Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Thomas More has been canonized in 1935 by the Catholic Church. During his chancellorship between 1525 - 1529 in the campaign against the reformation people were killed and tortured in his name, for example, for the crime of owning an English Bible, something that is quite normal nowadays.

How is it explained that he has been made a saint by the Catholic Church?

share|improve this question
add comment

5 Answers 5

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The closest I can find to an answer to this question is in the final paragraph of this article, which says:

More was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1886, along with other English martyrs, and canonized in 1935. Had he never met death for the faith he still would have been a candidate for canonization as a confessor. From first to last his life was singularly pure, lived in the spirit of his own prayer: "Give me, good Lord, a longing to be with Thee; not for the avoiding of the calamities of this wicked world, nor so much for the avoiding the pains of purgatory, nor the pains of Hell neither, nor so much for the attaining of the joys of Heaven in respect of mine own commodity, as even for a very love of Thee."

(Emphasis mine.)

The implication here is that he was canonized because of his martyrdom, but that even if he had not been a martyr, he may still have been canonized.

This source also supports the theory that he was canonized for his martyrdom:

St. Thomas More ... [was] canonized for his unfailing devotion.

share|improve this answer
    
Wow, you cited one of the articles that I just din my answer. Sorry about that. It is a bit harder to post from a cell phone on this site. :p –  Ben Richards Sep 2 '11 at 1:42
add comment

There are two additional reasons for More's canonization. The first reason is that the Vatican wished to support English Roman Catholics over against the Church of England. Anglican-RC relations at this time were very frosty; and because More had defended papal (as against royal) supremacy in the church, and died for his conviction, he qualified as a martyr.

The second reason had to do with the times. In 1935, when More was canonized, Hitler had been in power for two years. More, in this context, was a great example of a layman standing up for his faith and resisting tyranny. It was a way of encouraging German Catholics to do the same.

share|improve this answer
    
Welcome to C.SE. Great first answer! When you get the chance, please check out our tour and specifically How we are different than other sites - although it looks like you already have :) –  Affable Geek Sep 19 '13 at 16:34
add comment

Catholics argue that More was not guilty of the torture that he was accused of.

In this article, scroll down to the "Smear Campaign" section that speaks about it.

My understanding is that most of the surviving historical records of the time, were written by More's enemies (and executioners) who would have been very much slanted in their accounts, dubious at best. And that the records that indicate that he killed and tortured in the name of the church were only recorded by a handful people.

With the entire political system being turned on it's head by Henry at that time, there would have been plenty of motive to falsely accuse someone seen as a martyr for the opposing side.

share|improve this answer
1  
The fact that at least 6 people were burned during his chancellorship is not in doubt; that he had authority at this time is not in doubt. The article / "smear" you cite is unrelated, and relates to unrelated critiques. Moore did strongly deny taking a personal hand in torture, but is generally reported to have been strongly in favour of burning. –  Marc Gravell Jan 21 '12 at 11:29
add comment

One reason could be because he was "martyred":

he steadfastly refused to take the oath of supremacy of the Crown in the relationship between the Kingdom and the Church in England. Holding fast to the ancient teaching of Papal supremacy, More refused to take the oath and furthermore publicly refused to uphold Henry's annulment from Catherine. John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, refused the oath along with More. The oath reads:

...By reason whereof the Bishop of Rome and See Apostolic, contrary to the great and inviolable grants of jurisdictions given by God immediately to emperors, kings and princes in succession to their heirs, hath presumed in times past to invest who should please them to inherit in other men's kingdoms and dominions, which thing we your most humble subjects, both spiritual and temporal, do most abhor and detest;

Because of this, he was then charged with high treason, and was convicted, and consequently, decapitated. I suppose, the Catholics believed this to be "martyrdom" as More stood for his beliefs rather than compromise, even on pain of death, and so, they canonized him. That, is a possible reason.

Edit: This is not the sole reason he was canonized. This, can be combined with the fact that he had great reputation:

The steadfastness and courage with which More held on to his religious convictions in the face of ruin and death and the dignity with which he conducted himself during his imprisonment, trial, and execution, contributed much to More's posthumous reputation, particularly among Catholics.

share|improve this answer
1  
The people that were tortured and killed stood for their beliefs the same way he did.. And from a modern viewpoint, shouldn't they be canonized long before Thomas More? –  Sven Sep 1 '11 at 8:36
1  
The people killed weren't Catholic, and that's why they weren't recognized by the Catholic Church and canonized –  Cryst Sep 1 '11 at 8:40
    
Alright, the couldn't be recognized by the Church, but it would seem to me, that this would be big reason not to canonize him.. –  Sven Sep 1 '11 at 8:43
1  
What about Saul(Paul)? He received honour and approval, when he was killing the early church Christians. People who oppose God, will be honoured by other people who oppose God. –  Cryst Sep 1 '11 at 8:48
3  
A "possible reason" or "one reason could be" is not exactly what people are looking for when they ask a question on a QnA site that focuses on canonical correct answers. Please find some sources that speak to exactly why this subject or let somebody with expertise in the subject matter answer. –  Caleb Sep 1 '11 at 9:35
show 3 more comments

Quite simply, because he fulfilled the requirements of canonization, described here: http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0136.html

It appears that the main reason for them opening the canonization proceedings for More was his martyrdom:

More was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1886, along with other English martyrs, and canonized in 1935. Had he never met death for the faith he still would have been a candidate for canonization as a confessor. From first to last his life was singularly pure, lived in the spirit of his own prayer: "Give me, good Lord, a longing to be with Thee; not for the avoiding of the calamities of this wicked world, nor so much for the avoiding the pains of purgatory, nor the pains of Hell neither, nor so much for the attaining of the joys of Heaven in respect of mine own commodity, as even for a very love of Thee."

Source: http://www.marys-touch.com/Saints/more.htm

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.