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Miguel Lopez wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have two questions on St. Thomas More.

  • How can we respond to critics of the canonization of St. Thomas More who say he shouldn't have been canonized because of his approval of burning heretics at the stake?

During his time, as High Chancellor of England, (6) six heretics were imprisoned (some at his house), reportedly tortured (though St. Thomas himself denied this), and burned at the stake. I'm unaware of him expressing remorse over these executions. Second,

  • How should we respond to critics of St. Thomas who call him a communist due to his work in Utopia where he explains his preference of communal ownership rather than personal, private property?


Miguel Lopez

  { How do we reply to critics who say that St. Thomas More should not have been canonized? }

Andrew replied:


Here's a comment about St. Thomas More, and the prosecution of heretics, from a blog written by several law professors:

Utopia is an imaginative work that uses satire and ambiguity to address the failings of rulers and society's institutions.

This paper points out various ways in which More indicates that the ideal society described in the novel isn't meant to be taken seriously:

— Andrew

John replied:


Regarding St. Thomas More — He eventually became a Martyr for the faith.

With respect to the burning of heretics, we need to remember the times. That was the common punishment as were many brutal forms of treatment and brutal forms of the death penalty.

The Church Herself partook in these practices.

If indeed More was guilty of participating in these things, he's not unlike St. Paul, who prior to his conversion persecuted Christians and was responsible for at least one death, that of St. Stephen the Deacon. Paul later expressed his remorse in his Epistles.

I don't know enough about that era of British History to know whether or not More expressed remorse. If he did, it may not be recorded but in any event, whatever happened, in my opinion, likely happened under the sanction of the local bishop. Thomas More was a faithful Catholic with respect for authority so that's how I come to that speculation.

The laity sometimes expect that Saints lived perfect lives. Nothing could be further from the truth.


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