal ridicule about Islamic fairy stories involving unlimited supplies of perma-virgins, the equally nonsensical dogma of the Catholic Church is treated as deserving respect. It’s an oppressive cult, like countless others and the sooner it’s consigned to a footnote in the history of infamy, the better.

  47. 70 RoyS
    November 8, 2009 at 16:54

    ““If I didn’t believe that the Catholic Church is a force for good,” said the Archbishop, “ I would not devote my whole life to working in that institution.””

    QED, Archbishop.
    This level of “logic” is about what one might expect from them.
    Substitute the words “Adolf Hitler” for “the Catholic Church” and you would have Albert Speer’s position, precisely. Before Nuremburg anyway.

  48. 71 Brian Burleigh
    November 8, 2009 at 17:10

    If there is ANY doubt that arguments can be made against the morality and societal necessity of the Catholic Church, let them rest now. Stephen and Christopher *destroyed* this so-called debate and turned it into a one-sided pummeling I was grateful to have been able to witness. You want proof the Catholic Church hasn’t done humanity any good? THE DARK AGES. In fact, it was far longer than that – the bloody church strangled free and scientific thought for more than a thousand years until Galileo put his life up for it. Can you imagine where we would be scientifically, technologically, medically, and socially if that hadn’t happened? No, my friend, I cannot either, because IT DID. For every death because of their ignorance, they owe humanity and they will hardly be able to repay a thousand years of lost humanity.

    • 72 james from vancouver Canada
      November 10, 2009 at 04:29

      Brian…….Please refer to my posting and you will see that we argue from the same position. Kudos for your commentary. Well done!

  49. 73 Julia in Portland
    November 8, 2009 at 19:19

    I believe the Catholic Church is a source of power, money and control…..but not necessarily a force for good. It is one of the wealthiest businesses in the world.

    I do know some Catholics who are much more the embodiment of what the church is supposed to represent than the church does itself. I think that the church has failed to be what it claims.

    Being raised Catholic and growing to see what the church really does and says I no longer ascribe to its doctrines.

    This does not mean that I think all Catholics are a source of the problem, on the contrary, many, many, many do extremely good works and are very sincere and altruistic. I just do not believe the church is.

  50. 74 Perry
    November 8, 2009 at 19:38

    Nothing is black or white. The Church has done much good, while at the same time it has hurt or destroyed the lives of millions of people all around the world.

    Would the world be a better place had the Church never existed? We can never know, but certainly many hundreds of thousands of lives would not have been lost, (many by being burned alive, crucified, etc.) and the Church’s brand of “guilt” would not have been instilled into millions more. Has the Church helped people? Well, it has given many people the strength to endure the unendurable, which is not a small thing. But it has caused many millions of others to remain passive in the face of persecution, in expectation of “a better life to come”.

    Would these millions have had a better life on earth without the promise of an “everlasting life in kingdom come”? Again, we can never know, but certainly many would have lived better lives here on earth if they had not been filled with (possibly false?) hopes for a better future in a dubious “life to come”, but, instead, had taken steps while here on earth to better their lives.


  51. November 8, 2009 at 21:36

    I am looking forward to see if BBC will follow up with a similar debate on islam. I am guessing they wont.

    • 76 gary
      November 13, 2009 at 15:06

      Yes, I agree this would be an excellent topic for debate. I think all respondents would wish to hear and participate.

  52. 77 lorna penrice
    November 8, 2009 at 22:09

    I have just seen your program on bbcworld. I would like to comment on some of the audience’s comments on the 10 commandments as a moral guidline for life.
    I would like to add that there are many christians that follow that moral guide that are not roman catholic, and to say that all christians that do work with the poor and needy do a lot of good in the world. However, I do agree that the catholic ruling on condoms and birth control is a huge issue to the health of many who feel it is a sin to go against the dogma of the catholic church, and do not know any better.
    I enjoyed the debate but felt it left many unanswered questions and it was a little frustrating that some of the questions that were asked not answered directly.
    thank you

  53. 78 Abram
    November 9, 2009 at 03:44

    The discussion was one-sided — and the audience and the host were selectively invited to bash the Catholic Church and Christianity. Christopher Hitchens was asked whether he was only against the Catholic Church or any other Religions. He was unable to give a clear and confident answer. It looked as though he was afraid of saying something against Islam. Anyways, I will be surprised if the BBC broadcasts similar debate under the title: “Is Islam a force for good in the world?”

    November 9, 2009 at 07:53

    Good? Are you joking?!

    I can’t tell you how shocked I am about this, but I actually agree with the right wing “Bush Defender” Christopher Hitchens on this 100%.

    They thrive on keeping people poor and ignorant to increase their power over their flock. They encourage large families so they can then ensure they have their followers of the future. Meanwhile their modest leader sits on a throne with a CITY for a palace.

    Hopefully they will become bankrupt by defending pervert priests in litagation suits in courts all over the world.

    Who new Lawyers could be a force for good?:(

  55. 80 chering
    November 9, 2009 at 07:58

    I saw the debate-
    Mr Stephen Fry was scathing in his arguement.
    I am not a catholic! mind you but at the end of the debate,there was no peace reflected in the faces of the victors-strange, don’t you think?

  56. 81 ton danenberg
    November 9, 2009 at 10:05

    I watched the program twice. I could agree with Mr Hitchens and with Mr. Fry as I too deeply disagree with certain policies, so-called doctrines and practices in in the Catholic church at present. I disagree strongly with Anne Widdecombe who according to my information has objected against the lifting of the ban on gay rights. Yet, I am a Catholic and I do feel that the Catholic church is a force for good in the world. There is much more to the Catholic church than the Debate was able to express. It was a sad experience to see that a Debate like this was not able to capture the richness of what Catholic faith and tradition mean.
    With Mr. Fry I acknowledge the gains of the Enlightenment, but with the British theologian Nicholas Lash I also have to say, that after Kolyma and Auschwitz it is hard to trust with great confidence the Enlightenment project. There is indeed more to life than there is in ‘your philosophy’. Yet, also the Catholic church has become too defensive and traditional in its response to the great issues of our times.

    The easy and drastic shift in the response of the audience in the end was to me not very convincing.

    The BBC has done something great in holding this Debate, but the debate itself also demonstrated how difficult it is to bring these complex and sensitive matters in the domain of the public debate.

    Ton Danenberg, Tagaytay City, Philippines

  57. 82 Moeka From Freetown
    November 9, 2009 at 12:02

    Stephen you are right !! You have my 100% appoval on that.

  58. 83 Nigel
    November 9, 2009 at 12:16

    Remember that many of the “righties” posting here are fundamentalist non-Cathlolic Christian believers who see the themselves as David and the RC Chrurch as Goliath. They also see them as a target for conversion as they do the Muslims so don’t expect anything positive even where it exist in the real world. The RCs really do need a new Pope though.

  59. 84 NSC London
    November 9, 2009 at 12:20

    Excellent debate from the BBC, really enjoyed this one. I find very little evidence to suggest the Catholic Church is a force for good in the world, and as for speaking out against the Nazis, does it really matter when you’re funding them? Catholics themselves are often a force for good in the world but I suspect these people would be “good” with or without religion.

    Whoever suggested this as a topic for debate is completely right: “Is Islam a force for good in the world?”

    It seems pretty easy for the Beeb to take shots at Christianity these but when it comes to Islam suddenly the organisation is a lot more forgiving. Last night’s kid-glove handling of Islam’s effect on Europe in the middle ages reeked of dhimmi servitude.

  60. 85 Jane Udeh
    November 9, 2009 at 12:30

    My reply to this say, is that Catholic as a whole is God Ordained Church. So, the catholic church is good if only those in it can show good example by been good too.


  61. 86 emmanuel
    November 9, 2009 at 13:49

    Basically,the debate was not fully axausted,and it appears to me that even though in cases like this there is bound to be a “winner”,the topic was basically misconstrued.As it were the catholic church as an entity has traditionally been a force for good to the world.,
    Just like every other church or organisation in the world,the ability to appreciate flaws is indispencibe,

  62. 87 Kevin PE
    November 9, 2009 at 14:40

    Wait didn’t I read here the other day that the Church MUST keep out of politics – sorry, can’t interfere with Nazi policies. O its OK when it suits you?
    The terrible crusades? – Gee what was the invasion of South Africa, various other African countries, India, The Middle East, etc during the wonderful “British Empire” all about then? Ask the fellows in Iraq, Afghanistan and a nervous Iran what they think today. The church never ordered any of these gross human rights violations. Criticize with the intention of changing for the better, or remove the beam from your own eye.

  63. 88 Peter_scliu
    November 9, 2009 at 21:40

    Humans are the only animals that are sophisticatedly corrupt because like ve rebel against the order of thing. A vegetarian by nature they started to kill to eat flesh. The catholic church has to be a reference to agree how far we can go. Religion without a reference likely to end up creating mayhem.

    November 10, 2009 at 03:40

    Good? Are you joking?!

    I can’t tell you how shocked I am about this, but I actually agree with the right wing “Bush Defender” Christopher Hitchens on this 100%.

    They thrive on keeping people poor and ignorant to increase their power over their flock. They encourage large families so they can then ensure they have their followers of the future. Meanwhile their modest leader sits on a throne with a CITY for a palace.

  65. 90 Mitchell Tan
    November 10, 2009 at 09:33

    It was interesting to see how the Archbishop and the MP did not directly answer questions regarding the use of condoms or homosexuality.

    On the former issue Hitchens and Fry seem to assume that condoms without question improve the AIDS situation. While this may be the intuitive conclusion many reach, and i myself have reached before, it is not as clear as it seems. Though it may appear obvious that people using condoms do not spread the HIV virus thus reducing the rate of infection, some scientists, such as Edward C. Green (see http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/27/AR2009032702825.html), posit that condom use actually may cause an increase in infection rates because when people use condoms and are told that they are “safe” from spread of the disease, they tend to engage in more sexual activity and tend to be less careful after a while with the use of condoms during sexual intercourse.

    Though it seems intuitively logical that discouraging or as Hitchen’s put it, “condemning” the use of condoms results in lives being lost, the science suggests that at the very least, effect of the encouragement of use or discouragement of use on the contraction of HIV AIDS is not-definitively positive or negative. It may well be the case that the Catholic Church’s public policy is based on doctrinal truths as much as it is on empirical truths. In that case (if Edward C. Green has a valid scientific point), then surely a self-professed (and somewhat arrogant, i must say) “enlightenment” and “empiricist” Stephen Fry must reconsider his brave outright and unreserved criticism of the catholic church’s policy in this specific area

    • November 13, 2009 at 14:26

      I work for an AIDS service office, and I can attest in pure numbers that condoms do indeed halt the spread of HIV/AIDS. Look at the alarming statistics that, at least in this area, the highest growing at risk category of infection is among post menopausal women and men of comparable age, because they thought that being beyond child bearing age condoms were unnecessary. The use of condoms AT THE LEAST keep the rates of infection stable, but if they are discouraged altogether the infection rate would skyrocket to epidemic and uncontrollable proportions. The Church teaches that condoms are sinful and HELP SPREAD AIDS? Well, this from an organization that took over 375 years to admit that Galileo was right after all and the Earth is indeed not the center of the Universe.
      My best friend is the world is an adherent Catholic and one of the best people that I’ve ever met as far as her heart and love of her fellow man (human). She is a perfect example of my belief that while the vast majority of Catholics are indeed good people who genuinely care about all of humanity, at least altruistically, the Church itself has not stopped in its evil actions for 2000 years. It is Rome, and it will one day fall with many of us cheering in celebration!

  66. 92 Nengak (Abuja, Nigeria)
    November 10, 2009 at 13:58

    I do think this question should not be asked on the same day WHYS is discussing whether Christianity can co-exist with Islam.

  67. November 10, 2009 at 14:13

    How can a religion that forces women throughout the world by indoctrination to have unwanted babies, and therefore add to the woes of the poorest countries, increase starvation and sexually transmitted diseases. Forces women who wish to serve the church to suppress natural human feelings and desires under the guise of sins of the flesh. Forces the male species to become celibate without concern for the psychological affect it has or the ability of man to suppress these feelings leading to dispicable acts of forced sex against those most trusting children. Sodomy/Homosexuality seems to be rife throughout the church and although not publ;icly condoned, in private one has to question the morals of officianado’s for it seems it is only when it is made or is about to be made public the church comes forward. The catholic church appears to stuck with it’s medieval teachings I do not feel it is a religion I could trust

  68. 94 viola
    November 10, 2009 at 15:37

    Insofar as the Catholic church serves as a “family” to its members, yes it is a force for good. It is, just as a family consisting of parents, children and extended family is a force for good even though there may be members of that family that abuse children, dislike homosexuality, punish children that disobey the rules, and assure their young ones that there is, indeed, a Santa Claus.

  69. 95 George Williams Bangirana
    November 10, 2009 at 16:30

    Lets get this in context:
    IN some areas Yes; Building schools, hospitals, care for the elderly, and possibly being the only faith that speaks for the common man against the Ugandan Government. To me that’s where the good ends and the Bad
    Child molestation scandals, being partisan, being too rigid, inexplicable belief in the infallibility of the dogma and the pope, only hiring catholics in secular places,
    I could go on.
    I grew up with ma catholic granny, and have lots of catholic friends…. But I would take the statement witha pinch of salt.

  70. 96 gary
    November 10, 2009 at 16:49

    The Catholic Church has always tried, as many faiths have, to do the “proper” things. Unfortunately, while thoughts and deeds may be in error, people are harmed by erroneously motivated deeds and the Church has been “doing” a long time. I think by now the net effect on the world is about neutral.

  71. 97 Alan in Arizona
    November 10, 2009 at 17:36

    I think all religion mean to do good. Unfortunately just about everyone has had their dark times when obviously evil actions were condoned in the name of good. I’ve gotten to the point in life where you realize that anyone asking you for money is asking you to help influence someone else. Government, Religious or NGO. They are all the same but with different goals. Some are good and some are bad. All of them think they are doing the right thing. Are they?

  72. 98 Elias
    November 10, 2009 at 19:06

    The catholic church needs to reform itself to present day standards and not continue their hundreds of years old traditions and religious guide lines. It lives way out in the past where knowledge was limited and superstitions prevailed.
    There are several examples that is not acceptable to modern day living.

  73. November 10, 2009 at 19:53

    re: Is the Catholic Church a force for good?

    I am reminded of a debate in New York sponsored by The Economist Magazine (2007) on a the related topic: “Religion and Politics should always be kept seperate” in which my late friend, Fr. Richard Neuhaus bested his opponents. Here is a link to a text article which summarizes RJN’s argument:


    A biographical article on Fr. Neuhaus can be found at the following site:


    Fr. Tim Moyle
    Mattawa, Ontario, Canada

  74. 101 Tom D Ford
    November 10, 2009 at 20:13

    “Is the Catholic Church a force for good?”

    On balance, no.

    Teaching children that there is some supernatural being is like amputating a childs’ legs so you can feel good about giving them a wheelchair to ride in.

    It is better to reinforce the legs they were born with so that they can stand on their own and face and deal with reality with courage.

    No Religion balances out as a force for good in the world.

  75. 102 NSC London
    November 10, 2009 at 20:27

    Nengak wrote: “I do think this question should not be asked on the same day WHYS is discussing whether Christianity can co-exist with Islam.”

    This person makes an excellent point, it would be great to see what the WHYS staff think about this statement.

  76. November 10, 2009 at 20:47

    The Abrahamic faiths are not a force for good. Other religions too, but I’m not familiar enough with them all to generalise this statement to all religions.

    However, lets assume that all religions are morally neutral. If that’s the starting point, is the Catholic Church, a force for good?

    Historically they have been a force of evil (crusades, slavery, torture, burnings). Presently, they are improved (anti-war, anti-torture, pro-environment), due to societal trends. The system though is still loaded in favour of evil, in that it is structured to enable evil to flourish. It is inherently anti-science. It is inherently anti-non-Catholic. And most dangerously, it is inherently convinced of its righteousness.

    But back in the real world, they are clearly not a force for good, as it is a dogmatic religion with morality not determined by thought and reason, but by hierarchy, historical precedent and mythology. Something they share with the rest of Christianity, and also Judaism and Islam (although with Islam, hierarchy doesn’t apply as much). There are many examples of good that the Catholic Church has done. But the system is deeply flawed.

  77. 104 Eileen in Virginia
    November 10, 2009 at 21:05

    I was raised a Catholic but lost my faith despite my reluctance to do so. I thought it was a force for good, until I considered the following: Historically the Inquisition, and the holy wars for power and influence; Papal Infallibility (even the Borgias?), then the Pope’s Encyclical about banning contraceptives. Being told it was OK to take the pill to make one’s menstral cycle regular, but not to control one’s fertility. The requirement to believe all the church’s dogma developed over the centuries, often for profit, such as selling indulgencies. It was OK to eat meat on Fridays in Spain because the Spanish had supported the Pope in a battle some centuries before (that will be 100 pesetas please). Original sin in babies…The congregation’s deference towards Catholic priests who were often ignorant and illogical. The astounding hypocrisy of the hierarchy. The original reason that priests are required to be celebate: it was an expense too far for the church to support their wives and children. The intolerance of homosexuality. Children routinely abused in Ireland by predatory priests, and unwed mothers being incarcerated and bullied by sadistic nuns. The huge emphasis on raising money for the church. Plaster statues of the Virgin in Spain draped with jewels while the people went hungry. The realisation that money in the collection plate went to pay fines for the widespread abuse. The refusal of an abortion for an Irish child who was pregnant by her father. The monstrous wealth of the Vatican in contrast to the poverty of hungry populations…..The wielding of power by the upper echelons…..the lack of compassion for families too large to care for. Seven million street children in Brazil alone….

    But this is the straw that broke my camel’s back: watching a documentary on TV about a couple living in a mud hut somewhere in South America , the only furniture a stool and a cooking pot, when the woman said ‘Yes, we had twelve children, but God is good because four of them died.’

  78. 105 Tom K in Mpls
    November 10, 2009 at 21:43

    “Hell is full of good intentions or desires.”
    -St Bernard 12th C.

    So is the Catholic Church. Or maybe they are just lying. Either way I like the correlation.

  79. 106 GEORGE LATO
    November 10, 2009 at 22:44

    Christopher Hitchens should avoid ever travelling to Damascus!

    The same thing might happen to him as that other guy Saul, who was a strong and very active anti-Christian two thousand years ago!

    On the way, Jesus Christ appeared to him and asked him why he persecuted him. The rest is history. Saul became Paul, one of the greatest saints Christianity has ever had, and two thousand years later his words still echo around the world!

    Go on Chris, just think about it!

  80. 107 Ash
    November 10, 2009 at 23:40

    I am or now was, a regular viewer, but for the first time my trust in the BBC has become very badly dented with their discussion about the Catholic Church in the past 24 hours.

    What I saw was a very badly planned discussion programme that reflected views of ‘effete snobs’ of London who have glossed over the history of the world let alone history of Christianity, never mind other cultures of the world and how the church is perceived elsewhere. The BBC has stuffed up royally in my view!

    I believe the question should have been put to scholarly people with backgrounds in religion, development, sociology, not that ragtag bunch of reactionaries to history who judge history by today’s events, issues, mores and values.

    The BBC has, in my view, drastically lowered its standards, and I for one will never again trust its discussion programmes.

    As Catholicism is the flagship and vanguard of Christianity, could the BBC have been pandering to another world of frustrated believers and in doing so, trying to find some lowest common denominator? If so, the BBC is playing politics with peoples’ faith traditions and must be admonished.

    Or could the BBC just be losing direction and purpose and just need a change of management? Maybe the advocates for pay-as-you-consume media are right! Better to pay for good value, even if at times we don’t agree! Free media can throw up free crap!

    • 108 Dora
      November 13, 2009 at 21:52

      I would like to know why your religion gets a ‘free pass’ and doesn’t deserve to be questioned and examined like all other world views? Why any religion/opinion does for that matter.

  81. 109 Dion Fernandes
    November 11, 2009 at 05:36

    It’s nothing new, the attack on the Catholic Church: Christ himself faced this kind of opposition and was crucified for it. So, it should have been expected that Mr Fry and the other guy along with the audience would have a field day. In fact it happened even in Jesus’ day that His own followers turned away (Read John Chapter 6).
    Catholics are not answerable to the rest of the world for their actions, they, like all of the rest, are answerable to God. If the audience member commented on the Word being eternal- we maintain it is. As more and more of the truth is revealed to the World, the more of the truth we shall know. Catholics, like all human beings are not spared from the attacks from Satan- in fact it is well known that the harder you try to be close to God, the stronger the demonic attacks. The “black Bishop and the fat woman” did a fine job of defending the Church, after all it is not their primary concern, unlike the smug buffoons who were on the attack.
    Atheists really shouldn’t bother commenting on this issue- they believe that they themselves are God and are in charge of their own pitiful universe. They probably even write their own version of the Bible.
    I keep wondering how authentic the so called “vote” supposedly was, but at the end of the day it just doesn’t really matter.

    • 110 Dora
      November 13, 2009 at 21:55

      Well if god or satan would like to put in an appearance and tell us whose side they are on it would be very helpful…..
      Oh wait………………..

  82. 111 OHISA JAMES
    November 11, 2009 at 07:41

    No. There has never been anything good out of the catholic church though they cloth their tyranny in humanitarian works.They are the worst political and religious influencers of all time.They are the best example of double standards.They say this and do that. I therefore think they are a force of evil rather than good in the world considering their history.

  83. 112 subra
    November 11, 2009 at 11:19

    The best way to exploit the gullible masses is to wear the religious garb and you preach to the poor and and the sick. These people believe in miracles of all types.
    The religious leaders, with their superior intelligence,relate stories and live in luxury, enjoying the best of everything without sweating . With their false promises, they keep the ignorant and simpleton daydreaming for the after death paradise.
    People must understand that hell or heaven is on earth. If one works hard he can live a happy life in this world which is a wonderful place that has no equal in the limitless sky.
    How can a suicide bomber who reduces himself to mince meat go to heaven as they are made to believe?

  84. 113 David
    November 11, 2009 at 12:14

    With the history of the Catholic Church, it’s very evident that they have been a force for both good and evil, in certain ways. But so also has other denominations or religions. We might critisize the Catholic church for it’s wrong acts, but we should also not fail to praise the right things it has done. Although i certainly dislike their influence on government, which was strong in the past and still is in some countries whether it’s openly or not. The Catholic church needs to change a lot of things in thier doctrine, in no way giving in to atheists, but because some of the doctrines are not human. For example; the doctrine on Gay and on condoms. It’s absurd that in this age and time they would still propagate such beliefs. And the present Pope isn’t helping matters at all, his extreme conservatism is too much for such a Powerful position.

  85. 114 Guillermo
    November 11, 2009 at 22:18

    A good force in the sense of semantics would be something that has given humanity and the world itself a way of living in harmony and peace. The evils would be war and crime, that is destruction of humanity and the world itself.
    Then to speak of the catholic church is like viewing all the evil that was and is on humanity and the world. Every rule has an exception, and the exception would be some indiviuals, men and women, that are the opposite of the mischiefs of the catholic church. In general you have to read the stories of the Popes, which they say are the representants of God on Earth, and with this it would draw the evil of this Church. Idolatry, simonism, envy and the seven capital sins can be achieved through the history of the Roman Empire placed in the Vatican. Their tenet that they have the truth and they are the only Christians and that the Vicar of God placed by Christ is just a blasphemy for humanity. The jesuists have written the history of the so called Primitive Church and there they unveil many dogmas that their are not. When they are a minority they claim for justice. When they are majority they are brutal and merciless as the Inquisition when it was at its high power. They dress like medieaval people and that is something to think about. The Vatican is capitalistic as any transnational company. They have invested money in what makes them rich. To find something good is like a pin in a haystack.

  86. 115 Sreenivasan Ravichandran
    November 12, 2009 at 00:50

    I watched the debate and I feel the cause of the Catholic church was not well debated/projected by Archbishop of Abuja John Onaiyekan and Anne Widdecombe and they ignored some of the basic good deeds the Catholic Church had done for the developing world.

    Any well organized and successful religious system, which had been in existence several hundred years, is bound to be anachronistic with a lot of reluctance to reinvent itself to the changing times. For example, Islam too is one such religion caught in a time warp, and unable to come out of it. So too is Hinduism with its rigid caste system.

    Though there are several deeds committed in the past of which the Catholic church should have expressed regret and come out clean , one cannot forget the good work done by the church in the field of education, especially in my country, India, and South Asia in large. It has atoned for its sins, for gaging Galileo, by its act of spreading scientific knowledge in the developing world.

    The catholic church also played a crucial role, albeit a silent one, in bringing down communism by its activism in Eastern Europe.

    For every child molester the church has also produced men and women who have given their life for the betterment of the poor, sick and underprivileged.

    I am not a member of this church nor a Christian, but good things done by individuals/ organizations should seldom be forgotten.

  87. 118 Philip P. Smith
    November 12, 2009 at 17:18

    I am a Roman Catholic. I am a citizen of The Bahamas and I live in The Bahamas.
    I very much enjoyed the debate and felt that the nay side did in fact win the debate but unfortunately greatly at the expense of objectivity and, from my personal perspective, truth.
    The degree of rancor was unnecessary and lessened my opinion of Mr. Fry, whose career I have followed and admired. I have not followed the career of the other debaters and know nothing about them other than what I learned on viewing the debate.
    Any who wish to understand the Roman Catholic’s role in the community, from a family to continent wide efforts, only have to do a cursory study of the Church’s ‘Catholic Social Doctrine’ or ‘Catholic Social Teaching’. There Mr. Fray will clearly see that the Church does not preach a policy of anti-gay, instead it decries any discrimination against someone for any reason including sexual orientation.
    The Church does not apologize for its support of the historic concept of marriage and all matters related to this institution.
    The Church stands totally opposed to the abuse of any kind against any and especially against the most vulnerable, hence the many parish based outreach programmes in every country.
    Abuses by priests and other religious is wrong and cannot be excused but any objectivity would recognise that these are a small minority of the clergy made up of men and women who have given so much good to the world and continue to do so.
    The world would be a much less good place if it were not for the effort for almost two thousand years of the Catholic Church.
    On the matter of infallibility, again objective research would yield that it is claimed most infrequently and only on matter of faith- of concern to believers.
    I am proud and happy to be Roman Catholic.

  88. 119 sandesh
    November 12, 2009 at 17:19

    Belief is a good thing to have. But everyone should be able to decide what’s good for themselves. The institutionalization of belief is just a way of imposing authority. Of course, we need to educate people (I completely disagree with the definition of “education” that catholic church gives. I think education means making people able to decide which “education” they want.)but brainwashing them is just not the way.

  89. 120 Peter Michael White
    November 12, 2009 at 20:04

    Pitting two professional speakers against a non-native english speaker and a politician with a grating voice was the BBC’s idea of fairness? A classic stitch up.

  90. 121 Tom Willemsen
    November 12, 2009 at 21:06

    The wrong facilitator, the wrong people”for the motion” the wrong composition of the audience.
    I have lived in Tanzania for 23 years, in Trinidad for 20 years. The Catholic Church is a force for good. I have witnessed sisters as qualified doctors, working day and nigth withot salaries for the good of the people.
    When nobody cared through the ages the catholic church took care of the sick, the mentally challenged, the Aids patients etc. threough the ages.
    If you like it or not, the Catrholic sachools are still considered :Prestrige schools.
    Moreover the Church is not the Pope, but we the people of God
    As in colonial times the British were always trying to play down the role of the Church, as in politics the bbc tries to speak down on European unity.
    L’histoire se repete.

  91. 122 Jim from Hawaii
    November 13, 2009 at 01:23

    As an ex-Catholic who was educated in Catholic elementary and high schools I found the debate to reveal the Catholic Church is NOT a force for good in the world. Nor is any other religion. This is well pointed out in Bill Maher’s movie “Religulous”. I’ll end with a quote from his movie:
    “Religion is detrimental to the progress of humanity. It is selling an invisible product. It is shamelessly inventive. It means making a virtue out of not thinking. Those who preach religion and enable and elevate it are intellectual slave holders, keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense that has spawned and justified so much lunacy and destruction. If you belonged to a political party or a social club that was tied to as much bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, violence and shear ignorance as religion you would resign in protest”.

  92. 123 Alexie Wynne
    November 13, 2009 at 02:24

    I’m a catholic and enjoyed the debate. I have to say that the speakers on on nay side were quite forcefully in bringing forth their points, and was disappointed in the performance of the arch bishop and the politician. Put simply the debate was not balanced.

  93. 124 Gerry
    November 13, 2009 at 04:40

    Do not ever forget the driving force for this great church is their lust and greed for money, they are driven by it, they are a very large and powerfuul banking institution, no more no less.The billion followers are constantly being asked for their weekly donation. Do the math.

  94. 125 John Bosworth
    November 13, 2009 at 07:14

    The best programme on the BBC this year. The way in which rational, clear thinking can beat irrational superstition and ignorance was so clear it was no doubt a wake up call for a huge majority of the audience – the number of people changing from yea to nay and the undecided voting nay was inspirational.

    Only one problem; in the question to Christopher Hitchins asking if he thought it was only the Catholic Church that was a problem he limited his reply to other versions of Catholicism, ie; Byzantine etc. I would have expected him to reply that no religion is a force for good but rather a force to maintain a huge part of mankind in the world of ignorance and poverty.

    I hope this was only an oversight as we should not take our eyes off the vacuum being left by the Catholic Church in it’s slow disintegration which may already be being filled by equally evil ideologies such as Islam and the Mormon Church for example.

    Correction from yea to nay in line4

  95. November 13, 2009 at 08:17

    Dear Sor,

    I see the Catholic Church as playing both ends against the middle.

    When it feels like it it will support the underprivileged and when it feel like it it leaves them alone as the Church feels that it is unable to sustain them.

    True that the Church has reached out to millions but what about the atrocities that the Church has committed and the tribes it ha wiped out and the forced conversions of the people in South America?

    It does not support abortion but what about the religious that have been impregnated by those who have persecuted them as in the cases in India where the RSS and their minions have ravaged the churches and raped the nuns? What happened to the insemination and the resulting child?

    Sure the Church supports the poor but for its own ends.


  96. 127 John Rainey
    November 13, 2009 at 09:17

    I enjoyed the programme and did not doubt the outcome. I live in the Philippines and see on the ground what the Catholic Church represents. It is no coincedence that some of the poorest countries have a predominent Catholic presence. It represents politics and power and supression of people. Trust in god but leave the corrupt government alone as we get on with it very well.

    There are without doubt good “men” in the church as there are in every walk of life and faith can be good for society, however, as an institution the Catholic Church in my opinion is most definately not a force for good but a force for power and supression.

  97. 128 Theodore Rectenwald
    November 13, 2009 at 13:08

    How terribly courageous of the BBC to single out Catholicism (which, incidentally, seemed to be interchangeable with ‘Christianity’ for the purposes of this forum) for this most recent debate. I look forward eagerly to its upcoming similarly disparaging discussions on such major branches of their respective faiths as Sunni Islam and Orthodox Judaism.

    When will they air?

  98. 129 ataguala
    November 13, 2009 at 13:52

    Catholicism and, in fact, ALL religions have to be seen as inventions by humans to turn the world into a better place. Maybe there was once a need for religions, but no longer. Religions divide people, indoctrinate people with nonsense and achieve the opposite from what they claim their goals are. Why is there nobody amongst our so-called ‘leaders’ and politicians brave enough to admit all those ideas of Gods (and the pomp that goes with it) is based on fiction, on imagination, on childish wishful thinking? It’s plain ridiculous to believe in an ‘Almighty’ ghost (or ANY ghost), or to accept ‘re-surrection’, virgin birth and other nonsense. Without religion Earth can be a better place, more just, more equal, more fair, and less devisive. hierarchical.

  99. 130 Nwaelugo Chukwuemeka Francis
    November 13, 2009 at 14:13

    It is very disheartening today that the Catholic Church (or any other church for that matter) should be in a situation where people are arguing if it is a force for good or not. In my opinion, two main reasons account for this:
    • The Catholic Church has failed to produce genuine converts/believers. More than 70% of the members do not practice what the church teaches. If up to 50% of all Catholic members (or any other Christian denomination for that matter) adheres to chastity and faithfulness and high moral standards as preached by the church, the problem of HIV/AIDS, homosexuality and abortions would not be as much as it is today. The Catholic Church or any other church has no business in deciding which contraceptive methods should be allowed or not since these are issues to be handled by the state.
    • The second reason is that when majority of the judges are part of the problem itself, how to you expect them to be fair. Instead of taking the blame for their inability to adhere to the sound teachings of the church, they decided to shift the blame to the church.

    No right thinking person will ever disapprove of the fact that the Catholic Church in spite of its shortcomings is a force for good.

  100. 131 Ibanga Elliot
    November 13, 2009 at 14:18

    The catholic church, just like every other form of Organized religious body is subject to the faults that exist in every human being.

    After all they all claim to act on Gods directions, which are received, interpreted and preached by mere mortals.

    Hence when a body as powerful as the catholic church with millions of followers makes decisions which it deems as absolute and divine, the resulting outcome can almost never be advantageous to any one apart from the catholic church itself!

  101. 132 mohammad
    November 13, 2009 at 14:48

    The pope has told people that condoms are not an effective means of preventing AIDS.

    I think that in itself is enough to show that the church does not care about humanity; only about keeping up an image in order to continue garnering donations from its conservative members.

  102. 133 Ivan Mark Radhakrishnan
    November 13, 2009 at 14:58

    Do you enjoy Christmas? Well even if you do not, whether or not the Catholic Church is a force for Good, we still are influencing your life!

    Even ‘our’ Calendar – which fixes our Christmas, our and your New Year, our Easter, all the holidays we enjoy, all our Birthdays and all our Anniversaries – is used by you EVERYDAY to set your life!

    So whether or not the Catholic Church is a force for good, there are many things in it YOU cannot live without!

  103. 134 Dan
    November 13, 2009 at 15:02

    Though not Catholic you have to say that the Catholic Church is a force for Good or you must say that Islam is a force for Evil.

  104. 135 Jennifer
    November 13, 2009 at 15:16

    Ok, I have tried how many times? Will try again.

    Re: Is the Catholic Church a force for good in the world?


    There are some values that are timeless; such as family, marriage; these are the core components that make up our society. Without those things, we are will cease to thrive.

    As for condoms/birth control. There is education. It works. There is abstinence. It works.

    I hope the Church maintains it’s beliefs.

  105. 136 guykaks.nairobi
    November 13, 2009 at 15:38

    this looks rather mystical and out of question.catholic church practices are completly out to be desired.the cross with a semblance of christ which in me is satanic.i think the followers are blind folded with the church itself…look at all those things they do?praying for death bodies?i really dislike there ways and practises

  106. 137 Phyllis , Naples Florida
    November 13, 2009 at 15:56

    A REFORMED Catholic Church will be a force for good.
    For 45 years I have been living (not just residing) around the world. This includes living in Islamic, Buddhist , Hindu and Christian dominated countries.

    And, after weighing the overwhelming amount of Pros against the Cons, I have concluded that the Catholic Church has left more positives on individuals around the world than negatives.

    However, the Church HAS to change to continue to have any credibility.

    • 138 Jennifer
      November 13, 2009 at 17:16

      This is interesting!

      I think that we should purge all the fair-weather Catholics. The ones who are pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, etc as they no longer follow basic tenants of the church.

      Catholicism is based on certain rules (dogma) and these do not change. As much as some people say that the church is stuck in the past, if they truly looked at issues they would see that the church is nowhere near the sell by date.

  107. 139 Ronald Ng
    November 13, 2009 at 16:11

    The Catholic Church might have a self image of being a force for good, but it suffers from the problem of having to act by a set of dogmas.

    And I have this to say, “All that is necessary to turn a good man to evil is to give him dogmas and the certainty that he is right, and, in following those dogmas, he is perfoming good.”

  108. 140 Sade
    November 13, 2009 at 16:22

    No organization or entity that controls the lives of human beings is a force for good. The Catholic church has ruined the lives of countless numbers of people with the enforcement of their idea of family, marriage and spirituality.

    This debate is long overdue. Perhaps in time we will see how antiquated it is to believe we have answers for others.

    Don’t do harm to another person is a very simple concept but it is one which religions, that claim to speak for god, are unable to understand.

  109. 141 Alexei Kazansky
    November 13, 2009 at 16:39

    The Catholic Church is the basis for morality in the west. Before the creation of the church, the west was populated by barbarians, who had very poor morals compared to the rest of the civilized world. In fact, the church was one of the very foundations of one of the most important periods of the history of man – the middle ages.

  110. 142 steve/oregon
    November 13, 2009 at 16:49

    No religon is a force for “GOOD” in this world.

  111. 143 Nuxollusa
    November 13, 2009 at 16:50


    The Roman Catholic Church is an institution which claims to follow Jesus Christ. In that attempt, its members seek to live out the evangelical counsels professed by Christ and to pass on his teachings. While its members often fail and sin horrendously, its saints also lift it up. What institution has so many saints and sinners! And it is specifically for the sinners so that it can bring them to heaven!

    I am sorry for those any abuses and the bad examples…but I am grateful for the good examples that comes from it! The Church has stood up for human rights and cared for the unwanted, the diseased, the uneducated!!!

    IT’s a human institution with a Divine Mission dating back 2000 years.

  112. 144 john
    November 13, 2009 at 16:54

    i would ask anyone who seems to not think about catholic church as a force of good ,to keep aside there myopic and cynical thought ,and show us any social,economic or religious organization that has had and is having a further reach in helping the society cope and reconstruct itself from all the contemporary problems like poverty,terrorism,health.governance and aid to the lesser privileged amongst us , there is none comparable to the catholic church !

  113. 145 Adrian Callan
    November 13, 2009 at 16:54

    the catholic church is responsible for the spread of Aids in Africa….

    it is evil, outdated and unnecessary in the modern world.

    Catholicism remains strong in the third word and in backward American states.

    People learn right and wrong through natural instinct and love. a mothers love for her child, the love someone feels for someone else, teaches them right and wrong. Pain and sadness and fear, teach us right and wrong….not the Ten commandments.

  114. November 13, 2009 at 16:55

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  115. 147 Alex from Joensuu, Finland
    November 13, 2009 at 16:55

    Catholic church needs definitely to modernize.

  116. 148 Tessy
    November 13, 2009 at 16:56

    I am watching the programme on Tv.

    My comments is that catholic is a body and can not control what the people are doing.
    In every society there are good and bad people eggs it depends on which direction one whats to follow.

    God has laid his words for us to follow.

    am sure if we ask ourselves questions,what can i do if am on that position then we will reaslise the truth.

    Let’s search our heart’s before we comment on issues.
    Thank You,

  117. 149 Emma Skemp
    November 13, 2009 at 16:57

    What about the development of classical music and art that only arose through the education and inspiration of the catholic church

    • 150 Dora
      November 13, 2009 at 22:14

      ha ha and rock & roll was the work of the devil, I know what camp I am in 🙂

    • 151 Ronald Almeida
      November 14, 2009 at 15:54

      Sorry it was the other way around. It was artists and musicians that propagated the ideas of the Catholic Church. Just the way creative geniuses advertise and push commercial products today.

  118. 152 Nanci
    November 13, 2009 at 17:00

    It’sa difficult question. As someone raised in the Christian faith, but as a Protestant, it is difficult for me to want to defend the Catholic church. The Catholic church represents one strain of Christianity and even within the Catholic church, there is no one definitive theology either. For instance, catholic liberation and feminist liberation theology is much more something I could get behind and support as it is more relevant to today’s emphasis on gender equality and human rights.

    Broadly speaking I think the ethical values that all religious hold (whether people interpret them this way or not) is the idea of loving one’s neighbor as oneself and acting with compassion in the world. To the extent that the Catholic faith is interpreted in this way, for peace, for human flourishing, and for love rather than doctrinal rectitude at the expense of human compassion and empathy, and for love rather than hate or for war, then, it is valuable.

    I love some of the works of liberation Catholic theologians like Elizabeth Johnson who reads scripture through the lens of human flourishing. To the extent that religion brings out the best in us and reinforces a commitment to act humanely, I support it.

    Too bad today’s Catholic church largely does not do this with its emphasis on doctrinal rectitude about birth control, homosexuality, adultery, etc. I don’t see any compassion there for the fragility of our daily human life.

  119. 153 Bhupendra Tamang
    November 13, 2009 at 17:04

    Any religion that is followed ‘strictly’ is dangerous. Why? All religions are hundreds and thousands year old. They were made according to the social standards of that time. Of course I don’t mean that it’s out dated. The general outline still holds foot in the present age but surely you can’t follow it word for word, hundreds of years after it was made.

  120. 154 Raynah Sivaraman
    November 13, 2009 at 17:05

    What is a force for the good? How do we define it? Without reference to any religious or dogmatic belief, A Force for the Good is about organizing and contributing towards multifaceted humanitarian efforts (Education, Medical Care, Institutions for the Mentally and Physically Challenged, Lepers, AIDS patients, Aged, Orphans, etc. etc). And, that’s exactly what the Catholic Church has done in roughly 150 countries of the world. A Force for the Good is about being an effective presence in wartorn, disease and disaster affected regions — and, once again, that’s what the Catholic Church has been. A Force for the Good reaches out across national, religious and income lines in all its humanitarian efforts — and again, that’s how the Catholic Church reaches out. A Force for the Good is able to transcend its scandals, mistakes and shame to continue steadfastly in its efforts to offer health, education and hope — and that’s also what the Catholic Church has transcended. And finally, A Force for the Good is never dented by debates on homosexuality, contraception, the celibacy of its clergy or the infallibility of its Pope. That’s the BBC’s arena — and A Force for the Good i.e. the Catholic Church, is far ahead and away!

    • 155 Ronald Almeida
      November 14, 2009 at 15:46

      Very often the cause and the cure are just two sides of the same coin.
      For example Switzerland contributes more to charity and humanitarian institutions than any other country in the world. The Swiss banks are also full of the blood money of all the criminals and corrupt politicians in the world.

  121. 156 Giovanni
    November 13, 2009 at 17:20

    Yes the Churc is something great but, as you perfectly know, it is made by people and people can make mistakes. It’s not a correct question it seems that BBC would make an attack to the Roman Church. The right consideration is something else. We are loosing the meaning ov the words of Jesus Christ. We are loosing our values, our identity and this Europe is going bad. We shoul discover again Christ, in Christ only we can trust. Nothing else. But we are not humple people, that’s a great illness for human being. we shoul discover again Christ and don’t give all this attention to the Church. Church is somethin made by people and can make mistakes as we all are using to!

  122. 157 Jonathan Ladret
    November 13, 2009 at 17:21

    It was unfortunate that did not respond to that teacher from Rome, Anna-Maria’s comment about Pedophile in the church.

    Did the Catholic Church bring morality or hypocrisy? (Do as I say not as I do), and lets not forget what the Catholic Church has done in the past to “enforce” conversion and devotion. People used to be burned for heresy against the Church.

    How about abstinence? It doesn’t seem to working very well for scores of priests. Children seem to be easy targets, and the Churches attempt to cover up there priests indiscretions with out even owning up to it.

    I say Hypocrites.

  123. 158 Phyllis , (WGCU) Florida
    November 13, 2009 at 17:33

    Jim in Hawaii prompts me to note that the Catholic Church is not Uniform.
    It is Vastly Different everywhere.

    Everything that Jim has noted, I found to be true when I lived in Wisconsin (except in the now extinct inner city church).
    It was so bad and foreign to me that I attended a Non Denominational church instead. It was filled with ex-Catholics

    The Exact Opposite is true in my Parrish in Malaysia.

    My Parrish in Tobago -West Indies- is different from both of these.

    The Catholic Church is so vastly different around the world that I think they need to take stock and decide what they are going to be.

    Everything good and everything bad that is said about the Church is true.
    I find that the good continues to be practiced in enough places to make the Church still a force for good.

    Importantly, the Catholic Church needs to recognize its historical influence in the area of Education in much of the world. And that in many countries, it still sets the standard .

  124. 159 Hemsley Hunter Caesear
    November 13, 2009 at 17:48

    It is easy for well fed Europeans and Americans to make criticisms about the Catholic church now. It is because they are comfortable after many years of suffering when they had no other place to turn than the church which their fathers were part of. You who dig into history to attack the church, know it that this same church has never at anytime claimed to be perfect. For what I respect the church for, is that humility to accept her faults and ask for forgiveness when she has erred. This virtue cannot be found in other religions or arms of Christianity. Dose it mean that they are the ones that is perfect. We all know today that Islam for example sanctions the extermination of those who apostatize or would not follow her, i.e. only the killing of a Muslim by a Muslim is crime. Who could point a finger or dare say anything. Europeans and Americans are so scared because they cannot leave without oil. Some talk about the crusade, If Islam had maintained it’s perimeter and not sprayed with the sword, would there have been a need for the crusade? The Nun and others who talked about many children been given birth to and are suffering in Africa and South America, ask yourselves who caused the suffering of these kids. Colonial thieves who ruined the traditional lifestyle of these people by stealing their wealth or the church that preaches against condom use on grounds of satanic wimps turning this world to “anything ends in sex”. UK treasures billions in gold deposite, has gold ever been mined in the UK? All of it was stolen from Africa and South America. Ask you protestant fathers where it all came from. Because you have accepted satanism, dose not mean people who chose to be Catholics must follow you. There is a place in this world for atheists, satanists, moslems and deluded protestants. Though, it seems that the BBC lacking news decided to start up this debate, I dare you do same for Islam and face the music. I think BBC should concentrate on better issues than being used to destroy the foundation on which the world stands.

    • 160 Ronald Almeida
      November 14, 2009 at 15:27

      Do you think you and me could express our point of view to others or the world at large, instead of accepting everything we are told in blind faith, if not for such debates by the BBC?

  125. November 13, 2009 at 17:48

    I am a Catholic, and I do think that the Roman Catholic Church is a force of good simply because it is a religion. As a religion, it is founded on love, which is exhibited by the Roman Catholic Church’s firm hold on the Ten Commandments.

    The Ten Commandments were made by God because He loves us. As a creator, God instituted the Commandments for us to reach Heaven. He did so because He wants to ensure that when we leave our mortal bodies behind, we will be with Him still. God did not make the commandments as a challenge for us to break because, clearly, a person can easily not listen to these rules and sin without even batting an eyelash. He did so in an effort to call on us and say that we heard Him. As humans, we were created with free will, and that same free will gives us the faculties to respond to God and say that we will follow his commandments, get into Heaven, and be with Him in all His glory. Following the commandments is how we need to tell God that we love Him back.

    On the contrary and to put all other accusations to rest, the evil acts done through the Catholic Church obviously stems from being disobedient to the Ten Commandments, and thus, a disobedience to love, which is one way that we can use our free will and say to God, “No, I don’t love you, and I don’t care if I go to Hell.” Yes, a lot of members of the Catholic Church did/does/might do a lot of evil, through personal choice, but the core of the Church still remains; despite everything that happened in the past, the Church is still teaching the Ten Commandments.

    With this zest and zeal in teaching and implementing these commandments, commandments handed down to humans by God, I do believe that the Roman Catholic Church is a force of good no matter what. It is us, humans, whether Catholic or not, that needs choose how to respond to God and His love.

    • 162 Ronald Almeida
      November 14, 2009 at 15:14

      Are you sure that it wasn’t man who wrote the ten commandments and established the church in gods name? And why do the peoples of the world believe in different gods?

  126. 163 Alan in Arizona
    November 13, 2009 at 17:49

    After reading the responses this subject has drawn out of the listeners, last week and today, I have to wonder if the subject is to narrow. I think it would be better to create a list of questions or requirements. Address them to each religion to determine if a specific religion is good or evil. We know that the majority of religious individuals have a good heart. We know that there are extremists that use religion as an excuse to commit violent acts by interpreting religious text to suit their needs. We need to address how and why these extremists are allowed to use religious text to commit crimes and deal with it straight on. As religious members we should know when it wrong for a Southern preacher insights violence by using skin color to warrant a hanging or an Iman calls for a Jihad against non Islamic’s trying to help his country. WE as free speaking individuals should know better than to follow some idiot yelling slanderous rhetoric supposedly taken from religious text to insight violence. We as citizens of the world should know what is right and wrong without being told.

    • 164 viola
      November 13, 2009 at 20:18

      The chief arguments against the Catholic church as a force for good seem to be a list of wrongdoings done by some members of the Church plus a lot of condemning of the church’s right to take stands on issues that when applied to homosexuals or women or birth control and abortion advocates, for example, leads those persons to feel victimized. Of course those people will always believe the Church is evil.

      Well, guess what. Any organization in existence as long as the Catholic church has been will have in its historical record many instances of wrongdoing done in its name. The Catholic church is no exception to that rule. Does the Church eventually own up to past errors?

      Drawing attention to areas of the Church that one believes does more harm than good is O.K. Condemning the entire Church as a harmful institution is not O.K.

    • 165 Ronald Almeida
      November 14, 2009 at 15:07

      We do! But try telling a parent, teacher, preacher or any other such ignorant creature about it.

  127. 166 Sister Claire-Marie Jeannotat
    November 13, 2009 at 18:05

    I gratefully heard the haveyoursay just over an hour ago. Again I realized the complexities involved when “church” and “catholic” and “force” are concerned.

    What I missed: The church “people of God” wasn’t mentioned once. Institution, hyrarchy and all issues debated, last Sunday, I think were brought up, that was the aim.

    For me, I still think that God’s people struggling in structural injustice, are in fact the church. It is an emerging a force for good in the world! For good, for the common good.

    Alongside the many who are bee taken care of by catholic institutions, are the millions who are not. The grassroot people have a voice which is muted by circumstances or the powers that be. There is a deep gulf between the Founder of the catholic church, Jésus and the Institution. I belive the Church is there where struggling people hope and pray not in the hyrarchies flirting with the powerful and their systems.

  128. 167 Gareth Martin
    November 13, 2009 at 18:06

    Just to add to whether the Catholic church is for the good or not,
    well the church is Gods will and whether people like it or not it will never be destroyed

    • 168 Vicki
      November 17, 2009 at 16:46

      And who told you that any church is “God’s will”? The PEOPLE of the church, right? PEOPLE developed the church, PEOPLE came up with ridiculous dogma to make the hoi-polloi follow them, and yes, PEOPLE wrote the Bible. Inaccurate, sometimes well-meaning but sometimes downright evil-minded, greedy, power-hungry PEOPLE.

      Tell me, does the Vatican and all the attendant pomp and circumstance look ANYTHING like what Jesus had in mind? Do all the layers of people trying to come between a congregation and its God sound like ANYTHING Jesus had in mind? Does ANY religious dogma sound ANYTHING like what that religion’s founder had in mind?

      The church is as susceptible to greed, hypocrisy, and evil deeds as is any other human endeavor, because it’s created and operated by humans. Not God. I don’t believe that He could care less about churches. Didn’t Jesus say, “When one or two are gathered together in my Name, there I shall be also?” What does that have to do with ANY church?

  129. 169 tim hodgson
    November 13, 2009 at 18:11

    None of the Abramic religions has ever been a force for good. They have been responsible for more bitterness, bloodshed and hatred throughout history than other cause. And, all in the name of the “Love of God,” they haven’t changed; they are still killing at it. . Furthermore,their arrogance in believing that they alone have the copyright on a decent code for liveing is astonishing to say the least!
    However, it was a pity the catholics couldn’t come up with a sharper intellect than the poor Archbishop. They deserved a drubbing, but maybe it shouldn’t have been quite so brutal, and I thought the cheering after the result was decleared was rather distasteful.

  130. November 13, 2009 at 18:12

    No as birth control is an essential tool for human evolution beyond greed and war.

  131. 171 Carol Rogers
    November 13, 2009 at 18:53

    The church in and of itself is not a force for good. It is a burearcy like any other organization.

    The members and followers of the church are the force for good.

    Like any other organization it is the poeple on the ground that determine its destiny.

  132. 172 Shannon in Ohio
    November 13, 2009 at 19:00

    As a non-Catholic who once worked as a young lay teacher in a mission school, I still find myself a little conflicted about the Church itself. Yes, I saw truly saintly nuns and priests work in the trenches to feed the hungry and shelter the vulnerable. I admired them greatly. But I have also experienced first-hand the sugar-coated contempt this behemoth reserves for all women, who are routinely regarded as nothing more than brainless baby machines or habit-wearing waitresses.

    The Church just extended an invitation to conservative Anglicans to join. Why would any institution proudly advertise the fact that it willfully discriminates against whole groups of people (women and gay people, for instance) while wrapping this hatred (that is what it is) in very disingenuous “God is love” rhetoric?

  133. November 13, 2009 at 19:07

    All religions have lofty ideals which in principle are good, moral and uplifting. However when religion is used for ulterior purposes, ideals get compromised. But religion has to move with the times. One cannot expect archaic rules to govern people’s faith. Moderate common-sense values based on respect and fellowship will always triumph over hard dictatorial strictures. Extremism in any religion will never survive. The Church is a positive force in education. Just think of the Catholic and missionary schools in many parts of the developing world . Religion when used intelligently is a real boon but when used by extremists is a vehicle for destruction and gloom.

    • 174 Ronald Almeida
      November 14, 2009 at 14:53

      Forget about extremism, destruction and gloom. What about manipulation or should I call it Moneypulation of other cultures, individuals and ideas for ones own advantage?

  134. 175 Kirk
    November 13, 2009 at 19:33

    If the church kept their nose out of social and political issues then nobody would bash them.

    In my opinion organized religion, especially the Catholic church, is responsible for more death, pain and sadness than any government. All you need do is look at history for confirmation.

    From selling indulgences, murdering the Cathars and murdering the Knights Templar (which I suspect is the reason for this discussion today) through “the troubles” in Ireland and the social interference with gay and lesbians around the world in their struggle for equal rights the Catholic church does and has done more harm than can be recounted here…and that’s just a few things we know about…what is and has been hidden and is not known? How many more murders were done in the name of “preserving” the church.

    Religion as a whole is mankind’s worst invention.

    • 176 Ronald Almeida
      November 14, 2009 at 14:46

      Tell me why is it that only you, I and a few others see it? I think we need to work on that ! That is if at all we are concerned with the rest of the world. I for one am not sure I care a jot. Why should I break my head against a wall of ignorance. Though I’m doing it with this very statement.

  135. 177 Ed
    November 13, 2009 at 19:39

    Let’s concentrate on the Gospel message instead of harping on what man did (or did not do)in the name of religion throughout the centuries. There are over a billion catholics in the world today-I say, to each his own.

  136. 179 Sheryl Nuxoll
    November 13, 2009 at 20:12

    The Catholic Church has been the preservation of culture and faith throughout the 2000 years plus.
    If one only reads a little history to find out that She preserved Rome with St Leo the Great, St Gregory the Great. The Benedictines and the monks preserved all the books throughout the dark and middle ages.
    She is the rock and defender of the family on which the whole of society is based.
    In the last centuries, She is looked to safe refuge for the Jews and any who have been displace or suffer.
    Many, whether Catholic or not, look to the Pope and the Church for guidance. Their advice is most often sought.
    She runs hospitals, orphanages, schools, universities, etc.
    It is no wonder that those Obama has picked call themselves Catholic as they hide their identity under cover of a good holy name: Catholic.
    Sherry Nuxoll

  137. 180 Patricia
    November 13, 2009 at 20:30


    Well logically speaking we need the Catholic Church. Everyday we live by man made laws that help govern the civlization. Overall, we seem to be fine with that. Mankind is naturally drawn to structure, not chaos. No rules=chaos. So, on just a practical and logical note, we need the Catholic Church that Christ instituted because she has rules and teachings that were meant to be followed so that we can embrace true freedom and as much happiness as can be found in this world. We obviously know that we are not in control of our destiny, because then we would be in control of our own death, which we are ultimately not. There is one thing that we all have in common that no matter what we believe, who we are or where we came from-we will all die someday. We didn’t even have control of how or when or that we were born into this world.
    That being said, we should then take a second look at the teachings of the Church and realize that they are all consistent and never changing. People may try to teach others misconceptions about the Church, but if we each take the time to at least learn more about her & what she is about, at least then we can say that we saw fullness of Truth and chose to not believe. As a woman who was for abortion & tried to fight against the Church teaching, I came to realize that there was not greater institution when it came to embracing the true beauty of femininity. Just look at Mother Mary. We love her and she is the queen of all saints, she is the essence of humility and it is through her that we come to know her Son. God bless and thanks for listening for what it is worth.

  138. 181 Bavaria
    November 13, 2009 at 20:46

    Catholicism is a stronghold against pseudo-religions like Fascism and Communism. As a Catholic German I know what I am talking about. I am deeply happy and grateful about my belief.

  139. 182 Amy
    November 13, 2009 at 20:47

    The Church has been around for over 2000 years, and though full of imperfect people, has done amazing things and made an incredible difference in the world. Imagine a world without universities and hospitals, and that would be a history without the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has not backed down on their defense of the sanctity of human life, and has been consistent in their teaching for the last 2000 years. They are a voice for the voiceless.

    If the Church’s TRUE role models are people such as Mother Teresa, John Paul II, Joan of Arc, Maria Goretti, Gianna Molla, etc., then I say it’s the most powerful positive force in society today.

  140. 183 Cecile Koehler
    November 13, 2009 at 21:11

    The Catholic Church is in fact a force for good. The arguments of the nay-sayers were fraught with errors. Attacking the church in regard to homosexuality, women priests, or birth control misses the point. The Church’s stance on these issues is a matter of faith and doctrine – what does this have to do with being a force for good? Infallibility is only vested in the Pope when he teaches on matters of faith and dogma. I encourage the people who have posted here to read Pierre Blet’s account of the what the Church did before and during World War II. I encourage you to read encyclicals like Rerum Novarum or Mit Brennender Sorge and tell me that the Church is not a force for good. I fear a world without Catholic Charities or Catholic health care in the developed world and without the missionaries in the developing world. Yes, the Church funnels more money to developing nations than any country in the world. As for abuse of children, it is a black eye on the Church. The rate of pedophilia however, (4% of priests) is no worse than that of any other faith including those who allow priests to marry. As for me, I will take stock in the beatitudes – “Blessed are you suffer hate all because of me.” I am proud of my faith and my Church!

  141. 184 Frank C
    November 13, 2009 at 21:23

    The Catholic Church is the most prolific healthcare, education provider on the face of God’s earth.

  142. 185 Dora
    November 13, 2009 at 21:48

    I love that the same as everything that’s good in the world is down to god and everything that is bad is down to ‘free will’. Everything that’s bad that can be attributed to the Catholic Church both historically and currently is down to peoples ‘misinterpretation’ of the bible. Don’t make me laugh, there was santioning at the highest level of things like helping the Nazi’s escape after the war, like the Spanish inquisition and against condoms in preventing the spread of AIDS.
    When will the Catholic Church take responsibility for it’s proponants, a bad employee in the resposibility of the company, it is thought that as they hired them and chose then they take reposibility for their actions, but when the CC has a ‘bad apple’ they move them from parish to parish knowing they are child abusers and then deny any knowledge. It’s all about accountability.

  143. November 13, 2009 at 22:49

    I thought I understood what transubstantiation was maybe there is no one clear meaning….I believe the catholic church since Gregory filled the gap left when Rome fell to the barbarians

    They assumed an authority as to the legitimate interpretation and practise of christianity over and above all other practising christian sects,including the arians,barbarians to mention but two….. which in turn they denounced as heretical

    How they came to this is difficult to explain or wether they were justified seems questionable even to this day.

  144. 187 Kristi
    November 13, 2009 at 23:22

    You always hear negative things about the Catholic Church in the news because of the misdeeds of some Catholic idiots who have misrepresented and misunderstood their faith. Their misdeeds are scandal, which makes for interesting news and good gossip. Unfortunately, most people never hear or bother to take time to learn about the unparalled good works done in the world by the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic Daughters, Catholic Relief Services and many of the saints (both cannonized and unknown). These remarkable acts of kindness and charity were built on a foundation of love for all human beings and the world around us. Those who question whether the Catholic Church is a good force in the world have only been exposed to a small sliver of the Church, and would benefit by some further exploration or by meeting some Catholics who actually do understand and live out their faith. Unfortuately, there are many ou there who misunderstand their faith and create a negative impression.

  145. 188 Bob
    November 14, 2009 at 00:47

    What kind of stupid politically correct question is that?

  146. 189 Eamon Sheridan
    November 14, 2009 at 03:57

    Yes the Church is a force for good. The debate that took place with Steven Fry et al was biased.
    Of course there are problms in the church. But in small villages and towns troughout the world the church is an amazig force for good

  147. 190 Regtag
    November 14, 2009 at 04:56

    As the oldest & biggest multinational corporation in the planet and also the smallest state (Vatican) on earth, the Catholic Church has always been a FORCE that uses faith & the gospel as its marketing tool to keep people from asking questions and bowing down to their will.
    Since nothing is perfectly good nor evil, I would say that the Catholic Church has only done what it needs to do to survive–just like any other corporation would.

    For example: Why do they have such a hardliner stance on anti-contraception particularly in Catholic countries like Latin American nations and the Philippines? Simply because almost every child coming out of the womb will automatically become part of their flock! Each child will go through the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, first communion, marriage, ordination(in case the boy has been effectively brainwashed),confession, extreme unction, etc….they will go to mass and be enrolled in Catholic schools…………….This translates into INCOME! This is their CUSTOMER BASE with an almost infinite appetite for their PRODUCT!

    Throughout the centuries, they have set the standard on how organized religion should be run as a business!

    They struck deals with Constantine and made compromises with the NAZIs during the last war. They continue to influence governments and even businesses or even what gets shown or not in movie houses(in some predominantly Catholic nations).
    They will do what is necessary for VATICAN INC. to survive.

    They will give a facade of benevolence or make a great pitch using the bible or faith to achieve their own selfish ends.

    Disclosure: I was born, raised and educated as a Catholic.

    • 191 Bernard Simoes
      December 3, 2009 at 18:04

      Hallo!!! The Catholic Church was the only one to openly criticise the Nazis during WW II. None of the other spineless world leaders had the courage to say a thing!!! The Catholic Church took in thousands of Jews & hid them in Monastries & Churches to prevent them from being rounded-up & murdered. The Vatican itself was full of Jews being protected by the Catholic Church.

  148. 192 Thomas Varkey
    November 14, 2009 at 08:28

    Structurally, catholic church is like any other institution, though not democratic. Catholicism, as it is meant , founded and established, is only for the good of humanity. Any institution has its own draw backs. The probs are not of Catholicism, but the people in the hierarchy who never want to shed their powers, giving way to democracy, transparency and more of peoples’ participation. Whatever is there within the Church against the common good of humanity must be done away with.

    As a catholic, I dont think, Jesus, being a socialist and a man who lived for the good of the people, will have anything to do with the powerful hierarchy within the Church.

    Thomas Varkey
    Asst. Prof.

  149. 193 Gareth Martin
    November 14, 2009 at 09:31

    The catholic church is the Church Instituted By Jesus Christ the Son of God ,
    No man or organization can overcome it just like we cannot stop the earth from rotating.

  150. November 14, 2009 at 13:10

    All the religions in history have, so far, failed God.

  151. 195 Ronald Almeida
    November 14, 2009 at 14:40

    Being from a developed country and manipulated by the Catholic Church all my life, I know it was only the forerunner of colonialism sent in advance to disarm and manipulate the developing world in the name of love, so white imperialists could walk in and loot us, which they are still doing on one pretext or the other.

  152. 196 ajmal karimi
    November 14, 2009 at 19:02

    can some one find 5 catholics in europe following their relegion?

  153. 197 anwer abdulla
    November 14, 2009 at 19:06

    it is the universal fact that each and every religion in the world are for good of the unverse. whether it is islam or christianity they are for the good of the people.
    no religion in the universe has taught God’s children the language of enemity, hatred or discrimination at all.
    cooperation as well as harmony are the signs of a true person whatever his religion is. both islamic and christian schoalrs as well as any other sub-groups if created by the human beings inside their own religion are entitled to bear a single slogan: brotherhood. it is the light of the the universe and it is the guide of the community to lead thems through the right path of humanity.
    religion is not for war, arguments or to separate the brothers, according to the aspects of any religious faith, instead it is to make them unite to form a single society in terms of love, cooperation and brotherhood.

  154. 198 GTR5
    November 14, 2009 at 21:12

    Yes they are. Absolutely. And I am not Catholic.

  155. November 14, 2009 at 21:21

    The Catholic Church is one of the biggest enterprises in history. An organization that large is bound to make mistakes, which its detractors never miss a chance to point out. But in great undertakings, great mistakes are made, but great good can also be achieved.
    Is the Catholic Church a force for good? Certainly, that is its aim. The debate should really be about the methods by which its aim is being realized, not whether it is a force for good, or, for the only other obvious alternative, evil.

  156. 200 michele nico
    November 14, 2009 at 21:23

    I have been saved by catholic Church, how can I say that it isn’t a force for good?

  157. November 14, 2009 at 22:54

    I’m not displeased with the result,but it was hardly a fair fight.I wonder how many here would be speaking on behalf of religion if they were not indoctrinated early in life: You know “Give me the child until he is seven etc”…Slightly OT What has happened to the article Christianity vs Islam which was on line Tuesday, but nowhere to be found?

  158. 202 Andy in Florida
    November 15, 2009 at 01:09

    I would maintain that the Catholic church is, on balance, not a force for good in todays world. But then I hold that any religion, especially Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, are chronic evils that have damaged millions of people over the years. To keep people trapped in ignorant supersition, unable to make their own decisions for fear of offending the great “sky-daddy”, or whoever is supposed to be running the show, is just bad. It keeps people from thinking for themselves and improving their lives. It’s easy, though – make one decision to let the church make all your decisions for you based on a book that was written by bronze age goat herders. It is a complex world today – choosing religion allows you to abdicate any responsibility for your life. We are generally no longer bronze age goat herders. The old superstitions are not now, nor ever were, defensible. Countless lives are ruined because of doctrinal differences over what is in god’s mind, when in reality, there is not a shred of evidence that god exists.

  159. November 15, 2009 at 05:10

    Please close the door for all catholic church in the world and you will be suorised by the kind of peace that we will enjoy.
    They are source of all wars and kills from Europe to africa, Let us not fool others for we have fooled ourselves for years.

  160. November 15, 2009 at 05:26

    Tell me anything good the catholic church has done and I will tell you one million mess they have letf behind.

  161. 205 Francisco, from Huelva - Spain
    November 15, 2009 at 19:13

    Religious people are people with good values, something which nowadays society lacks, to realize that all you have to do is watching TV for 10 minutes.. sex,violence and so on..values that are taught to childrend and then become early pregnant or take part in members of gangs..
    Moreover there are thousands of people who are members of Catholic church that dedicate all their life to help the needy and poor, while a lot of people who are criticising don’t do nothing to help this people in need. I do think that Catholic Church is a force for good in the world rather than the contrary.

  162. 206 John LaGrua/New York
    November 15, 2009 at 20:24

    It has always contained saints and sinners but when it displays compassion for failngs of mankind and comforting to the suffering it is a beacon to the best in the human experience.At times, it fails as it so horribly did in the recent child abuse scandal reacting only after the issues were brought to the attention of civil authorities.A level of arrogance ‘paricularly ‘in the US clergy showed a failure to recognize the social changes among the laity , education .main stream paricipation in a secular culture and a spirit of independence not extent the previous generations As an institution it is glacially slow to adapt to changes since it’s perpective is one centuries not years.However, it has not endured because it is run by fools and can reform its’self as shown by Vatican 11.I see it failing now to speak out strongly against violence by secular states in the name of security The travesty of human suffering in Iraq caused by the stupidity and venality of US/UK leadership and the brutality of Isreal in Gaza/Palestine should be denounced ;calling the world to oppose those who so self rightously commit such crimes. Christ never shied away from controversy to condemn wrong doing ,or not praise those who kept the Word John Paul 11 had that dynamic ,it should be forcefully displayed again for all mankind.

  163. 207 fred
    November 16, 2009 at 03:15


  164. 208 Ctan
    November 16, 2009 at 09:19

    No religion, whether Catholic or otherwise should ever be considered a force of good, when they can preach the persecution of a person or people, just because they do not follow the laws of a religion.

    Religions take over man’s ability to distinguish right from wrong, truth from fiction. All the goodness that is preached can never make up for even a single immorality that is taught in the holy books. We, as living, breathing, self-aware beings need to develop our sense of right and wrong without having someone to drive us into a brick wall for their own amusement, or send us to attack someone for their own agenda.

    Religion has always been a borderless, nationless vehicle for zealots to advance their wish for domination, and it still is. Cut of this power of religion, and you cut off a big reason for most of the world’s conflicts. Religion should always be about not hurting another person, about friendliness and love, and about accepting others for the way they are.

  165. 209 OHISA JAMES
    November 16, 2009 at 09:45

    The catholic church is by far all the good that you have just said it does but do you know the reason as to why they provide education and health care to the public?They could have preserved alot like the books and Rome as a town but how many lives,properties and towns have they destroyed in the name of God?They have actualy outwitted the USG that is considered the murderous nation ever.The catholic Church is actualy the representative of the devil in spiritual side and the USG is its deputy.

  166. 210 Robin Destoits
    November 16, 2009 at 10:32

    It’s a shame you did not invite Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP, former Master of the Dominican order who has written a number of compelling books recently such as : What is the point of being a Christian ? or Why go to Church ?( this last book was written at the request of Rt Hon Dr Rowan Williams. You are so lucky to have a leading Catholic thinker in the UK and you don’t even draw benefit from it. But then no one is a prophet in his own country …

  167. 211 odo raphael
    November 16, 2009 at 14:18

    the church is both human and divine .church can make mistake we admit that. but i cannot rule out the positive thing the church has done to the world. they are uncountable. the church continue to be a very powerful positive force on earth. i am proud to be a catholic.

  168. 212 Michael Hoban
    November 17, 2009 at 02:11

    I was appalled by the lack of fairness in the debate: Is the Catholic Church a force for good in the world? A Catholic Archbishop from Nigeria and a sincere convert to Roman Catholicism tried politely to debate two very erudite but agressive and bigotted members of the English elite in front of a hostile audience. I was left with more questions than answers. Should a Catholic Archbishop from Africa be expected to answer complex questions about European history? Did the BBC invite English Catholic Bishops to take part in the debate? Are there no reputable English Catholic Historians or English Catholic moral theologians or English Catholic journalists who can participate in such a debate? Were Catholic relief organizations like CAFOD invited to take part and send people to the debate?
    Has the BBC sponsored in the past similar debates about Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, etc? Why has the BBC chosen to sponsor such a debate? Can a nation which prohibits its monarch from being a Catholic conduct a fair debate about the moral probity of the Catholic Church? Are the English people returning to the anti-catholicism of the 19th Century? “To be a force for good, Catholics need not apply.”

  169. 213 Leo Renier
    November 17, 2009 at 09:42

    If the same audience would have been asked IS ISLAM A FORCE FOR GOOD? the result of the vote would have been the same. Afterwards, many would comment that this result shows that people have a complete wrong motion what Islam is all about.
    I come to the same conclusion after this debate on the Catholic Church.
    The Catholic Church CAN be a force for good. Also the media CAN be a force for good, if it provides balanced reporting. We are to be, but are not always able to. There is always some ambiguity we have to live with. The nicest example is the magnificent building of St.Peter, which is at the same time a scandal because it was at the root of the rift between Catholics and Protestants (the selling of indulgences to collect funds for its construction.)

  170. 214 Maureen from forum
    November 17, 2009 at 17:56

    This was my first experience as a participant in such a forum. I grew up a devout Catholic and I was chosen with others to discuss the pros & cons as to whether the Catholic Church is a force for good..

    I lived as a child in a household where prayers recited 3 times a day were mandatory. My mother was an Oblate of St. Benedict (part of Opus Dei – look up the history of this branch of the Church warmly approved of by our present pope) as it embraced Franco and the fascists of Spain.

    This group was acknowledged by the Pope (my mother always said that they were “real” Catholics as opposed to “convenient” Catholics who practiced birth control and still went to Church.

    There were Opus Dei priests who welcomed Hitler as an answer to “godless communism” and turned in resistance fighters (my uncle was one of these resistance fighters in Poland. He was a devout Catholic who ended up in Auschwitz for 50 months betrayed by another partisan and luckily survived. The church has never apologized for their initial welcome of Hitler.)

    I lived as a child afraid to die in an accident before confessing my sins because I had sexual thoughts that were deemed a mortal sin and would send me to hell before I earned a priest’s absolution. (Think what it was like for a pre-teen girl to confess this kind of sin to a male priest.)

    But I loved my church and wanted to be a priest. I thought it unfair that I couldn’t even be an altar boy – a female I would not be allowed behind the gate before the altar. I believed my church to be a force for justice and love in an unjust world but I had problems with its hypocrisy.

    At the present the Church is so powerful that it could well be force for good but it refuses to change and to even admit that it has changed int he past. This present Pope is going back instead of forward and the Church is intruding religion into international politics again with a lack of transparency as to how their funds collected from the laity are spent.

    The Church is actively recruiting Protestants with special favors to convert in a historically Protestant country (i.e. ministers who became priest would be allowed to keep their family and not be bound by celibacy.) I would think that just for this reason the BBC would take an interest in the topic. Politics & money seem to have become the number one issue in the Church today. Forgotten is love, helping your fellow man, giving to the poor etc.

    Pope Benedict’s excommunication of the doctors who finally allowed a comatose girl to die which has put a crimp in pleas for changes in our attitudes towards assisted dying or even just withdrawing artificial life sustaining methods in terminally ill and suffering patients.

    In working in Catholic hospitals I have seen families lose their homes while doctors artificially keep loved ones alive- only to withdraw support when those families finally run out of funds.

    The Church must live up to its moral speech- not increase its power & money at the expense of the poor. Tithing is now back and families are now told how much they are expected to give according to their salaries (actual letters are sent to friends who are Catholic which estimate – often incorrectly – the family income and the tithe amount is stated and expected.).

    I grew up poor in the 50’s and had to attend Sunday Mass with my class. Envelopes with our names imprinted were given to us for the Sunday Mass collection. There was often no money for food but my father would give us each a quarter to put in the envelope with my name. I refused to do so. Every Monday the nuns put the names of the students in the class who had not given in their envelope

    One Monday the nun called me up in front of the class (I was 9) and asked, “Donohue why haven’t you put in your envelope for the last 3 Sundays?”

    I answered, “Sister we are very poor and I thought the Church was there to give to the poor not take away.” (There was a shocked moment of dead silence and a long chuckle in the class – but at least no names were again put on the blackboard on Mondays.)

    With John 23rd there was hope for change but nothing came of it.

    Morris West wrote a great book called “The Shoes of the Fisherman” the story of a pope fights to change the papacy to give up its riches to serve the poor. It was later made into a relatively good movie. Too bad it was a complete fairy tale.

    The BBC show was a brief panel. There was no part that I could see to particularly recruit any pundits to excoriate the Church. Average people who had written in the past with some personal Catholic history were asked if they would participate and explain any personal problems or joy with the church.

    I thought the moderator was fair and completely on the money.

    • 215 Dion Fernandes
      November 18, 2009 at 06:20

      Hello: I am a cradle Catholic from India. I am sorry that you have such a bad experience with the Ctatholic Church. I can say I have experienced the exact opposite. Yes the Catholic Church and its members are not perfect. Neither am I.Yes they are lkely to make mistakes.Haven’t I?. But we are called to forgive. We are called to donate , not out of abundance but penury- as the widow in Jesus’ time donated.
      We do not question the doctors of medicine why there was no cure of the diseases such as small pox, TB, cancer in the 18th and 19th century, do we? Because we know they are human and their research was not advanced to that level. We can forgive them that. Why is it so difficult for us to forgive priests and the clergy, for mistakes that they have unknowingly or knowingly committed. Today we are much more enlightened, as more and more truths are revealed to us. I speak for myself, when I say that I have changed for the better- especially my views on the Catholic Church. Every year I make a retreat to a neighboring statefor 5 days.During each of the Retreats, more or less the exact preaching is done, yet the message I receive is different, why is that so. The Bible hasn’t changed and will not change. It is for us humans to change. We have to learn to foolow the 10 commandments and the commandments that Christ himself gave us- to love as he loved, to the point of of laying down your life. Whether you are a member of the clergy or not.
      How is it that we do not demand the same level of transparency from the Muslim world. or from the Protestant churches? Is it because the Catholic Church holds high standards- even though some of its own members do not live up to them? Would we chop down the entire tree, if some of its fruits are bad?

  171. 216 fabiole
    November 20, 2009 at 09:03

    Many who contributed to this site are not really serious for the truth. In this computerized age, one can do their research on the internet (google). There you will see that the church. during the years, have contributed greatly to the sciences, arts, music, medicine, the law, and many other important aspects of western civilization.Go to the website shown below for more information. Don’t be a bigot. They just don’t have much fun. Have you noticed that the two atheist rarely smile. They are unhappy people and need to have faith in god.
    Aloha from a Hawaii

    Knight of Columbus 4th degree USA


  172. 217 Marian Atuorah
    January 22, 2010 at 08:30

    is the catholic church a source of good to the world? with what i can see, i say yes. But is the Catholic church concerned about the welfare of the individual in the church, in the parishes? i wonder. i begin to see it that the church is too busy solving matters of the world and neglets issues inwards. you may ask how. i believe its charity begins at home. serious issues that are to be worked upon for the wellbeing of the individual are treated lightly. yes the church wants to maintain a standard of fewer annulments WHY? when the life of the individual is on the line – PSYCHOLOGICALLY. the individual is made to under go a very DIFFICULT process in applying for a declaration of annulment. and to make matters worse is asked to pay exorbitant fees. so what happens to the pooor woman who can’t afford your fees? they should suffer in BONDAGE because they can’t afford your high fees? well, i thought the church was a home for the refuge of sinners but i see it as the place for the RICH. correct me if am wrong. a case where a mother loosses her child due to lack of finances for hospital bills is now asked to pay exorbitant fees for a dissolution of a marriage which is KNOWN as invalid. i know that Jesus said when you know the TRUTH it shall set you free! why does the church require money to SAY the truth. i don’t seem to understand that. there are many other issues about what is going on in the church now that needs serious attention. i will like a forum where i can express my discomfort about the church. i think we should LOOK INWARDS before tackling global issues.

    • 218 Marian Atuorah
      January 22, 2010 at 08:47

      the church needs to look INWARDS before settling global issues. we make up the world. i have a concern here that yhe priesthood is tending towards priestcraft. i lov e the church and i will not sit back and see it doing something wrong and not say anything. thank you.

      • 219 gareth martin
        February 26, 2010 at 17:20

        forget the priest arent the lay equally important , and before we tell the church to look inwards , we must start doing the same and stop blaming the church

  173. 220 Dion
    January 27, 2010 at 06:27

    Yes the Church is a force for good and has been doing and will continue to do good.The attacks against the Church are as old as the Church itself. It appears that the sin of disobedience will never leave us. None is perfect and the doctrine of the Church is meant to lead us into the state of being perfect just as the Father is perfect. Yes Catholics will fail, yet they have the sacraments and the doctrine to lead them back to the right path.(which is more than can be said of other faiths/denominations) Without this we are destined towards a wrong path. The Church has been working constantly towards unity among all the denominations. Yes it discourages the homosexual lifestyle, and maybe it appears to be strict and rigid. But being a Catholic in India, I have NEVER experienced anything but love from this Church. The priests and nuns who work for it are under tremendous pressure and criticism from society to conform to its standards, the standards of the world. Some of them succumb to such pressure- they are human after all. Yet they are not discarded by the Church, who will protect them and not condemn them. Our expectations from this Church are high, but shouldn’t it be in proportion to how much we ourselves give back to her?

  174. 221 MJ
    January 30, 2010 at 03:49

    In my opinion, the english people have lost their god. Their god is “self”. It’s so easy to point fingers and weed out failures of people or the Church. I wonder whether these people who are full of complains, are educated (or perhaps they lack depth, and see things superficially)? Please go read and be more informed, especially Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry… try to be more intelligent than to be emo.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: