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By Tod Worner, The Catholic Thing, Sept. 12, 2018
In one of the opening scenes of Robert Bolt’s majestic play A Man for All Seasons, the respected Catholic lawyer Sir Thomas More finds himself standing before the seated and quite truculent Cardinal Wolsey. It was not by accident that Sir Thomas was called before the Cardinal at such a late hour. The summons came as an exercise in power and a peevish sort of punishment. Why? Because Thomas disagreed with the Cardinal’s attempt to gain the pope’s blessing for King Henry VIII’s cynical divorce.
It was a move to massage and manipulate the Truths of the Church to achieve a “satisfactory” political end: The king divorces, marries his paramour, and has children to continue the dynasty. But Thomas More, a man of integrity, saw through this crafty attempt to satisfy appetites at the expense of God’s Law. And the irritated Cardinal huffed:
You’re a constant regret to me, Thomas. If you could just see facts flat on, without that horrible moral squint; with just a little common sense, you could have been a statesman.
Sir Thomas responds:
I believe when statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties. . .they lead their country by a short route to chaos.