Who is the patron saint of politicians.

The Revd Writes…

Of all the saints, it is an Englishman who is the patron saint of politicians.

Thomas More (1478 – 1535) was a lawyer and social philosopher. He also served as a councillor to Henry VIII and served as Lord High Chancellor, responsible for the efficient running of the legal system. His book ‘Utopia’, written in 1516, describing the political system of an imaginary, ideal island state, is still in print and studied by scholars to this day. Critically for More, he refused to support Henry’s demands for the annulment of his marriage to Catharine of Aragon and, as a devout Catholic, refused to acknowledge Henry VIII as the Supreme Head of the Church in England. He was sentenced to death for treason. His last words are said to be, ‘I die the King’s good servant but God’s first’. Naming him as the patron saint of politicians in 2000, Pope John Paul II said that More would be a “model… for all who consider their political commitment as a choice of life.”

I am not a member of any political party. I have always believed that as a parish priest it is better to be available to parishioners of all persuasions and for those who do approach me to know that my views are not swayed by any party loyalties. This said I am painfully aware of how the exhausting debate over Brexit has exposed the integrity of every politician of every shade of opinion. The personal cost for some has been high both in terms of careers and in the loss of friendships and social networks. Any sense that parliament is some sort of inner sanctum of wisdom has long been dispelled. The truth, laid bare for all to see, is that parliamentarians are no different to anyone else. Often weak, sometimes frail.

Being a Member of Parliament requires strong personal resilience. The job involves a willingness to work long hours, often away from home for weeks at a time and a commitment to placing your own conviction permanently under the eye of public scrutiny. It is often a thankless task. So, the need perhaps for us to affirm certain fundamentals about vocation. In the words of Pope John Paul II, “commitment as a choice of life.” To serve in public life is to serve. Can we all, together, rekindle, post-Brexit debate, that the challenge to work in political life is an honourable calling?

It is a vocation for some – not for all. We need candidates willing to stand-up and declare with open hearts, I am willing to die ‘the Queen’s good servant, but God’s first.’

God Bless

Mark