In the 482 years since his death, Thomas More continues to attract worldwide admiration. One of his earliest admirers, 18th century writer Jonathan Swift of Gulliver’s Travels fame, named More among the six greatest defenders of liberty of all time, “to which all the ages of the world cannot add a seventh.” St. John Paul II in 2000 named him patron of statesman. G.K. Chesterton in 1929, called Thomas More “more important at this moment than at any moment since his dying; but he is not quite so important as he will be in about a hundred years’ time.”
In a time when the rights of conscience against state compulsion are tested in many areas of life, from forcible involvement in abortion to non-Christian forms of marriage, More matters to the world even sooner than Chesterton expected. He is a figure that is hard to find fault with. Without compromising himself to advance, More stood at the summit of his country, second only to the king. The greatest lawyer in the land was without show a devout practicing Catholic who spent one day a week in prayer and penance since his youth. He accepted an ignominious death rather than to cave in to his monarch’s marriage caprices which destroyed the Catholic Church in England. Why did he persist in an action that he knew could destroy him, his family, and his accomplishments?
Inside the Mind of Thomas More, by Louis Karlin and David Oakley, in only 129 pages, tells why. The authors sift through the issues brought up in his trial, and explain how More justified himself by analyzing his spiritual writings which poured out during his imprisonment for months before his execution. He led an extraordinary life, an exemplary Catholic deeply immersed in various circles as an intellectual, lawyer, husband, family man and shrewd politician and statesman. Canonization came 400 years after his death.
This new book explains how More fought to save both himself and the Catholic Church and did not regret the risk he took in gambling with his own life. He courageously resisted what he saw as morally wrong. He foresaw how King Henry’s action to dissolve the Catholic Church would unleash a century of religious warfare which spread throughout Europe.