WHYS on TV – Is the Catholic Church a force for good?

Here’s the show from earlier on today live on BBC World TV. You can watch parts two and three here.

31 Responses to “WHYS on TV – Is the Catholic Church a force for good?”

  1. November 13, 2009 at 19:55

    As an institution no.As pulpit preacher,probably,but with strong reservations.The ten commandments would apply almost anywhere,with or without God,with or without Moses.The most primitive tribes of South America,surely hold most of them within their tribe,and have never heard of Moses,Jesus or Pontifex Maximus.

    • 2 Dave Cordell
      November 14, 2009 at 09:53

      The Catholic Church has always done great work for the world and continue’s to do so, if they never existed we would be in a far worse state as a race

    • 3 robert
      November 15, 2009 at 17:36

      The doctrines of the catholic church and the rigidity with which they are perpetuated have taken the “good news” of the gospel of Jesus and turned it into the “bad news” for the world. While there are individual catholics who are a force for good in the world, they are so more in spite of than because of the leadership in the catholic church. I was raised a catholic and studied ten years in a seminary in preparation for ordination to the catholic priesthood before I finally decided that if I wanted to keep my emotional psyche healthy I had to get out of the seminary and out of the priesthood. The celibacy demanded by the Vatican of its priests and religious does nothing more than prevent its spiritual leaders from really understanding the nature of unconditional love, one of the foremost messages of the gospel of Jesus. So it’s no surprise to me that you have the spiritual leaders of the church sexually molesting young boys and girls and the leadership covering it up. All credibility in things spiritual has been lost with those actions, and if credibility in things spiritual is looked for, then look to the “recovering catholics” who have left the charade in search of true spirituality.

  2. November 14, 2009 at 00:18

    Who decided there was a God? Answer, man of course. As for the Catholic Church. Have they ever repented for the savagery committed in their name over their many years, including their inquisitions of forcing those not following the ‘true faith’ to repent by force of unspeakable torture? How do they view the manner in which they have robbed the poor to build up the Church’s wealth; are they still not ashamed of the physical and mental ill treatment handed out to children in their care by the hard hearts of fathers and nuns; is it still the case they tell the poor, simple women of their faith in poor countries that they should take no means of birth control other than abstinence, even if the women’s’ own health is poor, and they already have more children than can be looked after healthily without insufficient finances for the families well-being. Would Aids be less rife in parts of the World if the Catholic Church accepted the use of contraception? And is it not a fact there are already too many people occupying a World that is ever being increasingly over populated, adding to food shortages and adding to global warming. Isn’t it so much better to be an atheist and a Humanist and take a humane view of the World rather than all the pretence of what you are doing is in the name of some divine being of the imagination, even if it causes so much misery?

  3. 5 Sacha
    November 14, 2009 at 03:41

    The Catholic church is discriminative, misogynistic and a bully of an institution. They deny science as fact and they do not promote equal rights. How could they possibly be a force for good?

  4. 6 Kristina Brooker
    November 14, 2009 at 03:53

    The Catholics have nice rules and they have non-necessary rules and they are missing rules, for example I don’t think they say anything about looking after seniors. Rules are a force for good, they help people make bets with higher confidence.

  5. 7 Dennis Junior
    November 14, 2009 at 06:46

    I saw the video on Saturday Morning….And–I have a question, who was the lady reading the script in the BBC News Room during Friday’s WHYS on BBC World News?

    =Dennis Junior=

  6. November 14, 2009 at 13:08

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

  7. 9 Michael Hoban
    November 14, 2009 at 18:20

    I was appalled by the lack of quality of 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 aggressive 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? Was the Conference of Catholic Bishops advised about 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 debates about whether or not Islam (Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc) a force for good in the world today? Why has the BBC chosen to sponsor such a debate? Can a nation which prohibits its monarch from being a Catholic conduct a debate about Catholicism? Are the English people returning to the anti-catholicism of the 19th Century? “To be a force for good, Catholics need not apply!” Rev. Michael Hoban, Chile

  8. 11 Matthew
    November 14, 2009 at 23:37

    The catholic church is unecessary, irrational and at it’s worse, harmful.

    It’s high time we all dropped these stone age backward beliefs.

  9. November 15, 2009 at 13:26

    Well, once again I can’t helped but feel irritated when I am consistently seeing representatives of the Church deliberately avoid answering, time and time again, issues that have raised. Why can’t they for once say what they really want to say, and stop dressing non-sense up in pseudo-pop psychology.

    Unfortunately the Catholic church can NEVER move out into modern day ethics, as they have an unalterable subscription to the bronze age dogma’s and scriptures of the Old Testament. Their ideals on conception, women and morality are therefor yes, bronze age. To change, it will require them to turn their back on their core belief’s, in which we know they can never do.

  10. 13 Peter_scliu
    November 15, 2009 at 19:19

    There is nothing to apologise for by the catholic church. It is trying to be true to their faith. The will of the almighty will correct the church but the pursuit of what is right or wrong will continue to be debated in the hope of following the truth , the light and the way.

  11. November 16, 2009 at 16:46

    Hi WHYSers!
    As a practising Roman Catholic, myself, I cannot disagree with some of what has been said at the top insofar as the abuses which have been meted out by some in the Church – perhaps too many! However, I have and will always be a staunch believer not only in the truth of (a) God and, therefore, the need for goodness as a manifestation of that reality/ fact (?), as well as that experience is the best teacher as to how to understand that consciousness.

    My conversion to Catholicism had all the drama of ‘the call’, in terms of how it transformed my life and gave me a reason to live, even when there was so much emptiness before. I look at that, however, as more a call to and by the Divine, rather than Roman Catholicim, necessarilly. So that, I practise the faith insofar as I am able to, but I am much more a believer in God.

    That being said, I am very aware that there are many who can neither lay claims to such a position, nor should they necessarilly be able to. In any event, every man has to make his or her own determination about belief systems and the purveyors of such ideas. Is the Roman Catholic Church a source for good? I would say yes! But, that is a largely biased position based mostly on my own experiences/ relationship to the Church. Do I agree with everything it says? I am not so sure but I accept it is all part of the process. So, we work wit it!

    • November 16, 2009 at 19:44

      How often do we hear of those who ‘find God’ (a crutch) when they are at a low point in their lives. You either believe in the myth of a God or you don’t. Why does it take points of unhappiness, tragedy and unfullfilment for this to happed? A weakness in a person’s make up I suspect. I’ve had such times, but still remained a committed atheist and Humanist and carried on to make the most of life without any such mumbo- jumbo others presumably need to survive. How sad! In another sense I can understand that those who have a faith have been indoctrinated from childhood by parents, church, and school, and find the rituals, places of worship with there often heavenly like acoustics very seductive, as the churches intended it all to be!

      • 16 Dion Fernandes
        November 18, 2009 at 12:25

        Hi Ivan: am a cradle Catholic. Yet I didn’t find God at a low point in my life- He found me! Yes, I have been indoctrinated by parents, church and school. I have also been educated by the same. I have accpted education and Church doctrine both willingly, because these are the folks I trust. How is it that you find it so easy to accept everythinbg else as the truth, yet find the idea of God to be mumbo-jumbo. I do not find rituals to be “seductive”, they are a form of gratitude to the Almighty who created me, family and ancestors. and who also sacrificed His only Son so that we may have access to eternal life.. it’s great that you are a committed Atheist and Humanist- does that include ridiculing things you do not accept and understand? Or does it involve putting yourself as the creator of your own universe?

  12. 17 Tom Morgan
    November 17, 2009 at 14:07

    Yes, I think my Church, with all of its very human shortcomings, is a very good influence on our raggedy world of the present.

    As a secular institution composed of fallible men and women, the Church’s secular body is susceptible to the corruptions of our world as any of us. However, there are none who can claim that the Church is the exclusive source of the evils it is accused of. The complete truth of the matter is that our world is infected by many social diseases like greed, hedonism and a variety of perversions and abominations. What transpires in the Church is but a reflection of a wider problem that infects all levels of society and all of our institutions. We have stepped away from the light of wisdom and reason to become animals ruled by our apetites and our whims.

    More to the point, no institution managed by man can withsdand the scrutiny to which the Church is subjected throughout the whole of 2000 years of history. Even so, the Church’s shortcomings cannot possibly be more important to Mankind than the Church’s defence of a Faith that preaches love and values meant to help us live well with one another that are as crucial to our Global Human Society of today as they were at the dawn of Classical History.

    If that is not enough, think on the good that is done on a daily basis by the Catholic today. There is practical good done in CHARITABLE PROGRAMMES, in EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMMES, and in the PROMOTION OF WORLD PEACE. There is social good obtained from the Church’s stands on the ETHICS in human relations and on painfully controversial but very necessary DEFENCE OF HUMAN RIGHTS and the DEFENCE OF ALL LIFE. There is a wealth of spiritual good obtained from the Catholic Church’s KEEPING OF GOD’S TRUTH and the Church’s availability to provide the peoples of the world with access to SPIRITUAL FULFILMENT.

    After all, some of us hunger for Justice, Consolement and Peace that world, its governments, its trinkets and its pleasures cannot provide.

    • November 18, 2009 at 01:35

      It is not that the Church is the exclusive body of evil. The charge is that this, supposedly, saintly order should have been showing others the error of their ways. Instead members, and the Church itself, are having to justify and defend its appalling history of corruption, cruelty and hypocrisy.

      As for all the good claimed to be done. I should point out that in the litany of ‘good works’ listed by the previous contributor, he makes the same mistake as do so many of the Church’s arrogant members. Do they not think that atheist and humanists, such as myself, never support charities and many acts of support to the various god causes mentioned, apart from those with particular Church aspects, in what we do?

      The conceit of the Church is legendary in its belief that, against its historical background of intolerance, cruelty to so many, and the grasping-often by force-of things of material value, it has the gall to claim exclusive rights to acts of goodness. Apart from the fact that so many have at last come to realise the basic evidence on which religion is based is utterly flawed, and at last realise it to be a man made belief, they also realise, at long last, the sheer hypocrisy of the Church’s actions throughout it long misguided history.

      • 19 Dion Fernandes
        November 19, 2009 at 07:23

        Hi Ivan: how do you explain that the first coming of Christ was prophesied several hundred years ago before His birth? Christ is mentioned not only in the Bible, but also in the Vedas of the Hindus and THe Holy Qu’ran.These are man-made beliefs too. Yes religion is flawed. Yes the Church is having to defend its “history” of cruelty, corruption and hypocrisy. These do not form part of the doctrine of the Church. Its members are human-a susceptible as any other- to disobedience and other mortal sins- that are increasing by the day thanks to the media and people as yourself who seek to attack and find fault in anything that is good. Catholic Institutions do not claim exclusive rights to acts of good.This is only your flawed perception. You very well believe the “history of the Church” that was probably written by atheists and humanists such as yourself. You fail to hear the other side of the story before passing your “judgement”.You are blinded by your anger and disgust for the Church and all the good that it stands for.

  13. 20 Mary Jane
    November 17, 2009 at 16:19

    The Catholic Church is a political institution. It was created as such and will always act as one. It is more concerned with its buildings than with its people. The Pope does say fantastic things while the Bishops are in the background scripting his pretty words so that people will go “Ave and Amen” and they are collecting people’s toll to get them into heaven.

    The problem with Catholics is that they are so brainwashed and believe in what their Church says that they are willing to take up guns to defend said “faith”. Oh, hang on, they have done so many times in their perfect umblemished past. Can we trust a church that has built itself upon the blood of many “infidels”. People who belived that disseminating the word of Christ and God was more important that being part of such holy institution.

    If you believe that being a Catholic is more important that being a Christian and defending God rather than the church, you have a serious problem.

    • 21 Dion Fernandes
      November 18, 2009 at 12:36

      Hello Mary Jane.I am a Catholic all my life. I have not heard any “fantastic” things being said by the Pope, at least not any that I haven’t heard before. I have been “brainwashed”- washed clean of the filth that the world and people like you like to throw at us. This is nothing new. You claim that the Church has built itself on the blood of “infidels” in the past, what about the blood of priests, missionaries and religious that is being shed everyday in todays world?. I have not paid any toll to get to heaven – am not that naive to do so. It takes much more than money to do that!
      I don’t believe that being Catholic and being Christian are two different things. The Catholic church is not based on schisms. You have the problem.

  14. 22 Mari Sue
    November 17, 2009 at 19:13

    No person or institution could resist criticism, if their faults alone were taken into consideration. The more you do, the bigger are your chances to make mistakes and have them judged by many, with magnifying lenses.

    As a human institution, the Church enjoys no infallibility; she has to struggle for righteousness just like anyone else, as one can learn right from the Acts of the Apostles. The Church is good because she is far better than her mistakes: on her behalf she has her concrete love and deep compassion for humanity; her courage and wisdom to face evil; her innegotiable commitment to consubstantiate Christ and His reign everywhere in this world. There have been a few bad priests…as also bad teachers, doctors, psychologists, policemen…. Sadly, pedophilly occurs within the Church, families and ultimately in any human environment!

    As a spiritual institution, the Church is the infallible guardian and dispenser of a Revelation that does not belong to her. That is why she cannot adjust to the world’s pragmatic will. If we do not love the Church enough it is only because we do not know her well enough. The ones who do, try to contribute for her perfection, rather than to destroy her credibility: “Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.'” (John 6:67-68)

  15. 23 Timothy Gyuse
    November 17, 2009 at 21:29

    I watched part of the Intelligence2 debate on BBC. I am not Roman Catholic but I felt the this church came under unfair criticism. The debate was not about whether the church is a force for good in the world it was about bashing the church for its stand on issues such as homosexuality and ordination of women as well as the recent revelations concerning abuses by priests in many parts of the world. The church is not perfect…no human institution is.
    Becoming a priest is a choice; celibacy is part of the deal. If you cannot be celibate, do not be a Roman Catholic priest. Homosexuality is against teachings of the Bible (Leviticus 18:22 and others), it is not an opinion of the church. The church will cease to be a church if it denies the Bible. The Bible equally condemns strongly incest, murder, mistreating widows and orphans, accepting bribes and so on, why do we focus on homosexuality?
    Finally is the Roman Catholic Church a force for good in the world? Certainly…my answer to those who disagree are Father Damian in the Hawaiian Islands and Mother Teresa in the streets of Calcutta. For each one of these well known Catholics there are countless unsung priests, nuns, and lay people who are daily toiling in their locations to make the world a little better for many dispossessed and neglected. That is doing real good.

    Timothy T. Gyuse PhD

  16. November 18, 2009 at 11:29


    The debate was on: is the catholic church a force for good in the world. Unfortunately the churches (i’ll put it in your words) “stand on issues such as homosexuality and ordination of women as well as the recent revelations concerning abuses by priests in many parts of the world”, has EVERYTHING to do with it. This opinion and doctrine they follow has real world consequence’s.

    Your comment here also is fallacious “Homosexuality is against teachings of the Bible (Leviticus 18:22 and others), it is not an opinion of the church.” It not only is the opinion of the church, they try to force their opinion into other people and onto world wide communities. Once again, it has real world consequences, and in reality, it matters!! Especially with the church’s latest and greatest feat. Threatening to withdraw their support for the homeless, the poor and children, because Rome supports same sex unity. This has everything to do with whether the Catholic church is a force for good. Stop to deflect the accountability the church is responsible for.

    Your basic argument is as follows: “Look at all the great things in the world the church and the people of the church have done. It’s definitely a force for good. But none of the bad things in the world the church and the people of the church has done count”. Now I’m sorry – but any normal thinking person would see the blatant non-sense and absence of coherency in this.

    It’s just another example of the corrosive effect religion has on people’s ability to think rationally. It makes people bend over backwards to accept immoral and cruel dogma and/or piety as something moral.

    • 26 Dion Fernandes
      November 18, 2009 at 12:42

      Hello Clint- it appears you are a strong advocate of Homosexuality! Well to each his own. The Church no longer “condemns” homosexuals, but the sin of homosexuality. THere is no future in homosexuality and the world that embraces it. Human beings would cease to exist.So it’s as good as signing a death warrant. We cannot bless homosexuals in the hope that their tribe may increase. But I guess they do not want the blessings of the Catholic Church- or do they?
      Do you demand the same accontability from other faiths?

    • 27 Timothy Gyuse
      November 19, 2009 at 00:25

      I appreciate your thoughts. It is difficult to carry out a meaningful debate on a complex issue using sound bites. The failings of the Roman Church is a failing of humanity…unless of course you hold the view that man is the measure of all things in which case whatever we want is right provided we can muster majority support for it. If on the other hand you accept to a higher power that is infinite, then a new vista is opened for seing and discussing.

      I am not Catholic because there are issues and positions that the Catholic chruch holds historical that I do not agree with. This however does not blind me to the good that the church does.

      Again I am opposed to “religion” because religion is man’s efforts and we often get it wrong. Many things have been done in the name of religion that are unChristian and ungodly. Of course if one cannot distinguish between Christianity and “churchianity”, the one being a relationship and the other an institution…we will find that we are yelling at each other behind brick walls.
      My question still is: why do we single out homosexuality, celibate priests and failings of a number of clergy as the litmus test.

      Too many people are trying to recreate the world in their own image and the end result is more chaos. At bottom is what the discussion seem to be about.

      Timothy Gyuse

  17. 28 Tom Noel-Morgan
    November 18, 2009 at 12:05

    “As for all the good claimed to be done. I should point out that in the litany of ‘good works’ listed by the previous contributor, he makes the same mistake as do so many of the Church’s arrogant members. Do they not think that atheist and humanists, such as myself, never support charities and many acts of support to the various god causes mentioned, apart from those with particular Church aspects, in what we do? ”

    It is easy to let our personal feelings blurr the objective view of things.

    Sir Thomas More was a humanist AND a Catholic, just to give one quite obvious example that one thing does not exclude the other.

    Likewise, that the Catholic Church does good works in charity, education, humanitarian aid, diplomacy and the announcement of God’s Truth simply does not exclude the good works done by other organisations. This is not a competition. If anything, we need more people to add their efforts for the common good. In fact, the Catholic Church often collaborates with NGOs, governments, schools and other non-Catholic institutions to achieve common goals.

    What we are arguing here is not that the Catholic Church is the exclusive bringer of good in the world. We are simply saying that the Catholic Church was, is and shall continue to be a force for good in our very troubled and misguided human society.

  18. 29 Tom Noel-Morgan
    November 18, 2009 at 13:20

    “Unfortunately the churches (…) stand on issues such as homosexuality and ordination of women as well as the recent revelations concerning abuses by priests in many parts of the world, has EVERYTHING to do with it. This opinion and doctrine they follow has real world consequence’s.”

    In matters of the customs and appetites of modern Society, The State, the Church and the Individual have different parts to play. The State must construe according to the continually changeable laws of Man and to public opinion, the Church must construe according to the perpetual Truth of Divine Revelation entrusted to it, and the individual – that is you and me – may construe according to his or her conscience.

    Whether this conscience is ruled by conviction or convenience is a matter of individual decision. However, if Civil Society decides to live outside the prescriptions of the Church (and this encompasses subjects such as “free sex”, homosexuality, hedonism, consumerism etc. and all of the needs and consequences of these choices such as use of condoms, abortion, divorce/remarriage, environmental crises etc.) then Society, not Church, must assume responsibility for that choice. Why blame the Church that said “don’t do it” for any disgrace that befalls you when you do do it?

    Society is behaving like the uncouth youth rebelling against his parents for no cause. Be that as it may, Society will always be able to rely on the Church to help them set the house straight because the Church will continue to be true to its principles and the Divine Revelation that was entrusted to her.

  19. November 30, 2009 at 23:46

    Perhaps for just a short time the religious contributors to this site would step off their soap boxes and give some thought to the matter of the Universe: The Bible tells us that God made Heaven and Earth with all its ramifications. However, where in the Bible is there mention of the vast Universe with its millions of galaxies, and whose to denigh perhaps life supporting planets? With some scientists believing that our Universe is just one of many, many others: But we mortals can’t really comprehend a Universe or universes never ending can we? But then, does space go on ad infinitum? I’m sure those of a religious belief have a very simple answer; after all, when were they ever short of an explanation, nonsense or not! Oh! I know, there is a coded explanation in the Bible how God made the Universe/s, go on for ever. And religious believers said that’s good enough for us. It’s not up to us to question it ! Sorry though, it mentions just one, vague Heaven, and definitely only one Earth.

  20. 31 Tom Noel-Morgan
    December 1, 2009 at 13:08

    My dear Ivan,

    I sense a great many doubts in you, which is not a bad thing. If nothing else, it should prompt you to research and find out more about the many ways we can look into the greater Truth that is the universe of God’s creation. However, to clear your doubts to your heart’s content, there is no need to attack the beliefs of others.

    Whether the Bible speaks of a wider universe(s) or not is less important than the fact that it speaks to us of our existence. The Bible is written for our benefit (Humanity’s) and it is fitting therefore that it speaks to us of our reality in existence. Why speak of the far reaches of the galaxy or of parallel universes if we, Mankind, have yet to reach out to our neighbour with satisfactory measure of love, compassion and charity? I don’t think we, Humanity, graduated into that level of awareness yet.

    I, for one, think we have much to discover in our own world and existence before we deserve to venture beyond the confines of our universe.

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