Monday, April 04, 2005

Three Cheers for Pope John Paul II

Although not Catholic we have developed a great admiration for Pope John Paul II over the years. Younger readers may not know what the world was like when he became Pope and the role he played in breaking the hold of communism on the throat of the world. has three excellent columns on him (linked below) that everyone should read.

In addition to his contributions to the destruction of the Berlin Wall and the breakup of the Soviet empire in Eastern Europe, John Paul's effect on Latin America was also critical. At the time many priests in the Latin American Church were attracted to the doctrine of "Liberation Theology," making the Church a supporter of Marxist revolutions to "help" the poor. The Marxist Sandanistas had already ridden this to control of Nicaragua, a base on the mainland for spreading communist dictatorships. Having spent much of his life in a "Socialist Workers Paradise," John Paul knew the reality of the Marxist systems. He quickly swept "Liberation Theology" into the Dustbin of History.

George Will
"In Eastern Europe, where both world wars began, the end of the Cold War began on Oct. 16, 1978, with a puff of white smoke, in Western Europe. It wafted over one of Europe's grandest public spaces, over Michelangelo's dome of St. Peter's, over statues of the saints atop Bernini's curving colonnade that embraces visitors to Vatican City. Ten years later, when the fuse that Polish workers had lit in a Gdansk shipyard had ignited the explosion that leveled the Berlin Wall, it was clear that one of the most consequential people of the 20th century's second half was a Pole who lived in Rome, governing a city-state of 109 acres."
Charles Krauthammer
"I am not much of a believer, but I find it hard not to suspect some providential hand at play when the white smoke went up at the Vatican 27 years ago and the Polish cardinal was chosen to lead the Catholic Church. Precisely at the moment the West most desperately needed it, we were sent a champion. It is hard to remember now how dark those days were. The 15 months following the pope's elevation marked the high tide of Soviet communism and the nadir of the free world's post-Vietnam collapse."
Michael Barone
"A half century ago, it seemed the world was moving toward ever more collectivism and centralization, toward ever greater secularism and skepticism: This was modernity, and Marx and Freud were its prophets. Experts at the top of hierarchical pyramids would determine the course of events. Authoritarian and totalitarian regimes ruled most of the world's people, and in an age of nuclear weapons, no one could hope to change that. The best that could be wished for was a convergence of systems."

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