In light of Pope Benedict’s recent and shocking resignation (the first resignation of a pope since the Middle Ages), the fiery polemics of the late author, journalist and atheist Christopher Hitchens have been revisited for their damning investigative reporting of Joseph Ratzinger and the abuse cover-ups of the Catholic Church.
In a memorable event in 2009, a debate was held at the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster, where Christopher Hitchens and the British Actor Stephen Fry argued against Archbishop Onaiyekan and Ann Widdecombe on the motion, “The Catholic Church is a Force for Good in the World.”
Adding an interesting dynamic to the electric atmosphere that evening, the audience was polled before and after the debate as to their positions on the motion. Before the debate, those that were for motion were numbered at 678; those against were against 1,102; and those who were undecided were at 346.
As a powerful testament to the persuasiveness of Hitchens’ and Fry’s arguments, the tally at the end of the debate stood as follows:
To put it simply, after hearing the speakers the number of people in the audience who opposed the idea that the Catholic Church is a force for good in the world increased by 774.
The original broadcast of the debate lasted more than an hour, but the BBC aired a clip that highlighted some of Christopher Hitchens’ most confrontational moments, laying out the church’s history of war, silence during genocide, torture, and most notably the recently resigned Pope’s role in the cover-up of child sexual abuse.
Watch Hitchens’ speech in the video below.