It will be a couple of weeks before I'll see the May 2016 issue of the BBC History Magazine at our local Barnes & Noble, but their cover story, by Joanne Paul, has the headline I'm tired of seeing, posing a poor question: "Thomas More: Saint or Sinner?" If it must be answered, it's simple: "Both". The Catholic Church never says that a saint is not a sinner or that a sinner cannot become a saint. Moral perfection is not a requirement, although of course the desire never to be separated from God is necessary for sanctity.
The subtitle is also interesting: "The real character of Henry VIII's controversial statesman". That second adjective, "controversial", could apply to almost all of Henry VIII's statesmen, Wolsey, Cromwell, Wriothesley, etc. I eagerly await this article by Joanne Paul, who is working on a monograph for Wiley's Polity Classic Thinkers Series and other works considering More as a statesman, according to her website:
Thomas More's works are analysed in history, politics, literature, philosophy and theology departments throughout the world. He remains one of history's most alluring and enigmatic figures - his reputation fiercely debated since the moment of his execution in 1535.
My monograph on More focuses on his place within the history of political and philosophic thought, and will be published as a part of Polity's Classic Thinkers Series, October 2016, coinciding with the quincentary of More's most famous text, Utopia (1516). I have published on Utopia in History Today (April, 2016), and I am currently developing a monograph on Utopia for Palgrave, at the request of the editors.
You can be sure that I'll let you know what I think of this article once I obtain the magazine. In the meantime, I have a little bit of a lull before starting on two projects for June (one article and one presentation), a presentation in July, and one in August--and then a nice break until November, when I'll teach a class at the Regan Catechetical Institute for Catholic teachers in the Diocese of Wichita.