Guest / Limited Access /

With the presidential election fast approaching and a Roman Catholic candidate in a near dead heat with the incumbent, it's a good time to remember the man Catholics honor as politics' patron saint. In the year Thomas More's patronage was declared, former Christian History editor Elesha Coffman provided readers of this newsletter with some thoughts on that fiercely principled man's career and character. They are worth revisiting:

On November 5, just in time for our presidential election, Pope John Paul II is set to propose Thomas More (1477-1535) as the patron saint for politicians, making him "a model and intercessor for all those who consider their political commitment as a choice of life." While exemplary in many respects, More is not quite a model for all seasons.

Aside from being the author of the satire Utopia, More is best known for opposing King Henry VIII's demand to be recognized as head of the English church. But that decision came at the end of a long and brilliant career. In his youth he was a bright student at Oxford, then a promising lawyer at Furnival's Inn, and almost a candidate for the priesthood; his good friend Erasmus wrote that "the one thing that prevented him from giving himself to that kind of life was that he could not shake off the desire of the married state." More did marry (twice; his first wife died), and he pursued his legal career zealously, gaining royal favor along the way. He hit the top in 1529 when Henry named him chancellor, a position no layman had ever held.

The king greatly enjoyed More's company, often inviting himself over for dinner and taking long walks through More's gardens. He also liked More's theology—initially. When Henry was working on his defense of the seven sacraments, ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueThe Painful Questions about Genetics and Race
Subscriber Access Only
The Painful Questions about Genetics and Race
Mistrust of medicine clouds possibility of treatment for sickle-cell
Recommended‘The Young Pope’ Takes an Anxious Look at the Danger of Doubt
‘The Young Pope’ Takes an Anxious Look at the Danger of Doubt
HBO's unsettling Vatican satire asks what happens when spiritual leaders shirk their own faith.
TrendingAll 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
All 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
More than 3,000 employees in 36 states will be laid off in the liquidation of one of the world’s largest Christian retailers.
Editor's PickMy Missionary Great-Grandfather Led Me to Christ
My Missionary Great-Grandfather Led Me to Christ
But only after I went to Japan in search of his life story.
Christianity Today
The Politicians' Patron
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

October 2004

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.