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.
Speaking for the motion were barrister and human rights expert Dr Ronan McCrea and Colm O’Gorman, an outspoken critic of the Catholic Church.
Speaking against the motion were Catholic theologian, priest and author James Alison and former editor of the Catholic Herald Peter Stanford.
The debate was chaired by Guardian columnist, author and broadcaster Jonathan Freedland.
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