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October 30, 2000



"It is especially appropriate for political leaders to have a patron saint," said Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, Archbishop of Philadelphia. "Saint Thomas More exemplified the highest ideals of public service. He was a proven model of moral integrity, a Catholic statesman who lived his faith with courage and conviction and carried his faith into his work. He firmly accepted the fact that God should not only guide his life but should also guide society."

"It is important for people in government to have someone to intercede for them and whose example will shepherd them during challenging and difficult moments. Meditation on Saint Thomas More's outstanding witness in life and heroic martyrdom will be a source of strength for all those who work in government and in public service. His words and deeds are timeless. As a public figure, he was an enemy of favoritism and of the privileges of power. He strove to be a perfect Christian in his private and public life. All political leaders are called to this ideal every day as they lead and govern their fellow citizens."

"I remind all Catholics that we are required to put our faith into practice as responsible and faithful citizens. For those to whom we entrust the leadership of our great nation, we must ask that they combine political commitments with moral convictions. I pray that, like Saint Thomas More, all political leaders, in these turbulent times, will govern with a rightly formed conscience and with a conviction that seeks the greater truth for the common good," said Cardinal Bevilacqua.

Saint Thomas More, martyr, was born in London, February 7, 1478. He was a member of parliament at the age of 27, later becoming its speaker and then Lord Chancellor of the kingdom, the first layman to hold this high office. Saint Thomas More authored the extraordinary work "Utopia." He submerged himself in public affairs, but was also an attentive father to four children and daily attendant at Mass. He fully lived the evangelical design: be in the world without being of the world. At the age of 55, Saint Thomas More resigned for reasons of conscience, so as not to have to turn a blind eye to flagrant injustices. He was beheaded for having refused to cede to the will of his king who wanted to make the Church subject to the State. Saint Thomas More was executed July 6, 1535. The Catholic Church has already named him patron saint of attorneys. Pope John Paul II was presented with a petition asking him to declare Saint Thomas More the patron of statesmen on September 25, 2000. It was signed by several hundred heads of State, heads of government and ministers from numerous countries, political parties and different religious denominations. On October 26, The Pope named Saint Thomas More patron of statesmen effective October 31st.

Catherine L. Rossi
Director of Communications

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