BY ED WEST
STEPHEN FRY and Christopher Hitchens have won a public debate in London in which they argued against a motion that the “Catholic Church is a force for good in the world”.
The debate at Cadogan Hall in Chelsea was organised by Intelligence Squared and featured Tory MP Ann Widdecombe and Archbishop Onaiyekan of Abuja in Nigeria defending the mo tion. But they were routed by Mr Hitchens, the author of God is Not Great, and Mr Fry, who won 1,876 votes against 268.
The archbishop emphasised the social and charitable work the Church did, but Mr Hitchens denounced “institutionalisation of the rape and torture and maltreatment of children” in the Church.
The two atheists attacked the Church’s teaching on homosexuality. Mr Fry accused the Church of being ob sessed with sex, and said: “It’s hard for me to be told I’m evil because I think of myself as filled with love.” He said that priests were “sexually dysfunctional”.
He asked how “the Galilean carpenter” would feel about the wealth of the Church and attacked the hierarchy of the Church and the “twisted, neurotic and hysterical way its leaders are chosen”. On more than one occasion Mr Fry raised his voice, and at one point shouted at the archbishop “So what are you for?” after the Nigerian had said the Ten Commandments would still exist without the Church.
The predominantly hostile crowd soon turned against the prelate. At one point a member of the audience asked the archbishop: “Of which current Catholic policy are you most ashamed?” He received a round of applause.