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The Catholic Church is a Force For Good in the World

Stephen Fry and Christopher Hitchens battle it out with Archbishop John Onaiyekan and Ann Widdecombe.

The Roman Catholic Church is the oldest institution in the western world and has had a pivotal influence on western civilisation, ranging from matters of state to cultural life and from personal morals to social values and ethics. Increasingly, though, it is being criticised as being a malign influence in debates about some of the most pressing issues of the modern world – overpopulation, Aids, global warming, human rights and so on.

Stephen Fry and Christopher Hitchens battle it out with Archbishop John Onaiyekan and Ann Widdecombe over the motion “The Catholic Church is a Force for Good in the World” in our debate from 2009.


For the motion

Archbishop John Onaiyekan

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria.

Ann Widdecombe

Conservative MP and Catholic convert

Conservative MP and Catholic convert.
Against the motion

Stephen Fry

Celebrated actor, writer and broadcaster

Celebrated comedian, actor, writer, presenter, and activist. His acting roles have included a Golden Globe Award–nominated lead performance in the film 'Wilde', and he has also written and presented several documentary series, including the Emmy Award–winning 'Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive'. He was also the long-time host of the BBC television quiz show QI, with his tenure lasting from 2003 to 2016.

Christopher Hitchens

Writer, broadcaster and polemicist

Writer, broadcaster and polemicist, author of the bestselling book God is not Great. He was a regular contributor to Vanity Fair, The Atlantic Monthly and Slate. His other books include Letters to a Young Contrarian, and the bestseller No One Left to Lie To: The Values of the Worst Family.

Zeinab Badawi

BBC World News presenter

BBC World News presenter.