Realpolitik meets conscience. It is a superb scene and our sympathies are enlisted, as they should be, on the side of Saint Thomas More as opposed to that ultimate player of power politics, Cardinal Wolsey. As was said about another Cardinal, Richelieu, by Pope Urban VIII upon the death of Richelieu, the same might also have been said about most of the life of Wolsey: “If God exists, Cardinal Richelieu will have to answer for many things. If not…, then yes, he will have done well in life” (Si Dieu existe, le cardinal de Richelieu devra répondre de beaucoup de choses. Sinon […] ma foi, il aura bien réussi dans la vie).”
Compared to such an ecclesiastical politician, Saint Thomas More represents the startling clarity of a brilliant mind allied with a warm Catholic faith. One might wish however, that along with the innocence of doves, defenders of the Church in England during the time of Saint Thomas More had also possessed a bit more of the cunning of serpents.