For Discharge of My Conscience and Satisfaction of My Soul

Detail of portrait of Sir Thomas More by Hans Holbein the Younger, 1527.

More then spoke as follows: “Since I am condemned, and God knows how, I wish to speak freely of your Statute, for the discharge of my con­science. For the seven years that I have studied the matter, I have not read in any approved doctor of the Church that a temporal lord could or ought to be head of the spirituality.”

The Chancellor interrupting him, said, “What, More, you wish to be considered wiser and of better conscience than all the bishops and nobles of the realm?”

To this More replied, “My lord, for one bishop of your opinion I have a hundred saints of mine; and for one parliament of yours, and God knows of what kind, I have all the General Councils for a thousand years, and for one kingdom I have France and all the kingdoms of Christendom.”

Norfolk told him that now his malice was clear.

More replied, “What I say is necessary for discharge of my con­science and satisfaction of my soul, and to this I call God to witness, the sole Searcher of human hearts. I say further, that your Statute is ill made, because you have sworn never to do anything against the Church, which through all Christendom is one and undivided, and you have no authority, without the common consent of all Christians, to make a law or Act of Parliament or Council against the union of Christendom. I know well that the reason why you have condemned me is because I have never been willing to consent to the King’s second marriage; but I hope in the divine goodness and mercy, that as St. Paul and St. Stephen whom he persecuted are now friends in Paradise, so we, though differing in this world, shall be united in perfect charity in the other. I pray God to protect the King and give him good counsel.”

 — From A Thomas More Sourcebook, edited by Gerald Wegemer and Stephen Smith (Catholic University Press, 2004), pp. 352-355.

Curator: Christian Clay Columba Campbell

Christian Clay Columba Campbell is a Roman Catholic of the Anglican Use. As Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL), he organised the process by which the parish accepted the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, petitioning to join the Catholic Church. The Anglican Cathedral is now the Church of the Incarnation in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Personal queries should be directed to me at eccentricbliss dot com.

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