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The Intriguing Saint Thomas More

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The figure of Saint Thomas More intrigues Catholics and non-Catholics alike, and has ever since his death.  Why is that?

1.  A Man for All Seasons-Saint Thomas More was all of these things:  a saint, a politician, historian, a lawyer, a judge, one of the leading intellectuals of his day, a witty jokester, a good family man, Chancellor of England, one of the most gifted writers of Latin or English, political theorist, inventor of a literary genre (utopias), dissident, martyr.  He crammed many lives into one life, and we continue to marvel at this.

2.  Nice guy-So many great figures in history are completely unapproachable,  evil or downright weird.  More on the other hand is the type of boon companion we would wish for, and a dinner guest to be dreamed of.

3.   Drama-More’s life, and his death, are full of endless drama, and would have made a great Shakespeare play.  Shakespeare may actually have had a hand in the play Thomas More, which, mirabile dictu considering it was written under Bad Queen Bess, treats Saint Thomas More with great respect.

4.    Contrast-King Henry VIII has come down in English history as a crowned monster, which is unusual since he initiated the Reformation in England which ultimately triumphed.  As a result of the negative attitude towards Henry, his victims have been generally treated generously by English historians and chief among these is Saint Thomas More.  Here are the words of Sir Winston Churchill on More:

“The resistance of More and Fisher to the royal supremacy in Church government was a heroic stand.  They realised the defects of the existing Catholic system, but they hated and feared the aggressive nationalism which was destroying the unity of Christendom.  They saw that the break with Rome carried with it the risk of a despotism freed from every fetter.  More stood forth as the defender of all that was finest in the medieval outlook.  He represents to history its universality, its belief in spiritual values, and its instinctive sense of otherworldliness.  Henry VIII with cruel axe decapitated not only a wise and gifted counselor, but a system which, though it had failed to live up to its ideals in practice, had for long furnished mankind with its brightest dreams.” ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

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The following is a column posted by Brad Miner of The Catholic Thing on Monday, March 1, 2010 A.D.:

John Timothy McNicholas, Cincinnati’s archbishop from 1925 until 1950, went to a New York convention in 1933 and heard the Apostolic Delegate to the United States, Amleto Cicognani (future Vatican Secretary of State), rail against Hollywood’s “massacre” of American moral innocence and call for the “purification of cinema.” McNicholas took the message to heart and founded the Catholic Legion of Decency (CLOD). As TIME magazine reported in 1934, the organization’s mission was simple: the faithful should stay “away from all motion pictures except those which do not offend decency and Christian morality.” So popular did the Legion’s campaign become that Jews and Protestants joined the crusade, and the organization was quickly rechristened the National Legion of Decency.

The Legion’s descriptions of films were exclusively condemnatory; calling only for protests about and boycotts of films deemed impure. And some of the films CLOD listed have been subsequently delisted by its successor, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Office for Film and Broadcasting. For instance, “Finishing School,” a Thirties production starring Billie Burke, Ginger Rogers, and the too-often ignored Frances Dee, was condemned by CLOD as portraying an “attempted seduction and an accomplished seduction. . . . Protest. . . . Protest. . .” Today, the USCCB rating of the film is A-III, in essence: It’s a quality movie. Go ahead and watch it – you’re grown-ups.

Archbishop McNicholas

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