The Pope Who Helped Bring Down Communism

"I have no doubt," Polish President Lech Wałęsa once said, that without John Paul II "the birth of Solidarity would not have been possible."


Reason's December special issue marks the 30th anniversary of the collapse of the Soviet Union. This story is part of our exploration of the global legacy of that evil empire, and our effort to be certain that the dire consequences of communism are not forgotten.

In 1979, less than a year after ascending to the Catholic Church's highest office, Pope John Paul II returned to his home country, then under communist rule. He disembarked at the airport, knelt, and kissed the Polish ground. That moment was arguably the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union.

In an officially atheist country, millions of people—more than a third of the population of Poland—showed up to see the first ever Slavic pope during his nine-day trip. "John Paul was walking among vast, enthusiastic crowds," writes John O'Sullivan in his 2006 book The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister. "The pope proclaimed not only religious but also patriotic and political hope."

While celebrating Mass at Warsaw's Victory Square, John Paul drew the crowd's attention to the nearby tomb of the unknown soldier. "In how many places has he cried with his death," he said, "that there can be no just Europe without the independence of Poland marked on its map!" It was an astonishing political rebuke to the Soviets, who following World War II had installed communist governments across Eastern Europe that were "independent" in name only.

A few minutes earlier, in a rebuke of a different kind, John Paul had declared that "at any longitude or latitude of geography, the exclusion of Christ from the history of man is an act against man." In response, the crowd had begun to sing, "We want God….We want God."

On the other side of the world, former California Gov. Ronald Reagan was gripped by these events. "I have had a feeling," he later wrote, "particularly in the pope's visit to Poland, that religion may turn out to be the Soviets' Achilles' heel."

The following year, a trade union called Solidarity burst into being in the city of Gdańsk. It would soon span the country, representing millions of Poles from every industrial sector and becoming the locus of the nation's anti-communist resistance. Under a banner frequently accompanied by John Paul's face, members battled for the right to organize, liberalize, and democratize.

Within a decade, despite a brutal crackdown, they succeeded. And the rest of the Soviet bloc hastily did the same.

As the labor organizer and future Polish president Lech Wałęsa put it, John Paul's pilgrimage "awakened in us, the Poles, the hope for change….I have no doubt that without the pope's words, without his presence, the birth of Solidarity would not have been possible."

'To Praise the Mother of God and To Spite Those Bastards'

Remember that the Soviets had been determined to replace religion—the "opium of the masses"—with their own "scientific atheism."

In 1919, writes Paul Kengor in his 2017 book A Pope and a President, "Lenin issued a stern order: to kill anyone who dared to observe Christmas." The Soviet leader demanded that "the entire Cheka must be on alert to see to it that those who do not show up for work because of [the religious holiday] are shot."

In the Soviet Union, thousands of churches and monasteries were destroyed, their bells melted down and recast into more "useful" things. Priests and bishops who did not cooperate with the regime were imprisoned or disappeared. "The Bolsheviks forbade religious instruction to anyone under eighteen years of age," Kengor writes, "and children were encouraged to turn in parents who taught anything about God."

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, would eventually acknowledge that the USSR had engaged in a "war on religion."

These efforts were perhaps least successful in Poland, a majority Catholic country where the regime couldn't seem to persuade people to abandon their religious attachments. In 1949, it created Nowa Huta, a "utopian" workers community that conspicuously lacked space for a church. So John Paul, then a bishop in Kraków named Karol Wojtyła, held equally conspicuous outdoor Masses nearby, attracting large crowds, until the authorities finally permitted a church to be built.

Needless to say, when that same bishop was elected pope in 1978, the Soviets knew they had a problem on their hands. But unlike with his immediate predecessors, who had all been Italians, they could not keep this one out of Eastern Europe.

Through his visits, John Paul modeled a form of nonviolent but unapologetically religious "cultural resistance" that Poland's Christians would use against the regime for the next 10 years. "They demonstrated their hostility to Communism not by riots but by openly showing their allegiance to God, Our Lady, the Church, and John Paul," O'Sullivan writes. Or as one Polish miner put it when asked why anyone would wish to be a Christian in a Communist state: "To praise the Mother of God and to spite those bastards."

'I Saw Neighbors Taken From Their Homes'

In summer 1979, millions of Poles poured into the streets in hopes of a glimpse of John Paul. A year later, that energy began to be channeled into more organized opposition.

Faced with skyrocketing food prices alongside ongoing political repression, workers at the state-owned railroads and steel mills grew restless. In August, Wałęsa—then an unemployed electrician in Gdańsk—led his colleagues at the Lenin Shipyard in calling a strike, an effort that soon morphed into the establishment of the nationwide Solidarity union.

With John Paul's encouragement from Rome, the Polish Catholic Church blessed the laborers' demands for "independence" and "self-government." Within just a few months, Kengor writes, "the membership of Solidarity exploded from zero to ten million."

Given its overwhelming popularity, the Polish regime thought it had no choice but to recognize the union, which it initially did. But the victory was not to last.

Moscow, operating under the rigid insistence that the Communist Party was the only legitimate representative of a country's workers, threatened a full-scale invasion unless the Polish government brought the union in line. "A military plan was already prepared," writes O'Sullivan. "The leadership of Solidarity was to be rounded up, court-martialed, and shot."

Recalling the way Soviet troops had brutally put down uprisings in Hungary and Czechoslovakia in the '50s and '60s, the Polish regime reversed course. "At three minutes to midnight on December 12, 1981, all private telephones in Poland were cut off," O'Sullivan explains. Wałęsa was arrested along with thousands of others. Striking was banned. "Tanks emerged from military camps and drove to strategic points on the streets of Warsaw. Martial law had been declared."

The "temporary emergency measures" were lifted two years later—just after John Paul's second trip to Poland as pontiff, perhaps not coincidentally—but the persecution of the union continued until 1989.

"My parents belonged to Solidarity, and they would get underground papers," says Warsaw resident Wojciech Bogdan, who grew up in northern Poland during this period. "They were never arrested, although they came close. It was illegal to have anything connected with Solidarity….I saw neighbors taken from their homes."

In May 1981, during an audience in St. Peter's Square in Rome, John Paul was shot at close range by a Turkish assassin in the employ of Bulgaria's communist government. He survived. Not all of his brother priests were as lucky.

'Priests, Couriers, Labor Organizers and Intelligence Operatives'

After martial law was imposed, the pope showed his continued support for Solidarity via radio addresses broadcast over the Iron Curtain. But he did more than offer moral consolation to his suffering homeland—he set out to help keep the now-underground union going.

In this, he had some curious bedfellows.

The least surprising was probably Ronald Reagan, a fierce anti-communist, who by this point was president of the United States. But he wasn't alone.

"​​Tons of equipment—fax machines (the first in Poland), printing presses, transmitters, telephones, shortwave radios, video cameras, photocopiers, telex machines, computers, word processors—were smuggled into Poland," wrote Carl Bernstein in a 2001 Time cover story. "The Solidarity office in Brussels became an international clearinghouse: for representatives of the Vatican, for CIA operatives, for the AFL-CIO, for representatives of the Socialist International, for the congressionally funded National Endowment for Democracy….Priests, couriers, labor organizers and intelligence operatives moved in and out of Poland with requests for aid and with detailed information on the situation inside the government and the underground."

Western resistance to communism scrambles the simple left-right binary that 21st century Americans have been conditioned to expect. Reagan, the great supposed champion of free market capitalism, had no qualms about working with America's labor unions to funnel support to Polish dissidents. (As a onetime head of the Screen Actors Guild, Reagan was a former union man himself.) Meanwhile, Lane Kirkland, president of the progressive AFL-CIO for 16 years during this period, had no trouble aligning with the Catholic Church and its socially conservative leader.

In Eastern Europe, the emergence of Solidarity scrambled political assumptions as well. There, however, the results were more destabilizing.

The Soviets thought they had established a "dictatorship of the proletariat." Yet as Kengor puts it, with the Polish regime's declaration of martial law in 1981, "the communists were smashing the proletariat." Since Poland's Communist Party was officially called the Polish United Workers' Party, conflicts with the Solidarity labor union could be said to pit lowercase-labor against uppercase-Workers. Most onlookers could tell which side actually represented the people.

The Polish philosopher Leszek Kołakowski wrote years later that Solidarity was the closest thing the 20th century saw to the kind of working-class revolution predicted by Karl Marx. How ironic for communism that it "was directed against a socialist state, and carried out under the sign of the cross, with the blessing of the Pope."

'At This Moment, I Am Participating in a Miracle'

In 1984, Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko, Solidarity's 37-year-old Catholic chaplain, who often used his homilies to exhort the faithful to peaceful resistance, was kidnapped by three agents of the Polish secret police. They bound him, threw him in the trunk of their car, beat him to death, and sank his body in the river.

When the priest went missing, Kengor writes, Wałęsa hurried to his church "and pleaded with Poles not to react with violence." After the body was recovered, a quarter of a million people reportedly attended the funeral.

"I remember very well the feelings after Fr. Popiełuszko was killed, although I was just a child," Bogdan says. "People were just fed up. That was the end. There was no fury, but it was, 'They just can't stop themselves from barbary. How much more do we have to suffer? We have to stop it some way.'"

In 1987, Pope John Paul II made his third pilgrimage to Poland. Independent unions were still outlawed at the time, but that did not stop supporters from hoisting Solidarity banners during a papal Mass attended by some 800,000 people.

That same week, Reagan, during a speech at the Brandenburg Gate, intoned: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

Two years later, the Berlin Wall would indeed come down. We often think of that as the first domino to fall in Eastern Europe. But in fact, it occurred a few months after Poland held its first semi-free parliamentary elections. Solidarity claimed 99 percent of the open seats. Wałęsa was on his way to becoming the president of a democratic Poland.

One Soviet bloc country after another would follow. So eventually would the Soviet republics, culminating in the formal dissolution of the USSR 30 years ago next month. In many of these places, a resumption of religious services was among the milestones used to mark the end of the communist era.

In December 1989, the long-persecuted dissident Václav Havel became president of Czechoslovakia. A few months later, John Paul visited his country.

"I am not sure that I know what a miracle is," Havel told the pope. "In spite of this, I dare say that, at this moment, I am participating in a miracle: the man who six months ago was arrested as an enemy of the state stands here today as the president of the state, and bids welcome to the first pontiff in the history of the Catholic Church to set foot in this land."

The events of the period were a triumph for individual liberty. After four decades under a system hellbent on eradicating Christianity, Eastern Europe was safe for religious believers again. The opposition movement had helped bring down one of modernity's great experiments in tyranny, restoring basic political rights to hundreds of millions of people. And it had done so while showcasing the power of nonviolent action and nongovernmental institutions to utterly remake the world.

"I am the son of a nation," John Paul, who died in 2005 and was canonized by the Church in 2014, once said—a nation that has "kept its identity…not by relying on the resources of physical power but solely by relying on its culture. This culture revealed itself to be a power greater than all other forces."


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  1. And now Pope John Paul II has a successor who is a socialist and a whole host of people criticize Poland's efforts to ensure their freedom and ignore their warnings about the direction the Left in the West is taking. It's almost as if the collapse of the Soviet Union didn't end the quest for the perfect Procrustean society but only moved it abroad.

    1. I was going to just be snarky about the Catholics appointing a communist pope. Clearly you have spent more time considering the matter. My post would not have included the word "procrustean", that much is certain.

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    2. The Pope Emeritus wasn’t so communist.

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    3. Be fair. The Pope isn't a socialist he's a Peronist. Which is like being a retarded socialist with a Swiss bank account.

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  2. Mixing Catholicism and politics is permissible when Catholics are promoting pro-billionaire policies like #OpenTheBorders and #AbolishTheDeathPenalty / #EmptyThePrisons.

    Mixing Catholicism and politics is forbidden when Catholics are trying to turn the world into The Handmaid's Tale by denying access to abortion care.

    I hope Ms. Slade will be a good Koch-funded libertarian and focus her attention on the former approach.


  3. Uh, no. The church might oppose state communism, especially when it limits religious practice, but promotes global communism, directed by theological masters.

    The rest is advertising.

    1. So you are going with the "rival gangs" theory?

      So you are proposing the Catholic church as a worldwide cartel that moved from governmental authority to a detante of sorts where they coexist with governments of all sorts, existing in a symbiosis with the state, taking their cut through voluntary contributions and tax breaks while providing pacification through spiritual palliatives?

      And in this model atheist states are a violation of the bargain, and are attacked by the church acting in its own interest.....


      Makes a degree of sense...

      1. I have this vague notion that Christianity was a cartel in the making during its early years, opposed by that other cartel, the Roman Republic & Empire; possibly Christianity never would have formed if the Roman Republic & Empire had not gotten so full of itself. Same thing with the later Muslim cartel, in opposition to the Christian cartel, and it fractured pretty quickly in two, and lots of little spinoffs along the way. Martin Luther came along and thought he could start the new Protestant cartel, only it got away from him, split into multiple cartels.

        Today the Christian cartel is facing more fractures, such as Mormonism, Seventh Day Adventism, Christian Scientists, which the more traditional Protestants don't accept. Then there are all the New Wave sects, such as Scientology, which show their own signs of schism.

        Cartels don't last. Having "settled" the larger collective goals in a market, its components then concentrate on their individual goals and fracture the cartel. The only reason it took so long for those early cartels to fracture is the slow communications of the day and the miserable economies which had too little excess production to waste on splitting a marginally successful cartel.

        1. Small correction to a perfect synopsis: Scientology isn’t a sect.

          It’s an outright scam that only uses Christian iconography and the word “church” to further the scam.

  4. It is interesting that Solidarity helped end communism yet modern day public sector unions have coopted that term and push for what the original movement fought against.

    1. Unions tend to fight for socialism and then get abolished once it is implemented.

      1. "Solidarity" was a last hurrah for America's anti-Communist trade unionists, before their jobs moved first to the anti-union South, than to Asia.

        1. $100/hr to sweep the floor at an auto plant didn’t seem reasonable. And voila, that factory shutdown.

    2. "Solidarity"? You kidding? Unions have used that since, like, forever.

      1. SDS inherited it from the League for Industrial Democracy. Then LaRouche swiped it from SDS, which he thought had corrupted or stunted it.

  5. Let’s not forget that the Catholic Church was in bed with the Nazis and is receiving massive amounts of money from European governments today.

    The Pope probably just hated the fact that he wasn’t getting much money from the Polish communist government.

    But, hey, if it takes greed to oppose socialism, I’ll take it. After all, greed is all you can appeal to with progressive and mainstream Americans as well; they aren’t interested in moral arguments against socialism.

    1. The only one in bed with the Nazis was Austrian Cardinal Initzer.

      and he learned a valuable lesson right after the Anschluss.

      1. The Catholic Church signed the Reichskonkordat swearing loyalty to the Nazi regime and was instrumental (under Prelate Kaas) in passing the Enabling Act that established Hitler as dictator of Germany.

        1. They signed it in 1933 to guarantee the rights of the church. Something Hitler immediately undermined, try harder.

          1. Quite correct.

            The Catholic Church signed an agreement with a psychopathic mass murderer in order to protect their financial assets, receive massive government handouts, and be left alone. As far as they were concerned, other Christians and the Jews could go to hell.

            Then the Catholic center party went on to install Hitler as dictator, not just through voting, but with a speech in which they justified the vote as being for the good of the country.

            This is precisely what the morality of the Catholic Church amounts to: protect the institution above all else, no matter what misery and death it may bring to humanity.

            And you’re right: the Nazis didn’t stick to the agreement, at which point the Catholic Church started grumbling. Again, pure utilitarian opportunism.

            After WWII, they tried to sweep all that under the rug and portray themselves as unwilling victims of the Nazis, something German Catholics and politicians were only too happy to support.

            So: try again to justify their behavior.

            Moral principles don’t matter much if you throw them out the window as soon as they become inconvenient, and that is exactly what the Catholic Church did under the Nazis.

            1. Let's examine the standard you propose. An entity made up of millions of people is to resist and not deal with the government of a nation, where millions of those members were, a government you acknowledge as murderous. Were they supposed to hold out for a "don't kill us or anyone else" clause in the contract of adhesion they worked out?

              Where were your ancestors, why did they not die in a vain attempt to stop Hitler in 1933? Your very existence is a testament to the inferiority of your inheritance.

              See, I can do it too.

              1. The primary guilt of the Catholic Church isn’t the Reichskonkordat, it is supporting and voting for the Enabling Act. The Social Democrats voted against it and spoke out about how evil Hitler was, knowing the risk and willing to pay the price. The moral failure of the Catholic Church isn't in comparison to some hypothetical standard, it is in direct comparison to organizations and individuals who did take a stand against evil and were willing to pay the price.

                And the Catholic Church didn't do this to protect Catholics, who comprised the majority of the German population and weren't at risk as a group. It did this to protect its wealth, power, and privileges as an institution.

                My parents were kids at the time and were nearly killed by the Nazi; they still bear the scars. But more importantly, my ancestors are not an institution claiming moral authority; whatever their failings, they are individual failings. The Catholic Church is a perpetual institution claiming moral authority: what it did a century ago is relevant to judging its moral authority and legitimacy today.

                1. A nominally Catholic political party voted for the Enabling Act. Like every party present did, except for the Social Democrats. Do you really believe the Nazis would not have achieved control over Germany had that political party taken, for example, the position of the Social Democrats? Do you really believe lives would have been saved?

                  Or are you insisting on a futile gesture to support your bias against Catholics?

                  Given that bias, there's really nothing to say regarding your jaundiced view of institutional intentions. I will say, to the extent you're disregarding institutions on the basis of their persistence, that the main factor in your evaluation is no longer their conduct.

                  1. The Center Party was actually not “nominally Catholic”; the term “Catholic” wasn’t in its name. It was Catholic in reality, with an overwhelmingly Catholic membership headed by Prelate Kaas, who coordinated the vote with the Catholic Church. Not only did the Center Party vote for the Enabling Act, Prelate Kaas gave a lengthy speech defending it and justifying collectivism and authoritarianism.

                    These aren’t my “jaundiced views”, these are historical facts that you can verify for yourself.

                    As for whether a strong opposition of the Catholic Church to Hitler would have changed history, we cannot know for certain. It’s clear that Hitler thought so. The Center Party had destroyed Bismarck’s political program. The Reichskonkordat was a major endorsement for Hitler and his government; the Catholic Church was the single most powerful civil institution in Germany in the 1920’s and 1930’s. It clearly knew that Hitler was a genocidal maniac early on. If it had joined the Social Democrats in calling him out publicly for the evil he represented, he would likely have failed. Later, if the Center Party had voted against him in the Enabling Act, Hitler’s dictatorship would have lacked legitimacy, and he still might have failed. But for a decade, the Catholic Church chose the path that promised to protect its power and resulted in government handouts to the Church.

                    The Catholic Church clearly considered Hitler and the Nazis deeply evil; and that is at the root of their moral failure, since the Catholic Church chose power and money over doing the morally right thing.

                    As for whether the Catholic Church has changed since then, that’s a separate debate. We are talking about your denial of historical facts about the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Nazi government.

    2. JPII helped make the world one where assholes like you could say that kind of shit without getting shot.

      Perhaps there are downsides?

      1. Yup, that about sums up the Catholic Church: wanting to kill people who criticize the church and rewriting history to cover up its abject moral failures. That and getting into bed with the rich and powerful.

        Thanks for displaying what the Catholic Church is all about.

        When you’re ready to leave your cult, start by reading some history.

        1. Well, heck, they were anointed by Jehova's avatar, what else do you expect them to do?

        2. It’s going to be okay. Show us where the priest touched you.

          1. That’s a good one: using a documented history of reprehensible sexual impropriety to try to deflect from a documented history of reprehensible political alliances.

        3. The Pope probably just hated the fact that he wasn’t getting much money from the Polish communist government.

          Here's the part where you assumed the negative intentions of a world leader who (inadvertently, in your view) helped fell a genocidal empire, including at great risk to his person. Those negative intentions are not in a history book, they come from you, being a bigot.

          You are unworthy of the peaceful existence you currently enjoy, which was secured by the sacrifices of better men, some of them, yes (trigger warning), Catholic.

          1. I’m not assuming “negative intentions” at all: JPII was firmly convinced that the Catholic Church is essential for humanity, so he opposed anything that interfered with the ability of the Catholic Church to reach people. Since socialist states interfered with with that objective, he fought them.

            Pacelli/Pius XII, on the other hand, was offered a deal by a genocidal regime and he bet (wrongly, as it turns out) that making a deal was the better path for the Church.

            Both JPII and Pacelli had good intentions. Every despot, totalitarian, and cult leader has “good intentions”. It is the means and moral framework that underlies those intentions that matters, and the worship of the institution and hierarchy is a fundamental flaw in the Catholic framework, that causes the Catholic Church to commit horrific crimes.

            As for your statement that I am “unworthy of peaceful coexistence” with Catholics as judged by Catholics simply for questioning the moral authority of the Catholic church, I think that speaks for itself. Since the Catholic Church nearly killed my ancestors over religion, that is also something that is hardly surprising.

            Yes, some Catholics are highly moral men, willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of humanity. Catholicism often even encourages that, which is why I generally think it has been a net positive for humanity. But that doesn’t excuse the abject moral failures that the Catholic Church is guilty of and the root causes of those failings.

            1. There is one virtue to a lack of an edit button on Reason, and it's that your false attempt to rehabilitate your claims is plain. Here's that assumption of negative intentions again:

              The Pope probably just hated the fact that he wasn’t getting much money from the Polish communist government.

              As for your statement that I am “unworthy of peaceful coexistence”

              That's a misquote. I said peaceful existence. As in, the modern era which was birthed by reason and incubated by Christianity. And the greatest threat to the continuation of that era was backsliding into government by vicious genocidal tyrants. One of which that JPII helped fell. You are unworthy of the fruits of the sacrifices of better men, because you are not just ignorant of, but stepping out to misrepresent and belittle those accomplishments here. The only apparent reason is: you're bigoted against the church they belong to. You just couldn't resist an article saying anything nice about a Catholic.

              That you read it as a threat, or concerning "co"existence, is the projection of your own paranoia and intolerance. You expect the Catholics are coming for you. But they're not. You just get to continue spewing shit, because we live in a relatively-more enlightened era thanks to people like the Catholics you hate, and not the people like you.

              I am genuinely curious what your background is if you think the Catholic Church nearly killed your ancestors over religion.

              1. There’s nothing to “edit”. JPII had good intentions within his own moral framework, a moral framework that places supreme importance on the power and wealth of the institution that he heads, because he viewed his institution as supremely important for mankind.

                I have said nothing bad about Catholics as a group. To the contrary, I have pointed out repeatedly the importance of Catholicism and even the Catholic Church for the development of Western values and society, and the fact that many Catholics are good human beings with a strong moral framework. I don’t view Catholics as a threat at all; I’d rather live in a Catholic nation than in an atheist nation.

                You specifically, however, are engaging in continued ad hominems. You are full of anger and pride. You represent some of the worst aspects of Catholicism. I don’t fear you, because fortunately people like you are in the minority among Catholics, and because the Catholic Church is rapidly changing.

                As for which religious group persecuted by the Catholic Church my ancestors were part of, you’ll just have to guess. After all, there are so many to choose from.

      2. Meh! Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc.. The Polish people could have defeated Communism with chair legs, farm implements, and butcher knives without the Crucifixes and Homilies of Big Papa. The fax machines, Xeroxes, computers etc. were a nice touch too, but, again, no Papal Bull required.

        1. I actually think the Pope did play a role in ending communism. I also think that Christianity has generally been a positive force in civilization.

          Nevertheless, this shouldn't blind us to the massive moral failings of the Catholic Church throughout history, or the fact that the motivations of their clergy are largely venal and selfish. In the end, it's best to view the Catholic Church as just another big corporation, one that happens to sell an occasionally useful but defective product.

          Actual faith, redemption, and morality you need to find on your own. The Catholic Church can't help you with that.

          1. While we're in a thread begun by you assuming the negative intentions of dead people you've never met, here are some assumptions about you:

            I recall you saying you're some kind of immigrant. I'm assuming its from behind the iron curtain.

            So, I figure you only rejected a portion of the miserable edifice of communism. You're still clinging to the antireligious bigotry. What you just said about the Catholic Church (actually, you couldn't even bring yourself to say that, you generalized to Christianity) is like what the KKK would say about George Washington Carver inventing peanut butter: begrudging, minimizing, disdain dripping off every word.

            Perhaps you should consider that the horrible dysfunctional shit you were taught should be critically examined in its entirety. Instead of flipping on only one prong of the mass murder ideology, which I'm assuming you got a bit of in primary school.

            1. I’m not assuming “negative intentions” on the part of JPII. JPII genuinely believed that what is good for the church is good for humanity, just like Pacelli did when he got into bed with the Nazis.

              It is your error that you confuse the institution of the Catholic Church with Christianity. And you are so blindly devoted to the institution that you are willing to rewrite history and baselessly accuse others of the most heinous beliefs in order to defend it.

          2. So you say all this against The Vatican (quite justifiably I should add,) yet you still think Catholicism was anti-Communist and that Christianity is still good for civilization???

            You do realize that The Roman Catholic Church was Christian before anybody else, supposedly founded by Peter, the rock-head on which Jesus Christ was supposed to have built his Church?

            And have you read The Sermon on The Mount, with it's proclamation of lust and anger as thoughtcrimes, with it's injunction to love one's enemies, to live like lillies and beasts of the field with no thought for tomorrow, dependent on God for everything?

            Or all the tales and parables where Jesus excoriated the rich and accomplished, scourged moneychangers and merchants from the Temple, and told people to "Render unto Ceasar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's?" Where's my cut of da mouse take that I earned? How much more Communistic can a worldview get than Christianity?

            As Jean-François Revel's title put it, I am Without Marx or Jesus and so was the West at it's best in The Enlightenment, The Industrial Revolution, and the ongoing Jet, Space, and Information Ages.

            1. Well, what can I say, history is complicated.

              First, I make a distinction between the church as an institution and religion. A deep flaw at the root of the moral framework of the Catholic Church is its worship of institution. Sometimes the consequence of that is beneficial (fighting communism, long term stability), sometimes it is profoundly harmful (collaboration with Nazis, religious wars).

              The same is true for belief systems/ideologies themselves: the effects of such systems may be good or bad.

              I do have to defend Christian faith against the charge of being “communistic” or proclaiming “thoughtcrimes”. The passages you list don’t proclaim it to be a crime to engage in greed, lust, or anger; they simply say that it is bad for you to do these things. It’s a rather libertarian view: you make choices and you suffer the consequences.

              The Enlightenment was made possible not by a rise in atheism, but by the Reformation. That is, people threw off the institutional shackles of the Catholic Church but still retained the virtues of Christianity. Most enlightenment thinkers were still deeply rooted in Christianity in their world view.

              The 20th century was when atheism became an important influence on politics, and the consequences have been disastrous. Instead of an irrational, faith-based morality, people now have nothing at all. But we can’t go back to Catholicism or Protestantism as the basis for society either. I don’t know where this is going to end up, frankly. But at least, we should look at the past realistically.

              1. The Sermon on The Mount explicitly made thoughts of lust and anger equal to acts of adultery qnd murder.

                Hence my description of thoughtcrime fits, as it does with the mere thoughts of coveting, blasphemy, and worshipping other gods than JHVH-1 prohibited in The Ten Commandments. And as with The Ten Commandments (which Jesus upheld in The Sermon on The Mount,) the punishment is judgement and death.

                Many in The Enlightenment still believed in a God, but a Deistic God that made the Universe to work on Natural Law and otherwise left the Universe alone and didn't intervene in human affairs. This was neither Catholic nor Protestant and was a baby-step towards full-on Atheism.

                The problem of the 20th Century was not Atheism, but Totalitarianism, which is not a necessary correlary of Atheism and can also be religious. We both share disgust with Totalitarianism and a desire to do right. I just don't think anyone should found this on something make-believe.

                1. The Sermon on the Mount also instructs you to pluck out your eye; do you think that’s literal too? This is a sermon that is trying to convince you to avoid behaviors that destroy your soul, and it is using metaphor and hyperbole to try to get the point across.

                  I said that Enlightenment thinkers were “deeply rooted in Christianity” and “retained Christian virtues”, so your point about deism isn’t relevant. But, in fact, intellectuals and populations in the West remained overwhelmingly Christian well into the 20th century.

                  Finally, yes, it is true that religions can be totalitarian. But we’re talking about the opposite question here, namely whether atheism can produce a just, moral, and free society, and I know of no example where it ever has. Exceptional individuals can be atheists and highly moral people, but this doesn’t seem to work at the societal level. Functioning human societies require altruism, collaboration, sacrifice, and trust, and those behaviors are irrational at the individual level; yet, when you attempt to turn them into rational principles, they are exploited by totalitarian ideologies like socialism or fascism. So far, “make-belief” seems to be the only basis on which humans have been able to instill altruism, collaboration, sacrifice, and trust into societies without it degenerating into collectivism.

                  Think of religion is a shortcut and a heuristic: “how would an omnipotent, omniscient being judge my conduct” is a good question to ask when analyzing moral problems.

  6. Meanwhile in the USA, protestors against the trial by jury system are marching (and burning and looting) in New York, Chicago and Portland, carrying signs printed by the "Party for Socialism and Liberation" and a hammer and sickle red flag and hand-printed signs calling for revolution.

    1. Any rioting in Kenosha?

      1. I was worried but from what we've heard it's been mostly peaceful.

        But, how do we know the rioting the Portland has any relationship to the Rittenhouse verdict? It seems like Portland has rioting happening on any given night.

        1. “from what we've heard it's been mostly peaceful.”

          Which, unless you’re hearing it directly from someone in Kenosha, amounts to exactly jack shit.

    2. Also out protesting in America against Western values, the Palestinian Arab activists.

      Same half-educated commie idiots at every BLM disturbance.

  7. Just a couple of years ago damning proof emerged that Lech Walesa was a paid agent of the Communist secret police.
    Post-Communist judges had sided with him in numerous defamation cases against people who had accused him of being an agent based on circumstantial evidence.
    As President, Lech Walesa kept the Old Commies rich and powerful. He also begged the Red Army not to pull out of Poland!!
    In short, Poland suffered terribly because of this man — and is still trying to throw off the yoke of the past.
    Unfortunately, the European Union has sided with the Old Commies — because they didn’t ask Western Big Business to pay any tax on huge profits in Poland.
    Money talks.

    1. And Bullshit posts.

    2. So Walesa was the "Donald Trump" of Poland. I like where this is going.

    3. I don’t think the communist police got a great return on that investment.

  8. Current Pope seems to want to bring it back.

    1. As do most Popes. The history of "encyclicals" reads like Davos Summit memorandums.

  9. The 80's Eastern Europe is one of the best case studies in how (mostly - except for anything involving Serbs) non-violent resistance can bring oppressive regimes down. And, mostly, a case study of how many problems fail to get resolved in an often hijacked aftermath.

    1. Russian had an attempted coup with limited fighting. Romania had fighting which included them executing their deposed leader.

      The Bosnians and Croatians also had fighting between themselves. In addition to their respective conflicts with the Serbs. And the Serbs engaging others. As you mentioned.

      Transnistria had fighting in their effort to secede from Moldova.

    2. The key factor appears to be the oppressive regime doesn't have its hands on the wheel. The examples you're alluding to indicate it has to be a satellite state where the military doesn't have orders to shoot protesters, or isn't even present. Non-violent resistance isn't working in Venezuela because that dictator very much does have his hands on the wheel (with Cuban and Russian hands, too).

      I worry that soft leftists in the West misunderstand how Gandhi won, and they think nonviolent resistance has some kind of magical super-effectiveness.

  10. Thank the cardinals who decided, after a John-Paul who died surprisingly soon after popeship, to pick that moment to break the string of Italian popes.

    1. And thank Wojtyla for not adopting as pope name George-Ringo.

      1. Why? They were the two talented ones

      2. Pope Brian Epstein or Pope Murray the K would be kinda strange too.

        1. Guido Sarducci is the only pope I will ever recognize.

          1. Dee made a funny! Mark your calendar.

            1. Dee is now w cawmedian?

    2. It wasn't surprising at all. Looking into Vatican finances is known to be quite hazardous to one's health.

  11. Do Carlisle women wear stockings? Is the pope catholic?

  12. Yay! The largest kiddie-diddler racket organization in the world helped end communism. Congratulations to all those involved!

    1. Democrats had little to do with it.

  13. Its too bad that only a short while later the RC church elects a communist as Pope.

  14. Pope John Paul was magnificent, the current communist pedo is an abomination.

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  17. It's so sad to see so much animosity toward Catholicism and CChristianity.

    And yes, a lot of bad stuff has happened over the centuries. But to condemn the whole thing and its adherents is nothing but bigotry.

  18. The only Pope who meaningfully rejected socialism was Pope Leo of Mariani coca wine endorsement fame. His "In Rerum Novarum" of 15MAY1891 succinctly exposeds intellectuals of the looter persuasion as... well... looters. Offsetting this was Cardinal Pacelli, who became Hitler's Pope the way Father Coughlin was National Socialism's radio priest in America. Mysticism reliably goes out of its way to urge the initiation of force, then acts shocked at the outcome.

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