Friday, 27 August 2010

The Celibacy Debate Tuesday 14th September, London

Stand-up comedian Frank Skinner to join academics and clerics for major celibacy debate.

Pope Benedict XVI recently said that celibacy is "The sign of full devotion, the entire commitment to the Lord.” Is he right or has the time now come to openly challenge that view? Leading Catholic thinkers, clerics and celebrities to have a live public debate on the vow of celibacy.

I am staging a debate on the contentious and topical issue of celibacy in the Catholic Church on Tuesday 14th September 2010, two days before the visit of the Pope to the UK.
The motion for the debate will be: 'Celibacy should no longer be a compulsory requirement for the Roman Catholic priesthood'.

Speakers for the motion are:

Professor Tina Beattie, Roman Catholic theologian, writer & broadcaster, Roehampton University

John Deery, award-winning writer/director

Helena Kennedy QC, leading human rights lawyer

Fr. John McGowan, Order of Carmelite (OCD), Roman Catholic priest

Speakers against the motion are:

Bishop Malcolm McMahon, Roman Catholic Bishop of Nottingham

Frank Skinner, stand-up comedian and broadcaster

Jack Valero, Communications Director Opus Dei UK and Coordinator Catholic Voices

Fr. Stephen Wang, Dean of Studies, Allen Hall Seminary

The evening will be Chaired by Ernie Rea, broadcaster and presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Beyond Belief.

The debate will take place at the Odeon London West End Cinema, 40 Leicester Square, London WC2H 7LP and will be preceded by my film, Conspiracy of Silence. The film has received awards at international film festivals including winning the Freedom of Expression Award from the prestigious National Board of Review (NBR) in the USA, which was shared with Mel Gibson for The Passion of the Christ and Michael Moore for Fahrenheit 9/11.

The film is inspired by true stories and real events researched from Catholic priests in the UK, Ireland and Italy. The screenplay was developed at the Sundance Screenwriters’ Lab in the US and deals head on with the issue of celibacy.

I am delighted that so many leading Catholic thinkers have agreed to debate this most important of subjects facing the Catholic Church. The celibacy issue has become increasingly contentious as vocations to the priesthood have fallen so dramatically. The Church's refusal to face this growing crisis, alongside its alleged culpability in multiple child abuse scandals points to an internal inertia and denial which must be challenged. Sexuality and celibacy are at the heart of the matter.

Bishop Malcolm McMahon said “I am pleased that I have the opportunity to put across the Catholic Church's view on the vow of celibacy at this important time in our history. The speakers John and his team have assembled are first class and I am sure we will have a most enjoyable and enriching evening.”

Running order:

6pm – Arrival
6.30pm – 8pm – Conspiracy of Silence screening
8.00pm – 8.30pm – refreshment break
8.30pm – 10pm – Celibacy Debate

Tickets £30 available from 020 8392 1936 or on line at

For press enquiries please contact: Conspiracy of Silence Ltd on 020 8392 1936 or email:

For more information about the film please visit:

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