Review of Rhetoric

In Rhetoric we looked at a couple speeches I found worthwhile. The first is Mama T’s (Bl Teresa of Calcutta’s) speech on accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, which you can read here. The thesis of her speech was that true peace is love; it is of the heart. She chose to highlight the threat to peace that is abortion: "These are things that break peace, but I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing - direct murder by the mother herself."

The second noteworthy speech was what I presented on in class: Pope Benedict's speech to Parliament at Westminster Hall, available here. The subject was the role of religion in the public sphere; his thesis regarding this is that "the role of religion in political debate is...to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles."

Early on in the speech, Benedict refers to St Thomas More. This man was sentenced to death in the very place Benedict was speaking. He was one of the few high-ranking persons to openly oppose Henry VIII and his Reformation; he is an example of subordinating duty to the state, to duty to God. Though he was a servant of the king, he ordered this service rightly in relation to his servitude to God.

Benedict later shows how religion and reason must go together, and not be separated. Religion without reason has led to the errors of sectarianism and fundamentalism, while reason without religion had led to the slave trade, Hitler and Stalin. Both of them are faulty on their own, so they need to go hand in hand.

He reminded the British of their valuing tolerance, non-discrimination, freedom of conscience, and freedom of religion, and then showed how their recent actions towards Christians have violated these values: for example, wanting to get rid of public celebration of Christmas and arguing that Christians in public roles (eg health-care professionals and legislators) should have to act against their conscience.

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