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Book excerpt: Some more on Thomas More on Statesmanship by Gerard B. Wegemer

King Henry VIII of England ordered Sir Thomas More to the headsman for More’s refusal to knuckle under to Henry’s split from the Catholic Church over the Pope not granting Henry’s divorce.

No one here in the United States has yet been beheaded over keeping to traditional Christian beliefs, but try speaking out against, say, flying the Pride Flag over your city’s civic center and see what happens.

More lost his head but kept his faith. For Roman Catholics, he is the patron saint of politicians.

More carefully studied the writings of both Cicero (a pagan Roman statesman and contemporary of Julius Caesar) and St. Augustine (Bishop of Hippo in North Africa, died 430 AD).

For our own troubled times, we could do worse than pondering Thomas More’s writings. The excerpt below is from the chapter “Ciceronian Statesmanship” in Thomas More on Statesmanship by Gerard B. Wegemer:

Cicero’s best regime, then, rests upon free cooperation that proceeds from the good will of friendship and civic-mindedness, not upon fear, which Cicero considered the motive least effective and most foreign to healthy political life. This cooperation is fostered primarily through the free exercise of benevolence and liberality. Taking seriously the phenomena of duty and friendship, which arise from our nature as social beings, Cicero considers this social dimension of human existence to be so important that he concludes: “Nothing ought to be more sacred in men’s eyes” than duties governing the welfare of their fellowmen. As a consequence, “the claims of human society and the bonds that unite men together take precedence over the pursuit of speculative knowledge.” Why? For the simple reason that a safe and well-ordered state is the precondition for achieving other goods.

(Citations omitted.)