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Archived Online Discussion
Topic: St. Thomas More: Model for Modern Catholics
Date: 5-6 pm (ET)
on Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Carl A. Anderson
Supreme Knight
Carl A. Anderson:
Thank you for joining us this evening as we discuss St. Thomas More: Model for Modern Catholics.

Former State Warden Robert B. Camilleri
Honolulu, Hawaii
Why aren't more Catholic politicians standing up for the truth of Church teaching when it comes to the issue of abortion? St. Thomas More would have expected nothing less from today's politicians.
Carl A. Anderson:
I think the lesson of St. Thomas More is that while we hope many will imitate his example, the reality is that not many do. But there are always some who stand on principle. We think of Henry Hyde, Chris Smith, and now Bart Stupak in Congress, who have all been outspoken champions on the issue of life. The root of the question is the formation of the Catholic conscience, which among politicians seems to be in short supply - then as now. But we would do well to reflect on what it is that helps to form a Catholic conscience, and what we can do to help the next generation develop it.

albert cabaluna
lipata minglanilla cebu city philippines
good day worthy knight what are the things that can you do to protect the church through the knight all over the world since there are people who wants to destroy our faith and love to god by making wrong ways through abortion, how can we tell the people why the catholic faith is important.
Carl A. Anderson:
The best argument is to show them through our own witness. I would also suggest that people read Pope Benedict XVI's new encyclical Caritas in Veritate, and John Paul II's encyclical, Evangelium Vitae to help form their conscience on these matters.

David Baba
San Clemente, Ca 92673
Was it considered extreme at the time to scourge oneself? I find this somewhat disturbing and perhaps signs of an underlying mental disorder.
Carl A. Anderson:
We need to remember that this goes back to a time when people had a very different idea of corporal punishment - people were drawn and quartered for instance. So we need to keep this in the perspective of its time.

New Haven
How accurate was the movie a Man for All Seasons? Someone told me that More didn't die for the right of conscience but for the right principle of conscience. What's your take?
Carl A. Anderson:
I don't think Thomas More would have seen the question in those terms. He was willing to face martyrdom, rather than betray his faith. We like to view this in terms of a general right of conscience, especially those who are not believers. But remember what More said. "I die the King's good servant, but God's first." That is something different from a right of conscience.

Everett C
Johnson City Tenn
What can Thomas More do for men today as they struggle to meet the challenges of the economy and the high divorce rate?
Carl A. Anderson:
Certainly the divorce is a problem, though we have dealt with it better than Henry VIII did. At the same time, More in his actions in overcoming the difficulties in his first marriage is an excellent example of working through a problem rather than running away from it. More's fundamentally Christian view of relationships led him to die rather than compromise on that view and that certainly sets the bar high for those who might be tempted to walk away from a marriage that suddenly seems difficult or inconvenient. Martyrdom is the ultimate gift of self, and a gift of self is ultimately an essential part of marriage as well.

South Bend, IN
St. Thomas More seems like a role model in a way unique from the manner in which most people view him. It seems from this book and what I have read elsewhere, that he was very discreet and wasn't looking to attract attention to his disagreement with the King. Is there a lesson in this for us today?
Carl A. Anderson:
More's modesty stems from the realization that one cannot win such a contest with the king, which makes his resolution all the more heroic. The lesson of More is that it is not how outspoken someone is, but how deeply committed they are that matters most in the end.

Vincent K
Reston VA
You've written about Thomas More before. Why is he so important for the Knights of Columbus? Is there a prayer to him that we could use?
Carl A. Anderson:
He was a man tremendously committed to his marriage and his family and willing to be engaged in the public order and the civic and political life of his country. He was also very much a part of the cultural conflicts of his time through his writing. I don't have a prayer to St. Thomas More, but I have a prayer by St. Thomas More that I have included in the Knights of Columbus prayer book that he wrote while imprisoned in the tower, in which he prays that all those that seek to harm him, that he and they be saved together in heaven.

Phoenix, AZ
Thomas More seems to have taken a very enlightened position in dealing with the problems of his first marriage. To what do you attribute this?
Carl A. Anderson:
I think it is not enlightenment so much as a deep spirituality and understanding of friendship, both of which were such a great part of More's life.

New York City
I read that Mario Cuomo, the former NY governor, kept a picture of Thomas More in his office, though he supported abortion. What do we do about people who use saints to justify themselves like that?
Carl A. Anderson:
The better question is whether Thomas More would have had a picture of Mario Cuomo in his office. The thing to remember, of course, is that More did not state his right of conscience in opposition to the Church. Obviously More could have kept his office as Chancellor - and his life - if he had found some way to publicly accept the morality of the King's divorce, even while remaining privately opposed.

Glendale, CA
What is the most important lesson that you draw from Thomas More's life?
Carl A. Anderson:
I think the lesson is the same as it is with every martyr of the Church. The demands of Christian discipleship are heavy - and sometimes dying to yourself is more than just figurative. The other key element of his life is the importance of integrity in our decisions and our actions.

Carl A. Anderson:
Thank you very much for joining us this evening. Join us, next month as we discuss "Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mother of the Civilization of Love," which I co-authored with Msgr. Eduardo Chavez.

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