Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Vatican and the Red Flag: The Struggle for the Soul of Eastern Europe

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Vatican and the Red Flag: The Struggle for the Soul of Eastern Europe

Article excerpt

The Vatican and the Red Flag.- The Struggle for the Soul of Eastern Europe. By Jonathan Luxmoore and jolanta Babiuch, (New York: Geoffrey Chapman. 1999. Pv. xiv, 351. $39-95.)

Historians have generally not studied religion, and, as a result, the dynamic impact of religion upon significant events has been underestimated. This book, written by a journalist, Jonathan Luxmoore, and his wife,jolanta Babiuch, who is a lecturer at Warsaw University's Institute of Sociology, helps to shed light on the pivotal role that the Catholic Church played in bringing down the Soviet empire. With verve and drama, the authors tell the story of Catholicism's confrontation with Marxist-Leninist ideology in the twentieth century. Using the life of John Paul 11, from his birth in Wadowice, Poland, to his present reign as pope, as a thread to weave their story, Luxmoore and Babiuch explain how the Church at first failed to address the problems precipitated by the industrial revolution and thereby helped to open the door to radical ideologies that promised social and economic justice, then suffered horrific persecution at the hands of the ideologists, then endured marginalization as Franklin 1). Roosevelt aligned himself with one of the chief ideologues,joseph Stalin, even after Hitler was going down to defeat, and finally moved to a leadership position in the struggle against Communism under Pope John Paul 11 and soon brought the Iron Curtain down.

The story is interesting and based on church documents and mainly secondary sources, but it is somewhat one-dimensional. It covers church policy, to be sure, and shows where the Church had shortcomings and where it had strengths, but it never really comes to grips with the dynamic role of the Catholic Church in world history. As a result, it fails to explain the fundamental role of religion in sustaining the West against Communism and, by the same token, in weakening Soviet society because the Communists attacked religion and thus cut the taproot of social order. …

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