Two June anniversaries — from 1979 and 1989 — that mustn’t be overlooked.
by PAUL KENGOR
“I came here to do glory to the mother of God and also to spite those bastards.”
It wasn’t exactly what Jesus might have said, but one can sympathize with this sentiment from a Polish citizen long repressed by the jackboot of atheistic Soviet communism. This particular Pole is quoted in the new film documentary on Pope John Paul II and Ronald Reagan, The Divine Plan, directed by Robert Orlando (I’ve co-authored the companion book to the film).
This Polish gentleman in June 1979 attended one of the massive rallies that greeted Karol Wojtyla, by then Pope John Paul II, the first Polish pope, the first Slavic pope, the first non-Italian pope in four and a half centuries.
The Pole spoke to a bemused Western reporter interviewing those basking in the almost surreal, once-unthinkable glow of a Polish pope coming home to shake the foundations of the Marxist-Leninist state. Millions of jubilant Poles joined their suddenly famous native son in open defiance of the communist authorities. “Why are you here?” the reporter had asked. He got his answer: Giving glory to the heavens meant shaking your fist at the ideological brutes who denounced the heavens.
In fact, Lech Walesa, Solidarity’s leader, would say of John Paul II’s visit: “He comes to Poland, and the twenty who followed me were suddenly ten million. It was a greater multiplication than the loaves and the fishes.”
In terms of sheer numbers, it was indeed.
The communists stared in horror as the crowd chanted not “we want Marx” but “we want God!” That was the Gospel they wanted, not what John Paul II and Ronald Reagan called “the false faith” of Marxism-Leninism. And it was that Gospel, proclaimed without fear by John Paul II, plus the stoic efforts of the likes of Ronald Reagan, of Margaret Thatcher, of the Solidarity movement, and more, that tore open the Iron Curtain.
To read the article in full, visit The American Spectator.