Sunday, April 03, 2005

A Great Man is Dead

The term "great" is often thrown around loosely, but even in its strictest of meanings, Pope John Paul II was a great man and a great leader. Three world leaders, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and John Paul earn the loin's share of the credit for the fall of the Soviet empire and ultimately of the Soviet Union. John Paul definitively answered Joseph Stalin's contemptuous question, "How many divisions has the Pope?"

Lech Walesa was the man on the spot, taking the greatest risks in Solidarity's challenge to communist power in Poland, but it is reasonable to doubt that the leaders of Solidarity would have had the courage for that challenge were it not for the moral support and encouragement of the man they knew as a countryman as well as the leader of their religion. Nor is it unreasonable to see a connection between the Pope's first visit to Poland in 1979 and the birth of Solidarity in the following year.

John Paul's 27-year reign corresponded with the period from the high-point of Soviet power to its ultimate collapse and the continuing spread of freedom in the aftermath of that collapse. Only a fool or an intellectual can believe that that correspondence was a coincidence.


  • ... and Michael Novak noted in his NR column "John Paul the Great" (current issue) that candles were burning in both the Vatican and the White House during Martial Law.

    By Blogger Up With Me, at 11:16 AM  

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