Skip to comments.Did Thomas More and John Fisher die for nothing?
Posted on 10/19/2015 3:00:20 PM PDT by markomalley
The idea that Catholics should be allowed to remarry and receive communion did not begin with the letter signed by Cardinal Kasper and other members of the German episcopate in 1993. Another countrys episcopate Englands pioneered this experiment in Christian doctrine nearly 500 years ago. At stake then was not just whether any Catholic could remarry, but whether the king could, since his wife had not borne him a son.
As with those who advocate for communion for the civilly remarried, the English bishops were uncomfortable with embracing divorce and remarriage outright. Instead, they chose to bend the law to the individual circumstances of the case with which they were confronted, and King Henry VIII was granted an annulment on a fraudulent basis and without the sanction of Rome.
If heroism is not for the average Christian, as the German Cardinal Walter Kasper has put it, it certainly wasnt for the King of England. Instead, issues of personal happiness and the well-being of a country made a strong utilitarian argument for Henrys divorce. And the King could hardly be bothered to skip communion as the result of an irregular marriage.
Englands Cardinal Wolsey and all the countrys bishops, with the exception of Bishop John Fisher of Rochester, supported the kings attempt to undo his first and legitimate marriage. Like Fisher, Thomas More a layman and the kings chancellor, also withheld his support. Both were martyred and later canonized.
In publicly advocating that the kings marriage was indissoluble, Fisher argued that this marriage of the king and queen can be dissolved by no power, human or Divine. For this principle, he said, he was willing to give his life. He continued by noting that John the Baptist saw no way to die more gloriously than in the cause of marriage, despite the fact that marriage then was not so holy at that time as it has now become by the shedding of Christs Blood.
Like Thomas More and John the Baptist, Fisher was beheaded, and like them, he is called saint.
At the Synod on the Family taking place right now in Rome, some of the German bishops and their supporters are pushing for the Church to allow those who are both divorced and remarried to receive communion, while other bishops from around the world are insisting that the Church cannot change Christs teaching. And this begs a question: Do the German bishops believe that Sts. Thomas More and John Fischer sacrificed their lives in vain?
Jesus showed us throughout his ministry that heroic sacrifice is required to follow him. When one reads the Gospel with an open heart, a heart that does not place the world and history above the Gospel and Tradition, one sees the cost of discipleship to which every disciple is called. The German bishops would do well to read, The Cost of Discipleship by the Lutheran martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. For what they promote is cheap grace rather than costly grace, and they even seem to ignore the words of Jesus that, Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me, (Mk. 8: 34, Lk. 14: 25-27, Jn. 12: 24-26).
Think, for example, of the adulterous woman whom the Pharisees presented to Jesus to trap him. The first thing he did was to protect her from her accusers, and the second thing he did was to call her to leave her sin. Go, he commanded her, and sin no more.
Following the words of Christ himself, the Catholic Church has always taught that divorce and remarriage is simply adultery by another name. And since communion is reserved to Catholics in the state of grace, those living in an irregular situation are not able participate in that aspect of the life of the Church, though they should always be welcomed within the parish and at the Mass itself.
Last May, Cardinal Kasper claimed in an interview with Commonweal that we cant say whether it is ongoing adultery when a repentant, divorced Christian nonetheless engages in sexual relations in a new union. Rather, he thinks absolution is possible.
And yet, Christ clearly called remarriage adultery and said adultery was sinful (Mt. 5:32, Mk. 10:12, Lk. 16:18). In the case of the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-42), Jesus also confirmed that remarriage cannot be valid, even when informed by sincere feeling and fidelity.
When one adds to the equation the high failure rate of remarriages subsequent to a divorce, where Cardinal Kaspers reasoning would lead, no one can say. For example, should sacramental communion be allowed only for the once-remarried? What about people remarried twice, or three times? And it is obvious that the arguments made for easing Christs prohibition on remarriage could also be made for contraceptive use, or any number of other aspects of Catholic theology understood by the modern, self-referential world as difficult.
Predicting what this would lead to isnt a matter of knowing the future, but of simply observing the past. We need only to look at the Anglican Church, which opened the door to and later embraced contraception in the 20th century and for more than a decade has allowed for divorce and remarriage in certain cases.
The German bishops Plan B to do things their way in Germany, even if it goes against the grain of Church teaching, has the same flaws. And, it has an eerie ring to it in an Anglican sort of way. Consider the words of the head of the German Bishops Conference, Cardinal Marx, who was cited in the National Catholic Register as saying that while the German Church may remain in communion with Rome on doctrine, that in terms of pastoral care for individual cases, the synod cannot prescribe in detail what we have to do in Germany. Henry VIII would most certainly have agreed.
We are not just a subsidiary of Rome, Cardinal Marx argued. Each episcopal conference is responsible for the pastoral care in their culture and has to proclaim the Gospel in its own unique way. We cannot wait until a synod states something, as we have to carry out marriage and family ministry here.
The Anglicans also sought such autonomy though with increasingly internally divisive results and the emptying of their communities.
It is undeniable that the Church must reach out to those on the margins of the faith with mercy, but mercy always speaks the truth, never condones sin, and recognizes that the Cross is at the heart of the Gospel. One might recall that Pope St. John Paul II cited by Pope Francis at his canonization as the pope of the family also wrote extensively about mercy, dedicating an entire encyclical to the topic, and establishing the feast of Divine Mercy. For St. John Paul, mercy was a central theme, but one that had to be read in the context of truth and scripture, rather than against it.
On remarriage, and many other issues, no one would say that the Churchs teaching, which is Christs, is easy. But Christ himself did not compromise on core teachings to keep his disciples from leaving him whether it was on the Eucharist or marriage (Jn 6: 60-71; Mt 19: 3-12). Nor did John Fisher compromise to keep the king Catholic.
We need look no further for a model on this matter than words of Christ and St. Peter in Chapter 6 of Johns Gospel a passage that reminds us that the teaching on the Eucharist is often difficult to accept even for believers.
It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe. For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father. As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, Do you also want to leave? Simon Peter answered him, Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
As disciples we are always called to listen to the voice of Jesus before the voice of the world, culture or history. The voice of Jesus sheds light on the darkness of the world and cultures. Let us pray that all concerned will listen to those words of eternal life, no matter how difficult!
Of course they didn’t. What a silly question.
**Like Thomas More and John the Baptist, Fisher was beheaded, and like them, he is called saint.**
Thank you Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher!
Oh for love of algore! People act like Henry VIII asking for an annulment was the first time it ever happened.
The Roman Catholic Church has a history of granting royal annulments on sometimes dubious legal grounds and they tend to be captious in their granting.
Let's consider what happened in 1152. Eleanor of Aquitaine and Poitou's marriage to Louis VII of France because she had given him two daughters and no heir.
The official reason was consanguinity which was the same grounds Henry VIII claimed.
She then, with the Catholic Church's blessing married Henry II who was every bit as closely related as she was to Louis.
Turned out it the problem was with the stallion not the mare as she went on to give sight children, five sons and three daughters and all of this was with the blessing of the Pope.
In 1499 Louis XII of France was granted an annulment on much shakier legal grounds with the goal of marrying another woman.
So while Henry VIII, nasty man that he was, makes a convenient whipping boy to act like what he did was unheard of is to ignore history.
Like it or not none of the grants or denials in any of these cases were based on any sort of firm Roman Catholic Church law but on the political leanings of the popes at the time.
Thomas More for Our Season
Saint Thomas More, Patron of Lawyers and Jurists, Martyr
Dads: Men for All Seasons
( St.) THOMAS MORE AS STATESMAN: A BRIEF SKETCH
St. Thomas More: A Man for This Season
Life of Thomas More
St Thomas More
St. Thomas More and Modern Martyrdom
St. Thomas More Bearing Witness Long After His Death
Saint Thomas More,Martyr, Chancellor of England 1535
If this heresy is allowed to happen, under the pretense of letting local bishops show “mercy”, it will be on Pope Francis and no one. Makes no mistake he’s the architect. He’s bound and determined to get his way, without actually changing doctrine. So he puts his liberal henchmen like Cupich and Kaspar in high level positions at the Synod, when both of them should be exiled to the furthest reaches of Siberia. They also want unrepentant, openly living in sin sodomites to receive communion, all in the name of “mercy”. Welcome to Francis World. Jesus weeps.
`Saint’ More burned his share of `reformist heretics’ while he was chancellor.
They are living in their mortal sin of adultery. They cannot receive Communion worthily.
According to Kaspar?
So improper implementation of God’s law impugns the underlying merit of the law itself? We’re wrong to honor those saints who followed God’s even to the point of death?
Yes. I have read that the Pope at that time, Clement VII, was a virtual prisoner of Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, who had invaded Italy. Charles V was the nephew of Catherine of Aragon and he did not want his aunt to be deposed. The Pope, given his circumstances, did not want to provoke Charles V, and so was reluctant to grant the annulment that Henry was angling for.
If a divorced person is remarried, he is committing adultery until he leaves his remarriage. If he does not, he is still committing adultery continuously by remaining in the state of continual desire for adultery. That being so, how can he receive communion in a state of sin? The whole question is ridiculous.
The bishops who postulated this cannot be thinking. The same is true in the case of homosexuality. If a man still considers to dabble in homosexual relationships, he continues to sin. There again, that person continues to live in sin and is not supposed to receive communion according to church rule.
Who even brought this up? Pope Francis? We have to look at both issues really hard. According to logic, both premises are ridiculous.
So it goes with the laws of the Church as well as the State. That is not an argument against the basic soundness of the law. It is an argument against the frailties of men, of those who administer the law, of human nature: ignorance, negligence, malice, corruption.
Execution was the punishment for the crime of heresy. As they were unrepentent heretics, they were in mortal sin. Not innocent. Heresy was also considered a crime against the state— high treason against the King.
He is a saint because he lived a holy life and died a martyr for Christ and his Church.
Typically a person burned at the stake was strangled first, although I’m sure some might not have been.Many were not, if the rope tied to their neck burnt before being used.
It is said that even without strangulation, one would perish by the smoke rising around their head before the flames reached their body.
Burning at the stake was the penalty for treason as well as for certain other crimes. It was a common method. And, I’m sure being strangled and my body burned would be preferrable to being drawn and quartered, also a common method of execution, which was definitely done while the person was still alive.
No one saw anything wrong with either method in their day and age.
Maybe in 500 years people will have the same questions about the electric chair, gas chamber, firing squad, and hangman’s noose. And, lethal injection.
Jesus had no problems saying it was adultery. I love my church but I cannot agree that those divorced and remarried should be able to accept the sacraments.
Your argument is that once an abuse has occurred, the abuse is the norm.
You ever hear the word “reform”?
In the sixteenth century, burning heretics was morally right.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.