Why Do Catholics ...?
Who is a good saint to intercede for religious freedom?
St. Thomas More, the 16th-century English martyr, is a good intercessor. Archbishop Charles Chaput reflected upon him in a recent column for The Witherspoon Institute. He noted how the saint did not waver in faith nor succumb to political peer pressure.
"Why does Thomas More still matter? Why does he matter right now?" the archbishop asked.
"More’s final work, scribbled in the Tower of London and smuggled out before his death, was The Sadness of Christ. In it, he contrasts the focus and energy of Judas with the sleepiness of the apostles in the Garden of Gethsemane. He then applies the parable to his own day and the abject surrender of England’s bishops to the will of Henry VIII: ‘Does not this contrast between the traitors and the apostles present to us a clear and sharp mirror image … a sad and terrible view of what has happened through the ages from those times to our own? Why do not bishops contemplate in this scene their own somnolence?’
"More urges the bishops not to fall asleep ‘while virtue and the faith are placed in jeopardy.’ In the face of Tudor bullying, he begs them, ‘Do not be afraid’ — this from a layman on the brink of his own execution.
"Of course, that was then. This is now. America 2012 is a very long way, in so many different ways, from England 1535.
"But readers might nonetheless profit in the coming months from some reflection on the life of Sir Thomas. We might also take a moment to remember More’s friend and fellow martyr, John Fisher, the only bishop who refused to bend to the king’s will; the man who shortly before his own arrest told his brother bishops: ‘… the fort has been betrayed even [by] them that should have defended it.’"
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