“Do you know where the Thomas More Church is?”
Ask that question anyplace where Catholicism is a mainstream faith, and the answer is likely “yes.” I’d wager that no other Catholic saint has so many churches named after him as Sir Thomas, the 16th-century religious firebrand and statesman. He crops up like kudzu, including in yesterday’s post about the loud bell of the Thomas More Church in Narragansett, Rhode Island, that is driving a neighbor batty.
Catholics revere More as a martyr because he was beheaded for refusing to say that the authority of King Henry VIII superseded that of the Pope. Even in secular and humanist circles, More is often given a measure of respect, partly for his collaboration with the Dutch Humanist Desiderius Erasmus, and partly because of how More is famously portrayed in the 1966 Oscar-winning movie A Man For All Seasons.
What neither group ever seems keen to acknowledge is that Sir Thomas was also a man who so abhorred Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation that he burned Lutherans at the stake with great relish. One of More’s motives for hating the Protestant heretics was that they dared to read the New Testament in English rather than Latin, which was against the law in England at the time.
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