“The Catholic Church is Beyond Redemption: Pope Francis Cannot Save It”

Wednesday 24 April 2013, 8.45pm | VIDEO NOW ONLINE

Add to Calendar >


Mired in allegations of sexual abuse, corruption in the Vatican and the first papal resignation in six centuries, the Catholic Church is in crisis. Two thousand years of arcane methods, tired dogma and unpalatable lies have left the papacy crippled and out of touch. The secularised West has lost faith in notions of infallibility, of temporal power and of a world in which gay marriage, abortion and the use of condoms remain outlawed. The Catholic Church stands on the brink of entropy, and no amount of confession can save it. It is beyond redemption.

Or is it? In the wake of Benedict’s abrupt departure, Pope Francis has emerged as a beacon of hope for downtrodden Catholics worldwide. Finally there’s a leader who can reconcile the principles of the traditional institution with the needs of young church-goers in search of a spiritual path: a man of humility, concerned for those in want and committed to promoting dialogue between faiths and cultures. Moreover, as Catholicism in the West declines, the numbers of the faithful have surged across Africa and Southeast Asia, which as the West slumps into economic decline, must give grounds for optimism. The Catholic Church has come through a hell of a lot worse over the centuries, and with a new captain at the helm it can surely weather the storm. Pope Francis can save it.

Following last month’s sell out debate on gun control, we’re back for the latest in our series of monthly Versus debates with Google+. This time, we examined the Catholic Church.


Speaker for the motion

Dr Ronan McCreaDr Ronan McCrea

Barrister, Human Rights expert and critic of the Catholic Church, whose research carries a particular emphasis on fundamental rights, secularism and the relationship between law and religion in liberal democracies. He often litigates before the European Court of Human Rights

Colm O'GormanColm O’Gorman (via Google+ Hangouts from Dublin)

Outspoken critic of the Catholic Church. He launched a prominent legal case against the institution in 1998, which he documented in his memoir Beyond Belief: Abused by His Priest. Betrayed by His Church. The Story of the Boy Who Sued the Pope


Speaker against the motion

James AlisonJames Alison (via Google+ Hangouts)

Catholic theologian, priest and author. He is known for his re-casting of basic Christianity, and his interventions in Church life as an openly gay man. He currently works as itinerant preacher, lecturer and retreat giver

Peter StanfordPeter Stanford

Catholic journalist and broadcaster and a former editor of the Catholic Herald. He now writes for The Telegraph, The Independent and The Observer



Jonathan FreedlandJonathan Freedland

Guardian columnist, author and broadcaster



All speakers are subject to change.