Patron Saint of Politicians

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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.

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  1. “5. Most politicians when viewing the movie “A Man for All Seasons” would probably think that Richard Rich is the hero of the film.”

    That would be funny if it weren’t true.

  2. I often pray, “St. Thomas More, pray for us.”
    I suppose politicians need a patron saint.
    I regard St. Thomas More as a government official/public servant rather than a politician.
    Herewith I apologize in advance. I agree with Orwell. Politics are essentially “coercion and deceit.” That being established and considering the Church (shortly to be outlawed by Big Sister’s Supreme Court) provided a patron saint for politicians. Who is the patroness of prostitutes?
    Lock her up.

  3. I love More, and I’d have to consider him a politician. But maybe St. Pietro Orseolo is more your cup of tea. A Venetian from a noble family, he was wealthy and a naval hero before he was elected Doge. He served for two years, restoring peace to the city, building hospitals and rebuilding the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s. Then he snuck out of the city one night and become a Benedictine monk.

  4. “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.”
    Some thirty years ago my state of Michigan–the only one I’ve ever lived in and I plan to die here–was not doing well. I don’t remember who the Republican was who was running, but I well remember the Democratic candidate. I was a teenager at the time and could not vote. But my parents never missed an election.
    But after one ad on the TV, I was ready to cast my vote for the Democrat. He was going to fix our state. He said all the things my GOP-leaning parents were saying. I ran into the kitchen where Mom was making dinner and said excitedly: “Mr. Smith* just ran an ad on TV and he said XYZ. You should vote for him!”
    My mother didn’t even bother to look up from her pot on the stove. “He’s lying,” she said.
    Every time I hear that some politician is going to do XYZ and it is going to be great, I can hear my mother’s words: “He’s lying.”
    *not his real name

  5. If my memory may be supplemented by poetic license, my father may he Rest in Peace, used to say, Politicians never lie when the truth will serve”. May Truth prevail. ~Amen

  6. In 1529 Wolsey was stripped of his government office and property, including his magnificently expanded residence of Hampton Court, which Henry took to replace the Palace of Westminster as his own main London residence. However, Wolsey was permitted to remain Archbishop of York. He travelled to Yorkshire for the first time in his career, but at Cawood in North Yorkshire, he was accused of treason and ordered to London by Henry Percy, 6th Earl of Northumberland. In great distress, he set out for the capital with his personal chaplain, Edmund Bonner. He fell ill on the journey, and died at Leicester on 29 November 1530, around the age of 57. Just before his death he reputedly spoke these words,

    “I see the matter against me how it is framed. But if I had served God as diligently as I have done the King, he would not have given me over in my grey hairs.” – Downfall and death | Thomas Wolsey – Wikipedia

  7. Your contrast between today’s politician and the nature of a ” true politician” as envisioned by St. John Paul is funny. His selection of St. Thomas More as their patron saint is humorous because you provide an accurate juxtaposition of the incongruity of the two. But, St. John Paul was not only alerting us to the current “rigghed” political system as you do, but, also, how to correct it, as well as the price. Comety may be a flawed example.
    Bill P

  8. St Thomas More was an inspiration for politicians both left, right and center leanings. Most of all St Thomas More was an man of honesty and stood by his principles

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