Why I am not a Saint

Consider these two men, both named Thomas:

The first carried out persecutions; the second gave shelter to the persecuted. The first wrote political polemics; the second wrote liturgy. The first burned his opponents at the stake for heresy; the second was burned at the stake. The first was a lawyer; the second was a bishop. The first was a consummate politician; the second had no guile. The first tried to equivocate between his monarch and the Pope, and was executed; the second was executed because he rejected Catholic doctrine. The first received a fair trial, where he denied all accusations – then confessed his guilt after confession; the second was tortured into a confession. The first went quietly to his death; the second denounced his persecutors, recanted his forced confession, and placed the right hand that had signed it into the heart of the fire so it would be burned first.

Naturally, More is called a saint and Cranmer is not. Now I’m no Christian, but I know whose life seems more Christ-like to me. Of course, this is is the Catholic Church we’re talking about, so perhaps it’s best not to even think about it. The Church of England has only ever canonised one saint, so Cranmer has to do without.

The reason I bring up this comparison is to show the way that certain groups hijack history. It’s almost always small, highly motivated groups who the rest of us are too nice to criticise for reasons of cultural sensitivity. Next up, the ongoing project to demonise the greatest Briton of the second half of the 20th century.


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