St Thomas More, God?s servant first

John M. Samaha SM

St Thomas More, patron of statesmen and politicians, serves as a model of charity, courage, and fidelity for all seasons. Like many today, he was challenged in 16th century England to rise to the defence of his faith and the liberty of the Church. John M. Samaha SM?is a member of the Marianist community in Cupertino, California.

In the play and film, A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt, Thomas More is deftly portrayed as a martyr of conscience. He is unyielding in his stance against King Henry VIII?s move to divorce Katherine of Aragon to marry Anne Boleyn. Ours is a season in which Christians face the challenge of remaining true to the faith despite political pressure, the threat of sanctions, and the stigma of social ostracism. Secularism is rampant.

King Henry VIII weakens
The reign of King Henry VIII began with much hope for England. In fact More had called Henry ?the everlasting glory of our time?. But gradually the situation deteriorated, and after 17 years on the throne and 17 years of marriage to Katherine, Henry began an affair with Anne Boleyn. Nor was it his first affair. Determined to put Katherine aside and marry Anne, he asked the pope to declare his marriage invalid.

The 16th century was a tumultuous time for the Catholic Church in Europe. England had experienced occasional conflicts between the Church and the crown, but now the Reformation was in full swing. Martin Luther had already separated much of Germany from Rome.

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