St. Thomas More

Sharia or Sahara: What’s Behind the Genocide in Nigeria?

Despite its patent absurdity, the meme that terror has nothing to do with Islam never seems to die. A reminder of its tenacity comes from Northern Nigeria where assaults on Christians by Muslims are routinely referred to by government, media, and the “international community” as “clashes.” “Over 2,000 Nigerians killed in Farmers-Herdsmen clashes.” This typical headline [...]

Thomas More and the Politics of Conscience

In 1515, as he wrestled with his decision to join the court of King Henry VIII, Thomas More penned his most famous work, Utopia (“No-place”). The book opens with a debate between More (then chief legal officer of London) and the fictional philosopher Raphael Hythloday (“Spreader of Nonsense”), occasioned by the latter’s refusal to apply [...]

What Has Changed Since St. Thomas More’s Time?

Professor Benjamin Wiker’s new book, Saints versus Scoundrels, introduces readers to some of the “greatest questions” in life and philosophy by imagining what two historical figures might say to each other if they happened to meet up in the professor’s study. Wiker pairs up two such figures—a saint and a scoundrel—in St. Thomas More and [...]

St. Thomas More and London Bridge

If you stand on London Bridge and look east you will see the Tower of London. It was on a small hill behind the Tower that, in 1535, St. Thomas More was beheaded. Thereafter, his head was taken to London Bridge and placed upon a spike for all who came and went across that bridge [...]

Martin Luther: Defender of Erroneous Conscience

Two trials, two appeals to conscience. Trial 1: I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen. Trial 2: If the number of bishops and universities should be so material as your lordship seems to think, then I [...]

The Profit to Be Gained from Praying for Holy Souls

Sometimes you hear stories too good to be true. This was just such a story. It returned to my mind this month as it involves a spiritual work of mercy—praying for the dead. Indeed, as I was to discover, the reported tale was even better than I had been told. We all know what we [...]

St. Thomas More: Defender of Christendom

On July 6, 1535, St. Thomas More spoke briefly on the scaffold, proclaiming himself “the King’s good servant and God’s first.” He was echoing the direction his king, Henry VIII, had given him when he entered his service: “Look first to God and then to King.” More lived and died according to that priority, using [...]

An Archbishop and the Catholic Conscience

Conscience is one of those subjects about which numerous Catholics today are, alas, sadly misinformed. Despite great Catholic minds such as Thomas Aquinas, Thomas More, and John Henry Newman discoursing at length on the question, some Catholics speak of it in ways that have little in common with the Church’s understanding of conscience. The latest [...]

Why Thomas More is the Patron Saint of Statesmen

Wolf Hall, the recent novel-turned-television-series, raises the question of who is right about the actions and legacy of Thomas More (1478-1535) and Thomas Cromwell (1485-1540). The stakes are higher than many realize. As Mark Movsesian explains: In its biased portrayal of More, British history’s great example of religious resistance to state orthodoxy, Wolf Hall is [...]

The Witness of Heroism

“In my beginning is my end.”   ∼ T.S. Eliot In a passage often cited from the Pensees, which the author sets down in grim and graphic detail, Pascal summons the reader to reflect on the awful finality of death.   “The last act is bloody,” he tells us, “however fine the rest of the play. [...]

Thomas More & The Man for All Treasons

It began with an email. A friend had been to London’s West End to see a play called Wolf Hall, a new production by the Royal Shakespeare Company; he asked if I had heard of it? Heard of it? I was tired hearing of it. Let me explain: Wolf Hall is a novel set in [...]

The Perils of Liberal Moralism: On Syria and Thomas More

Law is inevitably informed by morality, but it is not the same thing as morality. When we forget this, when we insist that what is wrong must be unlawful, or that it must be lawful to punish every wrong, we undermine the rule of law. Robert Bolt teaches this lesson memorably in A Man for [...]

The Beauty of Marriage

He stood on principle. He defended the Church. He refused to act against his conscience. He was stalwart in defense of marriage. And in 1535, the king chopped off his head. Saint Thomas More, whose Feast Day we celebrated on July 6, was an ardent defender of the institution of marriage. Among the most admirable [...]

St. Thomas More: From Renaissance Man to Christian Martyr

When we consider the period in Western civilization known today as the Renaissance, we encounter a time of notable change in virtually every area of culture. Visual art was departing from the purely symbolic, representative forms of the Middle Ages and exhibiting a more earthly, mundane realism, and while it continued to concentrate on religious [...]

Abortion: Another Milestone for America

Forty years ago this month, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down every law in the land protecting the right of any child simply to be born.   All at once, amid the sound and fury of imploding statutes, the most dangerous place in America became a mother’s womb. Since Roe v. Wade authorized [...]

A Man for This Season, and All Seasons

A day after the 2012 Summer Olympics closed in London, Joseph Pearce wrote that he felt like his “body had been covered in slime. I also felt a great sense of gratitude that I had shaken the smut and dirt from my sandals and had left the sordid culture of which I was once a [...]

Saint Thomas More (1478-1535)

February 7 (the anniversary of his birth) It was the stubble.  That, more than anything, drew me to Saint Thomas More when I was young.  Of course, I had seen the film version of Robert Bolt’s play, A Man for All Seasons, and I enjoyed it.  You are a bad fellow if you don’t like [...]

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