Debate allows participants to play devil’s advocate against Church


Photo by: Isaac Iniguez

On March 21, students, faculty and visitors met in the Fireside Lounge excited to participate in a Devil’s Advocate Dumb Ox Debate on whether or not the Catholic Church is a force for good in the world.

The motion in question in this thought-provoking debate was: “This House believes that the Catholic Church is not a force for good.”

On the affirming side of the debate, three presenters — sophomore Nick Larkins, sophomore John Selle and junior Alex Denley — spoke powerfully against the Church’s presence in the world.

On the opposing side, sophomore David Hahn, sophomore Heather Kamataris and sophomore Clement Harrold took on the task of defending what they believed to be the greatest force for good in the world: the Church.

Denley opened the night by calling out the Church for corruption and unjust hierarchical structure of its leaders. Hahn followed in opposition, saying that the Church is “fundamentally an institution primarily for the sanctification of people.”

Both sides of the motion defended their side of the debate throughout the evening, with each speaker jumping in to layer on interesting points.

The floor was opened to audience participation, and Alex Plato, a Franciscan University professor who holds a doctorate in philosophy, stood up and delivered a devil’s advocate speech concerning the abuse of power within the Catholic Church. He said that as an institution, the Church is enabling people to be corruptors; thus, the Church is not a force for good.

Scott Hahn, a professor at Franciscan University who holds a doctorate in systematic theology, joined in to argue in favor of the opposing side. He said that although the Church is subject to abuse and corruption, it does not discredit the fundamental truth that it is a force for good.

The debate ended with closing remarks from both the affirming and opposing sides, which brought the debate to the concluding vote by the audience. The vote resulted in a parliamentary opposition to the House’s claim that the Catholic Church is not a force for good.

The Dumb Ox Debate was hosted by the Veritas Society.

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