Winning motion: 'England should be a Catholic country again'

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor

The audience at a debate in London on Tuesday, hosted by the Spectator, voted overwhelmingly in favour of the motion: 'England should be a Catholic country again'.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, author Piers Paul Read and Dom Antony Sutch, parish priest of St Benets Catholic Church,  spoke for the motion,  during  the event chaired by Andrew Neil at the Royal Geographical Society. Lord Harries of Pentregarth, Stephen Pound, MP and Matthew Parris, opposed the motion.

In his speech Cardinal Cormac argued strongly that the Reformation had cut England off from its traditional culture, while Piers Paul Read spoke of the importance of Catholic moral teaching. 

Read said: “Recently the Conservative Party has woken up to the damage done to England’s social fabric by the increasing number of broken homes. There is much cant about protecting the rights of children but, as Pope John Paul II said, the right of a child to be brought up under one roof by its natural parents should be seen as one of the most fundamental of all human rights. And there is no doubt that it would be if children had the vote.

“But children do not have the vote. They have no lobby. No Stonewall. No feminist MPs.”  Instead, he said: "The wretchedness of broken homes, is cascading from generation to generation”.

Stephen Pound who is a Catholic, but was arguing against the motion,  said he did not wish to see the Catholic Church wielding as much power as it had done in the past.

Lord Harries praised the way the Church of England was reacting creatively to changing circumstances.

Describing himself as a 'Protestant atheist' Matthew Parris, gave a witty presentation, saying  he felt Jesus would have been horrified by the "gold, rituals and mantras" of the Catholic Church.

At the beginning of the evening,  247 people were in favour of the motion, 189 voted against, and 226 were undecided. After the speeches, 349 agreed with the motion, 227 were against and just 42 were still undecided.

Tags: Andrew Neil, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, Lord Harries of Pentregarth, Matthew Parris, Piers Paul Read Dom Antony Sutch, Stephen Pound

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