The Intelligence Squared Debate: “The Catholic Church is a force for good” – but there are other forces at work…

I have just returned from the Intelligence Squared debate sponsored by the Wheeler Centre and the St James Ethics Centre on the topic “The Catholic Church is a force for good in the world”.

I found the experience deeply disturbing, and it only a sense of duty to you, dear reader, that has me writing anything at the moment, when I would rather be pondering the meaning of what I experienced.

I took detailed notes of the entire debate, but it would be tedious for both me and you to reproduce it here when you can wait for the recording to come online and listen to it yourself.

I will make a few observations however.

1) The Melbourne Town Hall was full. They audience was both old and young. This is a topic in which people were interested. They were not debating the proposition “Is the Baptist Church a force for good in the world”. I don’t mean to pick on the Baptists, I am just saying that whichever way you cut the question, it at least comes to this: there is recognition that the Catholic Church is a “force”. Julian McMahan, in his opening statements, asked what “a force” meant – with reference to the largest growing “religion” according to census: Jedi Knights. The Catholic Church has been here for 2000 years, and it stirs emotions today as strongly as it did right at the beginning and has always.

2) The speakers “for” the proposition came at the question, as was to be expected, from the perspective of the immense amount of good that the Church does in charitable works, welfare and social justice. They argued that whatever failings might be attributed to the Church, these works outweigh them, so that on balance the proposition must stand. But Julian McMahon began with the important step of mentioning the “God” word: the Church is the People of God. “It is what it is” because they believe in Jesus who was divine, and “Jesus’ central them was that love is the driving force behind the authentic development of the person and society”. This angle was very popular with the audience – Sr Libby Rogerson spoke powerfully of her own experience in East Timor, Africa etc. But here is the question: it is true that the love of Christians has always been the greatest witness to the truth of the Gospel (“See how they love eachother”), but do we wrong-foot ourselves when we present this charity towards our neighbour as the Gospel itself?

3) The speakers against the motion based their arguments on three themes: feminism (Summers), anti-authoritarianism (Kennedy), and sexual libertinism (Marr). Marr was really caustic. Summers arguments were basically that the Church caused poverty by its teaching on abortion and birth control. Kennedy demanded the Church be run by “the people”. Marr twisted the Church’s teachings on sexuality into something that I couldn’t even recognised. But it is instructive that these three arguments are not about whether the Church is a force for good in the world – it is rather about whether or not I as an individual might feel in anyway restricted by the teachings of the Catholic Church. These topics are the same topics of debate that arose in the 1960s and have been with us as a part of the underlying Zeitgeist ever since. They have strong appeal to a great majority of people today, old or young. Because the Church does not endorse, but rather opposes, these themes, She is condemned without a hearing.

4) Catholics who fail to defend the Church’s teachings when the Church is under attack – perhaps in the vain hope that they will gain sympathy – do themselves, the Church and the Gospel no favours. At one point Marr asked the “For” panel point blank “Put up your hand if you think it is a sin for someone who has AIDS to use a condom.” Of course, the phrasing of the question was designed as a trap, but I take my hat off to Julian McMahon for at least stating that he agrees with the Church’s teaching that it is a sin to use artificial contraception. But the other two speakers (on the “For” side) rejected the Church’s position on this matter. They argued that the Church isn’t the hierarchy, and that it is what the people do that make the Church a force for good in the world. It is not well understood, even by Catholics, that it is precisely the unified governance and teaching of the Church’s pastors that holds the Church together. They live in a dream world where they think that all the good which the Catholic Church does in the world would still be possible if everyone were simply left to do what they felt best in their private conscience without the assistance of the authoritative magisterium.

5) Finally, I was very, very uncomfortable at some points. It is not a nice thing to be among a crowd of people loudly cheering and jeering against your community. I applaud the brave people who got up and spoke on behalf of the Church after the main speakers.

Two last comments. At one point, Peter Kennedy referred to the appointment today of Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett as the Apostolic Administrator of Brisbane. “Jarrett is well known as an ultra, ultra, ultra-conservative bishop. George Pell has enormous authority and will endeavour to put people like Jarrett in every diocese. There is no meeting between the people and the hierarchy.”

The last speaker of all was David Marr. He emphasised the world-wide dissent of Catholics from the teaching of “the hierarchy” (the magisterium). He spoke of the “miracle of silence and the miracle of obedience”. “Why do they just sit in the pews and shut up whenever some old priest starts laying into poofters? When are all these good Catholics that the “for” side has been talking about going to get rowdy, really rowdy, and start speaking up?” This comment was met with thunderous applause by the crowd, even by those around me who I know were Catholics.

Finally, the vote. There was a “pre-event poll” taken, as people entered the Hall. This gave 35% “for”, 34% “against”, and 31% “undecided”. The vote after the debate resulted in: 34% “for”, 59% “against”, and 7% “undecided”. Basically, Catholics (or Catholic sympathisers) made up about one third of the crowd. They did not find the “against” arguments convincing. But those who were “against” when they came into the room were not dissuaded by the Catholic side’s arguments, and those who were undecided were convinced by the arguments – such as they were – of the “against” side.

So my final observation after attending this event is that if next year’s “Year of Faith” is to mean anything, or to achieve anything, then we – the Catholic Church from top to bottom – will need to embark upon the “New Evangelisation” with a vigorous determination, and without any illusions about the battle before us. We cannot live in a dream world: if the Church is a force for good in the world – and I truly believe that it is – then we need to be aware that there are other, very influential, forces that are aligned against it. If it were not for the promise of Christ – that the Gates of Hell will not prevail against his Church built upon the Rock of Peter – then I would indeed be fearful for the future of the Catholic Church. But instead we hear Christ’s words: “Do not be afraid; put out into the deep.”

About Schütz

I am Catholic, married to Cathy, father of Maddy & Mia. Since 2002, I have been the Executive Officer of the Ecumenical & Interfaith Commission of the Archdiocese of Melbourne. I was once a Lutheran pastor, but a "year of grace" and soul-searching led me into the Catholic Church. It was a bumpy ride, but with the support of my (still Lutheran) wife, I was finally confirmed on June 16, 2003.
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24 Responses to The Intelligence Squared Debate: “The Catholic Church is a force for good” – but there are other forces at work…

  1. Dan says:

    “I was very, very uncomfortable at some points.”

    I have felt like that many, many times when watching the abc’s Q&A on occasions and at uni lectures, when the lectures feed our young minds with many such ideas. Except, it isn’t presented as argument or opinion, but rather, fact. And so, to say one is Catholic, is, in the minds of many, to be anti-women, a “homophobic” bigot and so on.

    I suppose we should expect all this. Jesus himself told us that He is sending us out like sheep among wolves, and elsewhere he mentions those who will be abused because of Him, the families that will split and so on.

    Yes, I too get “very, very uncomfortable”, and what is worse, I really don’t know what I can do…

    • Schütz says:

      I share your frustration and sense of helplessness, Dan. Me? I just do my job, sing lustily at mass, and teach at every opportunity – the latter because I think misinformation and ignorance is the biggest obstacle we have to overcome. What can you do? Witness via a) your love for all, and b) your faithfulness to the magisterium. The two belong together: truth and love. Read Chs 3&4 of Revelation – Jesus makes it abundantly clear that only those disciples who have both love AND a commitment to truth are acceptable to him. Always remember that it isnt about what gives me a sense of personal validation, but what is true!

  2. Alexander says:

    “Why do they just sit in the pews and shut up whenever some old priest starts laying into poofters?”

    If only it were true – but somehow it seems unlikely that we would hear the Natural Law preached from the pulpit by Priests of the 1960s liberal-hippie-feminist-Spirit-of-Vatican-II persuasion. (Actually, I once heard it remarked that the Catholic Church must be the only institution on the planet for which the fifth column is larger than the other four combined…)

    But maybe with the expansion of the F.S.S.P. in Australia – after all, they are building a new house of formation in Sydney, with the explicit approval and support of Cardinal Pell – we might hope to hear more orthodox voices among the clergy.

    • Schütz says:

      Yes, Alex, I was constantly frustrated by Marr’s lack of any real first hand knowledge of the Church. I have NEVER heard any priest “poofter bashing” as Marr put it, old or young. The worst thing was when Marr accused the Church if teaching people to feel ashamed of being human. The evil one is so clever at twisting the word of God – “did he really say do not eat of this fruit?”

  3. Christine says:

    David, we can join you in singing lustily and teaching at every opportunity and those opportunities come along daily in our interactions with the world. I agree that misinformation and ignorance are the great challenges of our time.

    I am always on the alert when my local newspaper runs articles or letters to the editor concerning things Catholic. When I read something that gives a distorted or inaccurate view of the teachings of the Church I fire off a response to the editor.

    I was gratified to read the opening comments of Archbishop Dolan at the assembly of the American bishops:

    Our urgent task to reclaim “love of Jesus and His Church as the passion of our lives” summons us not into ourselves but to Our Lord. Jesus prefers prophets, not programs; saints, not solutions; conversion of hearts, not calls to action; prayer, not protests: Verbum Dei rather than our verbage.’

  4. Stephen K says:

    Well, David, the moment I heard about this, I thought, “not another so-called debate, not another bread-and-circus exercise!” I’ve never seen a public “debate” – political or religious or otherwise – that ever edified me or demonstrated anything more than hackneyed reductionisms. In my opinion these public forums do nothing to advance thinking or untangle the skeins of reasoning in people’s minds. It is why I early gave up watching programmes like Q&A. And it sounds like the affirmative side did not address, correct or counter the propositions of the negative, or show the flaws in the reasoning or causalities involved. I’m sorry you did your money and lost an evening that could have been more enjoyably spent.

    However, I also realise that this is how we humans often handle issues and questions of all types, especially moral or philosophical ones. The “real” world is the world where people shoot off opinions of all kinds as dogma, instead of as simply “opinions”. We can hardly avoid doing so. By the same token, we can’t spend our life continually beating on our own drums in a state of semi-permanent confrontation. (I think a partial key to world peace would be the resurrection of the subjunctive!)

    Which brings me to the subject of what is the Gospel. My own opinion, formed by my own reflections and failings through life, is that “the Gospel” is at its core a radical or revolutionary call to the human will and heart to place others before oneself or to keep others in mind in just about everything. I think that this is the key to understanding the centrality of the “love God/neighbour” commandments. I say it is radical because it represents a completely counter-intuitive attitude and behaviour and one which I think most of us (and I definitely include myself) do not achieve or often even try to adopt. I don’t want to enter into a debate about “grace” here: I know its theological place. What I’m simply saying is that, in a real sense, the “kingdom of Heaven” which Jesus continually spoke about in parable form is different from what we humans generally keep talking about. It is “not of this world”, not because it is somewhere else, but because we don’t see or feel inclined or are mindful of it when it stares us – in any given situation here and now – in the face. We instead occupy ourselves in discussions about who is in the Church and out of it and so on, whether the “church” is good or bad or whatever.

    The Gospel is to be found, in other words, in counter-intuitive love despite natural or intellectual repugnances, to give force to the ideas of loving enemies or clothing strangers, attending to others needs. It may be that such a presentation just screams out – in our natural minds and hearts – for nuance and qualification: how could we possibly “love” a rapist or mass murderer or just a nasty person? How could we possibly know how to get it “right”? It’s a daunting prospect. Perhaps I’ve inadvertently presented an argument for the necessity of grace, after all. But the cautionary point here is, once we start carving up the cow we get beef strips, i.e. something perhaps digestible, but unrecognizable from the original.

    The ethical arguments, the philosophical speculations and theological attempts will always be with us, both individually and collectively, but I don’t see that they, as such, constitute essential elements of the kingdom of the Gospel. What are those words of Francis – “Preach the Gospel always, with words only if necessary”? In other words, I understand the Gospel as an act and attitude, not a thesis, though it is informed or made sense of by one. But if we make the focus of our energies the thesis and not the act, then we risk losing the point. Thus I don’t see the focus or emphasis of the Gospel as “good to others” as wrong-footed, though unless it is completely unqualified it may be inadequate in more than one sense. Over to you.

    • Schütz says:

      What is it with the subjunctive? On Sunday I overheard a guy discussing the subjunctive with a stall owner at the market, yesterday’s Writers Almanac poem was on the subjunctive, and now you are going on about it! It’s just a bit of grammar guys, not a whole philosophy!

      Anyways, as for what the Gospel is, your “opinion” is noted, and I will deal with it in a whole separate post sometime soon. It’s important, because if we don’t know what teh Evangel is, how on earth are we going to do Evangelisation?

    • John Nolan says:

      Whether the subjunctive be considered defunct or not, and even Fowler opined that its days might be numbered, I, for one, shall persist in its use. Come what may. Quoi qu’il advienne.

  5. Christine says:

    What are those words of Francis – “Preach the Gospel always, with words only if necessary”?

    Unfortunately I think this is a bit of an apocryphal story, not sure if St. Francis ever said it. But, come to think of it, I can think of no more splendid example of one who never separated love of neighbor from the centrality of Jesus Christ Crucified. There is no Gospel without it.

  6. Defender says:

    I attended the debate last night, and I was really disappointed by the way the “For” side represented the Catholic Church. I observed that a lot of weight is carried in how the arguments are delivered. In particular, Marr and Summers appeared to be very convincing or popular because of their delivery (i.e their confident/humorous style), rather than necessarily the content of what they said.

    I know that a lot of what they mentioned was incorrect. For example, Summers saying that the Catholic Church (back in the 1950’s/60’s) offered women only two choices in life, to become a nun or a married mother – not true, what about the option to remain as an unmarried woman & live a single life? Also Marr’s comments on how the Church has negative views on, or generally speaking discourages sexual activity, again not true. If those were indeed Her views then she wouldn’t teach that a marriage is invalid if it is never consummated. Sex, in the right way, is celebrated by the Catholic Church.

    It’s these commonly known attacks, and of course those relating to the Church’s sexual abuse scandal, that I would have expected the affirmative side to be better prepared to rebut. I was left feeling frustrated that they seemed on occasion caught off guard and unable to respond every time with clear & concise counter-arguments.

    Here was an opportunity to show the crowd, in particular the fence sitters, why the Catholic Church is such a good force, and yet in my opinion the affirmative side failed.

    When Marr asked the affirmative panel point blank “put up your hand if you think it is a sin for someone who has AIDS to use a condom”, there was such hesitation in their response, that I think they lost a lot of people right then and there. Surely they
    knew that the condom issue was going to arise? Why not know to suggest abstinence as a preventative method instead?

    When the topic of the sexual abuse scandal was mentioned, I was disappointed that the affirmative side didn’t have at the ready the comparative statistics regarding the far greater prevalence of sexual abuse existing in the home by incestuous male relatives of children, or those working in the school system. Correct me if I am wrong, but I am aware that those cases far outweigh the ones of sexual abuse within the Church. I am not trying to dismiss the atrocities associated with the Church, of course, but I think it’s greatly unfair to typically hold a spotlight on Her alone
    regarding this matter, when really a flood light over all is required if a fair judgement is to be made.

    And as for Peter Kennedy’s gripe with authoritative magisterium or the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, I ask this; how is any society supposed to run efficiently unless there is a hierarchal structure in place? How would we as a nation exist without a government making laws, policing our state? Or a work place without a boss to delegate tasks & make decisions that his/her position of superiority would require? It would be anarchy.

    And in just the same way, if the Catholic Church were left to be, as Kennedy suggested “run by the people”, I seriously wonder how successful it would be.

    Humans are fundamentally flawed, Jesus himself knew this. An analogy I have
    always liked is this: Liken the Church to a Ferrari. A Ferrari is one of the most awesome automobiles ever created, as we know. However, say one day, a bad driver gets behind the wheel and recklessly crashes the vehicle. It’s a terrible thing to happen, all agree, but do we stand back and condemn the quality of the car? Or rather, the bad driver of that very good car? Sometimes within our very good Church, there are unfortunately very bad drivers but nevertheless, She is still a good (in my opinion, great) force in the world.

  7. TJW says:

    I find it difficult to believe so many “undecided” people took the time and money to attend an event on a topic they’re so unfamiliar with that they are yet to have a clear opinion on. I suspect most either fooled themselves into thinking they were undecided even though their previous thoughts and actions suggest they’re not at all, or they knew the only way for their “side” to win was to pretend to be undecided and later convinced of arguments they already believed to begin with.

  8. Adam G says:

    David – the rebel Kennedy’s comments about +Jarrett and Brisbane are off the planet. Jarrett is 74 and is still the Bishop of Lismore. He will have to submit his own resignation in 2012, next year, when he reaches 75. The pope is not (and I am solidly certain on this) going to appoint Jarrett to a major archbrishpric at 74, almost 75. No way, especially as Jarrett is about to resign from Lismore. Let’s be real – he is the administrator because he is almost next door and +Finnegan is now administering the vacant Toowoomba diocese. In normal circumstances he would have administered Brisbane till new appointment. So let’s be realistic. This is just temporary and probably like Toowoomba, Sandhurst and some others coming up, will take time. Hobart is due to come up as well as also Ballarat. So the Vatican bishop-making machine has a lot of major appointments to make in the aussie episcopacy for the next 10-15 years. But how deep and wide is the pot of applicants? I think there are real problems of leadership that have to be faced up to. Besides, +Pell and +Hart both have onlty about 5 years each before their resignations will have to be submitted. Quel surprise!!

  9. Paul G says:

    David, by the sound of your summary, this event was as predictable as predicted.
    As soon as the “for” side bases its case only on social justice and material charity, it has lost. Of course, Marr appeals to the trump card of equality. But, as Anne Summers apparently said, the Church is out of step with today’s acceptance of abortion, contraception, sex as purely entertainment, and sex outside marriage. That is the issue for 99% of the population. If he were to be honest, Marr would have to concede that his objections to the Church’s teaching on homosexuality are meaningless to anyone who accepts her teaching on heterosexual unions.

  10. Adam G says:

    In the light of speculation of upcoming episcopal appointments in Australia within the next 18 months, when many bishops will retire/resign etc, it is worth knowing the mind of the present incumbent of the Papacy, some years back, around 1998 to be factual in a debate in Italy between the then Vicar for Rome and the present pope in regard to the Dean of the College of Cardinals’ views in careerism in the episcopacy and moving bishops from one See to another.
    I quote from a publication at the time –

    “In an interview published in June in the magazine “30 Days,” Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said: “I totally agree with Cardinal Gantin. In the Church, above all, there should be no sense of careerism. To be a Bishop should not be considered a career with a number of steps, moving from one seat to another, but a very humble service. I think that the discussion on access to the ministry would also be much more serene if the Episcopate saw it as a service, and not as a career. Even a poor see, with only a few faithful, is an important service in God’s Church.”

    Interesting views by the then head of the Congregation for the Faith. Could be some bishops moving when Brisbane, Perth, Ballarat, Hobart, Sandhurst and Toowoomba come to have new episcopal appointments.

    • Peregrinus says:

      If anything, these comments suggest that we shouldn’t see bishops moving. When (then) Cardinal Ratzinger said that he “totally agreed with Cardinal Gantin”, he was referring to a suggestion that the former canonical prohibitions on a bishop being transferred from one see to another should be revived. Cardinal Ratzinger went on to suggest that transfer from one see to another might be necessary in the case of “a very large see where experience of episcopal ministry is necessary” but, even there, “it should happen only the most exceptional cases”.

      Unless the pope has since changed his mind, then, we should expect (a) that the existing Australian bishops will mostly stay where they are, and (b) that the pope will normally seek to fill future diocesan vacancies from among the priests of the diocese concerned. In a large see where experience of episcopal ministry is necessary (e.g. Brisbane) he might look in the first instance to the auxiliaries, or to former priests of the diocese who have been appointed bishops elsewhere. Only in “the most exceptional cases” should we expect the translation of a bishop with no previous connection to the diocese.

      • Schütz says:

        Well, perhaps we live in exceptional times… (afterall, we only have to look to the States to see how things have been going of late).

        Of course, there is another option, namely a priest elevated from another diocese, as was the case of Bishop McKenna recently.

  11. matthias says:

    David Marr I have always thought to be a stuck up tosser ,the epitome of secular intolerance

  12. matthias says:

    To me Peter Kennedy looks like a man who is burnt out and he really does not know it .He just keeps on going through the motions of “priest’ and “pastor” because his congregation in exile want him to be there for them,using “god words” but not the ones he was brought up in or trained to use.

  13. Hannah says:

    Obviously Marr has never experienced “the miracle of silence and the miracle of obedience” As for Peter Kennedy, why be surprised? Look at Summers, Kennedy and Marr, all three of them dissent against life..So No surprise there. But the sad part for me as you explained was approval of idiotic comments and anti catholic comments of those who should know better and defend better. Not defending “mother Church” is like not defending your own earthly mother against attack by other sons and daughters gone off rail.

    • Schütz says:

      Speaking of mothers, my friend, Pastor Fraser Pearce, said of the topic: “It’s like having to defend the thesis “Your Mother is a force for good in the world”. How could anyone debate a topic like that?” I think he is right. What we got the other night was a bunch of people having a public debate about our Mother. No wonder we found the whole thing just a little tasteless.

  14. henry says:

    A few years ago, ‘midst the Dawkins/ Hitchens ascendancy, I remember reading somewhere of a response to demands that a Vatican representative debate with the new atheists. The response was along the lines that the people involved (presumably H &D and maybe Fry) did not merit such a debate as their spirit and motivations were frivolous. I thought this was an extraordinary insight.

  15. alexander pope says:

    David I was disappointed to find you criticising those people who spoke for the motion. They did not confine themesleves to the social justice issues which you damn with faint praise. (a cliche but apt, given that wihout sneering you teach the rest to sneer judging from the rest of the stuff here). The proposition that love is the driving force behind the authentic develoment of the person and society is one of the central themes in JPII’s theology of the body – human love is a participation in the life of the Trinity. In short, the centrality of love is not merely about charitable works, it is also about the dignity of the human person. I found your commentary mean spirited and holier than thou. yes more could have been said on behalf of the ‘for’ case, but what was said was good. In defence of the good people who spoke for the motion, condoms in Africa is a tricky question and the town hall no place for dancing on the head of a pin.

    • Schütz says:

      Dear Alexander, I plead guilty to the charge of “daming with faint praise”, but not guilty to the charge of “sneering” at them or at the Church’s work for social justice. Julian’s opening point about love as central to the development of the human person and society was right on the money – but I felt he could have developed this with more robustness both in his content and delivery. I felt that Sr Libby was herself a living testimony to the “good” which the Church represents in the world, and was a strong argument for the proposition. However, I felt that she let down the side in openly dissenting – and not actively giving a defence – of the Church’s moral teaching. Helen Coonan was onto a good thing – an original, left field argument – but was insufficiently knowledgeable of the huge amount of material on this topic (I was glad that the audience did not know that the Vatican Curia has in fact distanced itself from the document she was quoting from – she would have been better off using Caritas in Veritate for her economic argument). So, these are my individual criticisms of the pro-side. They were good, but not good enough for the purpose of the debate.

      As for social justice, I do think there is an issue that we need to sort out here for ourselves. I note this morning that the news from the Vatican includes the information that the International Theological Commission is meeting to discuss various topics, including this one: “the significance of the Church’s social doctrine in the broader context of Christian doctrine”. I wonder what that might mean? Can I describe the problem as I see it?

      I think there is a confusion between the Church’s mission in regard to Jesus’ commandment to “Love one another as I have loved you” and the Gospel, which is the announcement of the Kingdom of the risen Lord Jesus Christ. There is indeed a very close relationship between the two, but I think, for the sake of the New Evangelisation, we do need to be clear on what the relationship is. The Kingdom of God is the Kingdom of his justice, love and mercy. The Gospel itself is the announcement of the coming of that Kingdom. The Gospel declares that Jesus by his death and resurrection has opened the way up for us into the coming Kingdom of God. It calls us to repent of our unjust, unloving, and unmerciful ways and enter into that Kingdom through the risen Jesus. Another way of looking at this is in the terms you use, namely, that by living concretely (bodily in JPII’s terms) in the love of Christ (as he showed it bodily in the Paschal Mystery) we are called to enter into the life of the Holy Trinity.

      By living in justice, love and mercy, we witness to the eschatological reality of the coming of that Kingdom. But justice, love and mercy is not itself the Gospel. The Gospel is that we are called into God’s Kingdom in Christ, ie. into communion with the Holy Trinity. This might seem like splitting hairs, but I do think it is important in order to understand the real nature of the mission of the Church, and the true good that the Church desires to be in the world. I, for one, am very interested to see what will emerge from the ITC!

      I also agree that before a huge and rowdy audience in the Town Hall is not a good place to make fine theological distinctions – but this just goes to show how far we have to go in sharpening the quality of our public apologetics. We can’t shirk the necessity to defend the Catholic faith, even in difficult circumstances and even on the more difficult subjects. If we can’t give a reasonable answer in those circumstances, our faith will continue to appear irrational and unjust to those who demand an answer from us. And to be honest, the speakers for the affirmative should have been ready to answer these charges and tricky questions, or they should not have accepted the invitation to speak. They should have pre-prepared and practiced replying to such questions as that of condoms and sexual abuse, as they were inevitably going to be raised. But that is another big factor in my dissapointment with the debate as a whole – neither side engaged or rebutted the arguments of the other. They passed eachother like ships in the night (or in a storm).

  16. Philip Maguire says:

    I’m sure David Marr doesn’t think it a sin for a person with AIDS to have sex with an uninfected person, condom or not. But I do. I’m also sure David Marr doesn’t think it a sin for men to have sexual intercourse with each other. But I do.

    One thing is indisputable. If the world practised the Catholic Faith AIDS would not be the scourge it is.

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