Nourishing the Soul

By Wagner, David | Insight on the News, November 18, 1996 | Go to article overview

Nourishing the Soul


Wagner, David, Insight on the News


By the late seventies a coalition of mostly Italian officials in the upper echelons of the Roman Catholic Church had concluded that communism in Eastern Europe was a fact of life. But in October they chose for the papacy a man who had no notion of accepting things the way they were. Those seeking evidence that a spiritual force guides the deliberations of the College of Cardinals, enabling them to transcend their own time-bound perceptions, point to that conclave.

Karol Wojtyla - Pole, priest and eventually pope under the name of John Paul II - was and is a man of vision. "I state right from the outset: `Be not afraid!'" he wrote in his 1994 book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope. "This is the same exhortation that resounded at the beginning of my ministry in the See of Saint Peter.

Of what should we not be afraid?" he continues. "We should not fear the truth about ourselves." This truth - that people are sinful yet carry divine imprints that give them a right to be treated with dignity - the pope sees as inimical to totalitarian systems. Carl Bernstein and Marco Politi, in their current best-seller, His Holiness: John Paul II and the Hidden History of Our Times, report that in personal conversations with President Reagan's CIA director, William Casey, "the pope focused on the absence of truth in Communist society, not just the truth of God, but the truth of human nature,

"The pope's great contribution to the end of Communism in Eastern Europe," says Thomas Melady, U.S. ambassador to Vatican City from 1989 to 1993, "was his confidence that it could be done, and that it could be done without bloodshed."

Wojtyla had grown up under the two leading tyrannies of the 20th century, Nazism and Stalinism. He successfully led the local church in Krakow through endless run-ins with the petty, time-serving bureaucrats who - with the Soviet armed forces - were the front line of the supposedly invincible Marxist ideology.

"He was confident that Communism could be uprooted," Melady tells Insight. "He told President Reagan this in a meeting in 1982. Reagan asked when it might happen, and the pope said `In our lifetime.' Reagan then said, `Well, we're neither of us getting any younger, so how can I help?' This was the so-called secret agreement, which lasted only as long as Reagan was in office, because it was never a full-fledged treaty ratified by the Senate."

The fact that the growth of the independent union Solidarity coincided with the arrival on the scene of Pope John Paul Il and Reagan never has been seen as a coincidence. Bernstein and Politi's book fleshes out what all observers already knew: John Paul nourished Solidarity, with the help of the United States, often acting as a crucial back channel between the Polish workers and the Soviet regime.

The pope's Polish heritage gave him a symbolic link to events in Poland that no Italian pontiff could have matched. But for all that, John Paul II did not neglect dissident movements in other Iron Curtain countries.

"When I arrived in Rome in Melady says, "I found that the Holy See was involved with events in Czechoslovakia, and I helped transmit some messages to Czechoslovakia. In fact, events in that country raise the question of the credit due to Mikhail Gorbachev. The Soviet Union had more military power in Czechoslovakia in 1989 than they did in 1968, when Brezhnev used it to crush the Prague Spring. Gorbachev decided not to use it."

Many observers concur in sharing the credit with Gorbachev and no one more so than Gorbachev himself. In a New York Times op-ed published on March 9, 1992, titled "My Partner, the Pope," Gorbachev wrote:

"Now it can be said that everything that took place in Eastern Europe in recent years would have been impossible without the popes efforts and the enormous role, including the political role, he played in the world arena. I think that the very significant steps we took in our own country played a part in developing relations with the Vatican; in particular, we understood the need for ties between the Russian Orthodox and Catholic churches. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Nourishing the Soul
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.