Patron Saint of Politicians?

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, in the video clip above noted, 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.

13 Responses to Patron Saint of Politicians?

  • Patron saint for politicians??? BARF!

    If a patron for politicians, then a why not a patron for practitioners the world’s “oldest profession”.

    B/G Meagher’s speech from the dock:

    “Proceed, then my lords, with that sentence which the law directs — I am prepared to hear it — I trust I am prepared to meet its execution. I shall go, I think, with a light heart before a higher tribunal — a tribunal where a Judge of infinite goodness, as well as of infinite justice, will preside, and where, my lords, many, many of the judgements of this world will be reversed.”

    Patron of politicians: Why St. Thomas – polar opposite: antipolitician!

    An patron saint for pure (nothing is pure in the fallen world) evil: it isn’t right. If so, I nominate Judas Iscariot and Caiaphas. Take your pick.

    Meagher was sentenced to death, but was transported to Australia from whence he came to America and the rest, as they say, is history.

  • Looks like someone has been watching Letterman’s “Top ten”? Nice blog post!

  • Nicely done, Don. As he is also the patron saint of lawyers, it may have hit a little too close to home if you had explored the differences between St. Thomas More and most practicing lawyers.

  • If a patron for politicians, then a why not a patron for practitioners the world’s “oldest profession”.

    Ask and you shall receive. That would be St. Nicholas.

    :-)

  • “it may have hit a little too close to home if you had explored the differences between St. Thomas More and most practicing lawyers.”

    That post will be coming John Henry, but not today!
    :)

  • I keep a picture of St. Thomas More on my office wall to remind me what happens to lawyers who tell the truth.

  • Well, T. Shaw, it is supposed to be a patron Saint. The two you identified are not confirmed as saints. They may be more typical of politicians, but the aim should be for the ideal.

  • I apologize.

    St. Thomas More, pray for us!

    My occupational patron saint would be St. Matthew the Apostle, accountants and bankers.

    St. John Baptiste de la Salle, pray for us.

    Live Jesus in our hearts, forever!

  • I keep a picture of St. Thomas More on my office wall to remind me what happens to lawyers who tell the truth.

    I have a crucifix for a similar reason.

  • As it regards #7, if I hear one more politician use the words “ship,” “of,” and “state” in sequence one more time, I swear I will explode!

  • As I see it St. Thomas More was not entirely a “politician” in the American sense of the word because he was not elected by vote of the people — he was appointed by the King. His role was more comparable to that of a Cabinet official or an appointed judge, administrator or agency head whose job it is to advise the king/president/governor/mayor/other executive and to help them carry out their policies as wisely as possible.

    When he could no longer support those policies, he resigned — and there have been plenty of instances in which appointed officials, agency heads, etc. have done just that as a matter of principle. (The best known example on a national level perhaps being the “Saturday Night Massacre” during the Watergate era.)

  • Interesting observations as usual Elaine and correct in part. However, in the time of Saint Thomas the posts he held were highly political in nature. The King of course cast the initial vote to place the person into an office. Normally the person seeking to gain such an office would seek to woo the King in a manner not dissimilar to the way today most politicians attempt to flatter and woo voters. Saint Thomas would have none of that. He was appointed to his posts through share ability and character: rather in the same fashion in which George Washington had the offices of commander in chief, President of the Constitutional Convention and President of the United States thrust upon him.

    After a man was appointed by the King in the time of Saint Thomas, the true politics began as the inidividual had to seek to keep happy the King, the Church, the nobility and the commons. If an individual failed in that task, Henry was quite capable of sacrificing anyone, and blaming unpopular policies upon an “evil counselor”. This of course is what happened to Cardinal Wolsey before Saint Thomas, and Thomas Cromwell after Saint Thomas, and a host of other officials of King Henry. Political skills of a high order were necessary to survive. Saint Thomas had those skills, as indicated by his popularity as Chancellor. Yet he chose to sacrifice everything on a point of principle by resigning. I think he knew by doing so it would ultimately cost him his head, since he knew King Henry well, and was quite aware of his vast cruelty when his passions were roused. The “Saturday Night Massacre” you cite is inapposite. Elliot Richardson and William Ruckelhaus resigned to the cheers of most of the opinion organs in our country. They enjoyed highly successful careers afterwards. Their resignations cost them nothing, unlike Saint Thomas, whose resignation cost him everything in Earthly terms. Individuals willing to do that are a rare breed indeed.

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