Weekly update 22/09/2010
Posted by Jacob Rees-Mogg, MP for North East Somerset, at 10:36, Wed 22 September 2010:
The Pope’s visit to the United Kingdom has been an occasion of great joy especially for Catholics. I was privileged to be at his address to both Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall. In this he defended the role of religion in public life, one that has been marginalised in recent years.
The Pope said that reason needs to be balanced by religion. What this means is that following logical arguments to extremes can create great wrongs. For example, when the slave trade was being debated the slaves were considered by some to be property rather than individuals. It was a religious belief that valued the individual soul that drove Wilberforce and his associates to stop the slave trade.
This happened over two hundred years ago but the same risk of unbridled reason applies today. Often convenience and cost effectiveness can seem compelling arguments as with the debate over euthanasia. Yet a religious belief that values all human life looks to a higher level and can in the Pope’s words ‘help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles’.
If this combining of religion and reason can be achieved then a strong society would be built. It would be based on tolerance and mutual respect recognising ‘the dignity of the human person’. It would not be the purely utilitarian society that the exclusion of religion could create. To have the Holy Father state this so authoritatively to our legislators may well help it to happen.