Latest

13 Jan 2016 Q&A Comments (3)

Are Catholics required to tithe 10 percent of their income to the Church?

Full Question Are Catholics required to tithe 10 percent of their income to the Church? Answer Catholics are under no obligation to tithe a certain…

Read more

29 Sep 2015 Middle East - Africa News No comments

Wave of violence in Central African Republic, site of November papal visit

Violence has flared in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic and site of a papal visit in November, according to a wire service reports. The As…

Read more

30 Sep 2015 News USA No comments

Francis 2.0 emerges in America: Pope and Church are a package deal

WASHINGTON – From the beginning, there’s been a popular tendency to pit Pope Francis against the institution he leads. He was swiftly styled as a maverick and a…

Read more

03 Dec 2014 Q&A Comments (35)

Why is the pope called the "Holy Father" instead of just "Father"?

Full Question Why is the pope called the "Holy Father" instead of just "Father"? Answer Catholics call the pope "Holy Father" not as an acknowled…

Read more

11 Dec 2015 Articles Comments (1)

Responsible Parenthood Guide by Pope John paul II

General audience of August 1, 1984. 1. For today we have chosen the theme of "responsible parenthood" in the light of the Constitution "Gaudium et spes" and …

Read more

19 Oct 2015 News USA No comments

'Genuine religious faith' is a force against terrorist savagery, Holy See tells UN

The papal nuncio to the United Nations on Wednesday stressed the religious rejection of the “utter savagery" of terrorism and violence. “Genuine religious fa…

Read more

01 Oct 2015 News USA No comments

Stop 'corporate welfare' for Planned Parenthood, pro-life Democrats say

The House on Tuesday passed a bill allowing states to withhold Medicaid funds from health care providers that perform abortions. The Women’s Public Health an…

Read more

29 Sep 2014 Vatican Comments (12)

Pope Francis: Satan seduces by disguising evil as good

Vatican City, Sep 29, 2014 / 06:31 am .- On Monday’s feast of the archangels Pope Francis spoke of the ongoing battle between the devil and mankind, encouraging…

Read more

23 Oct 2016 News Comments (1)

Bill to end disability-selective late abortion passes second reading

A Bill to prevent late term abortions of disabled babies has moved to the next legislative stage A Bill which seeks to stop discrimination against disabled bab…

Read more
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
«
»

Thomas More and John Fisher: two saints who died for the integrity of the Catholic Church

Today the Catholic Church celebrates two great English saints and martyrs. I am forever grateful to my history master at Ratcliffe College, back in the day, Fr Bill Curran, who explained this great truth to me: “They were martyrs because they were saints, not saints because they were martyrs." How true that is! Both John Fisher and Thomas More were men of exemplary life, one a bishop, one a lawyer and family man. And it was because they lived such upright lives that they were content to be martyred for the faith.

It is often held, correctly so, that Fisher and More were martyrs for the rights of conscience. Certainly, both men believed, as does the Church, that there are certain rights that the State can never arrogate for itself, and that includes those matters which are matters of conscience. But to see Fisher and More going to their deaths for freedom of religion, and for the rights of the individual against those of the over-mighty state, victims of Tudor totalitarianism, is only part of the story.

Both died for the integrity of the Catholic Church. Both firmly held that what Henry VIII wanted to do was not simply wrong, but impossible. A King could not be head of the Church; there was no such thing as the Church “of England"; there was one Catholic Church, holy and indivisible, under the visible headship of the Vicar of Christ, the Pope. The Pope of the day, Paul III, understood this, as that is why he made Fisher a cardinal, much to the fury of Henry VIII. The scarlet of the Cardinalate is the sign that members of the Sacred College are prepared to shed their blood for the faith, yet St John Fisher remains the only Cardinal who has ever been martyred. Contemporaries of Fisher and More also understood that the Papal Supremacy was what was at stake, and many of them, such as Bishop Bonner, indulged in some very impressive mental gymnastics to try and find reasons for the royal supremacy in the Church’s tradition.

But the royal supremacy, then as now, was never more than a religious fiction covering up a political necessity. Nor is England the only country to have gone down this route, but wherever the State has grabbed control of the Church, the result has been bad for the State and even worse for the Church. Moreover, the concept of a “national Church" is clearly a bad one, and the alliance between faith and nationalism deeply deforming for faith.

On Sunday we are celebrating the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the traditional time to show our loyalty to the See of Peter, and to acknowledge that the authority of the See is founded in the words of Jesus Christ Himself. I am sure both Saints John Fisher and Thomas More are rejoicing in heaven at the way the Papacy survived the storms of the Reformation. As then, as always: ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia, ibi vita eterna: where Peter is, there is the Church, there is eternal life. May Saints John Fisher and Thomas More continue to inspire us, and bear witness to the truth for which they died.









wpsd_autopost:
1

Leave a Reply

  1. most read post
  2. Most Commented
  3. Choose Categories