Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pet Peeve: Quoting a Fictional More

I recently watched the Dr. Doug Kmiec and Dr. Hadley Arkes debate that happened a month ago at Villanova. One of the debaters, Dr. Kmiec, engaged in one of my most disliked pet peeves; quoting the fictional St. Thomas More.

I really enjoy the movie a Man for All Seasons, as well as the play, but there is a problem with it; it is not real. The acting and characterization are excellent but St. Thomas More did not actually say many of the statements in the movie. In fact, the movie and play was written by Robert Bolt, a man more interested in holding St. Thomas More up as an example of the upholding of modern, not Catholic, conception of the individual conscience.

What is great about the movie is that it explores the characters in a dramatic and human way that helps us imagine what life must have been like for St. Thomas More and the intense pressure he was under to betray Christ and his great courage in defending Our Lord.

But the movie is not reality. Please do not cite it as authority as to what St. Thomas More would say.

Turning back to the initial example; Dr. Kmiec quoted fictional More's statement to his family that he would not arrest Richard Rich for "being a bad man." Dr. Kmiec used this quote to highlight the fact that we should not shun other "bad men" like President Obama but should engage and cooperate with them.

This is a terrible injustice to the legacy of St. Thomas More, who was most upright in enforcing the law of men and God. You see, St. Thomas More informed by his Catholic conscience would know that abortion is murder. He would punish those guilty of abortion as committing a crime. Indeed, he took great pride in his defense of the faith, including punishing heretics with the force of law. Does this sound like a man who would just let the current administration's endorsement and funding of abortion as a good just slide? St. Thomas More stood against the King of England, a.k.a. the sovereign of England, and willingly lost his head for Christian Marriage and papal authority.

What do you think he would do against a mere elected official, with limited Constitutional powers, a.k.a. not a sovereign, who was endorsing murder of the innocent? At the very least he would not have helped him get elected. So much for the fictional More.

As a response to this terrible misuse of St. Thomas More's and my name, I plan on having a weekly or bi-weekly quote from the real St. Thomas More to help people guide their consciences during these difficult times when President Obama has begun assaulting the innocent child in the womb and the consciences of doctors and nurses who do not want to participate in their murder.

Link for the Debate:

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