You’re a constant regret to me, Thomas. If you could just see facts flat-on, without that horrible moral squint… With a little common sense you could have made a statesman.
Cardinal Wosely to Sir Thomas More, A Man for all Seasons
(A repost from 2010. It seemed very appropriate today.)
In this political season I was curious as to which saint was the patron saint of politicians. Much to my shock I learned that on October 26, 2000, Pope John Paul II proclaimed Saint Thomas More as patron saint of politicians and statesman. It was an inspired choice, but I think the average politician might find Saint Thomas More difficult to emulate.
1. As far as I can tell, Saint Thomas More always told the truth. Most politicians seem to regard lying as a job requirement or a job perk.
2. Saint Thomas More was noted by contemporaries for not taking bribes. Such honesty was just as rare among politicians then as it is now.
3. As Cardinal Wolsey, unforgettably portrayed by Orson Welles, noted in A Man for All Seasons, Saint Thomas always viewed issues of public policy with a “moral squint”. Most politicians would view this as a severe handicap.
4. Saint Thomas gave up the highest office in England over a matter of principle. I am afraid the average politician’s reaction to this would be, “You have got to be kidding”.
5. Most politicians when viewing the movie “A Man for All Seasons” would probably think that Richard Rich is the hero of the film.
6. Saint Thomas was willing to die rather than to compromise his beliefs. I doubt if most politicians would be willing to have a hangnail rather than to compromise their beliefs.
7. Saint Thomas was witty, a brilliant writer and an original thinker. Most politicians are dull, plagiarists and barren of ideas.
8. Saint Thomas had a huge respect for the Law. Most politicians have a huge respect for what they can get away with.
9. Saint Thomas had a happy family life. Most politicians recall their families only after they are embroiled in a career ending scandal and then retire to spend more time with the family they have hitherto studiously ignored.
10. Saint Thomas resides in Heaven for eternity. Most politicians will spend eternity in…well, hope springs eternal.