Pope John Paul II and the collapse of communism
For sure, the old leaders of the former Soviet Union knew how to spot a talented threat when they saw one. So, Soviet Premier, Leonid Brezhnev, put out a contract on the life of Karol Wojtyla, the Polish priest who, in 1978, had become Pope John Paul II.
Recently released documents printed in the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera show what we suspected all along: In 1981, the KGB was ordered to find a way to assassinate Pope John Paul II lest the Pope continue to stir up more support for Lech Walesa’s Solidarity labor movement – an effort that would eventually topple the communist government of Poland in 1989-90.
Ironically, it may have been the election of Ronald W. Reagan to the presidency of the United States in 1980 that pushed Brezhnev over the edge. Reagan’s dislike of communism was no secret, calling the Soviet Union “the Evil Empire.” Moreover, Reagan had a reputation for thwarting communism when, as president of the Hollywood Screen Actors Guild (SAG) from 1947-1952 and, again, from 1959-60, Reagan stopped the Communist Party USA from taking over the SAG.
Even before Karol Wojtyla became Pope and Ronald W. Reagan became President, the two men met in Europe in 1972, forming a lasting friendship. Years later after Cardinal Wojtyla became Pope, Reagan watched on television as Pope John Paul II was being greeted by thousands of the Pope’s cheering countrymen and women. Then, weekly newspaper columnist Reagan wrote, “Now with the eyes of all the world on them they have looked past those menacing weapons and listened to the voice of one man who has told them there is a God and it is their inalienable right to worship that God. Will the Kremlin ever be the same again? Will any of us for that matter?”
No, we will never be the same after the example of Pope John Paul II who did so much to heal the rift between peoples of all faiths. For example, his visit to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and his apology to the Jewish people for centuries of persecution by Roman Catholics and the Church. By so doing, the Pope sent a signal to the radical Muslims that the Zionists do not stand alone in their struggle to maintain Israel as a viable state amidst a sea of Arabs.
More recently, the Pope showed his political wisdom by condemning the crimes against humanity of Saddam Hussein. Yet, by not endorsing the invasion of Iraq by a Christian-led coalition, he helped to undercut the contention of the radical Muslims that the Judeo-Christian West was waging a Crusade against Islam.
Coming to the priesthood under the brutal Nazi occupation, and then living under the equally atrocious communist occupation, Pope John Paul II was no stranger to intrigue and conspiracy. Shortly after the election of President Reagan, the two began a series of meetings. Indeed, President Reagan met more often and for longer periods of time with a reigning Pope than any other sitting American President. During one of his Papal visits, President Reagan, also the victim of an assassination attempt, told the Pontiff that God had spared his life so he could help the Pope defeat communism.
While we have no record of their private discussions, their handiwork became evident with the disbanding of the Soviet Union on December 26, 1991. Reagan characteristically shunned the credit preferring, instead, to highlight the role of the Pope.
So, how did the KGB try to assassinate the Pope? The KGB tasked the Bulgarian Secret Service to do the killing. The East German Intelligence Service was ordered to coordinate the operation and orchestrate a cover-up. The Bulgarians got Turkish extremists to do the dirty work and that is how Mehmet Ali Agca came to pull the trigger. God saved the Pope, and the Pope forgave Ali Agca. Dona Nobis Pacem. Amen.
William Hamilton, a syndicated columnist, a featured commentator for USA Today and self-described “recovering lawyer and philosopher,” is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy – two thrillers about terrorism directed against the United States.
©2005. William Hamilton.