JPII Pontificate

News: Video Reports
by Trey Blanton  •  •  March 26, 2022   

The Vatican fight against communism

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Pope St. John Paul II was ardently anti-communist, and Moscow recognized him as a threat to global Marxism. On May 13, 1981, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, a Turkish assassin shot the pontiff in a Soviet plot against the papacy. Church Militant's Trey Blanton more on the remarkable story of the saint who defeated the "Evil Empire."

JPII would require months to recover from the near-fatal attack. In America, six weeks prior, the recently elected president, Ronald Reagan, was also hospitalized by an assassin's bullet. The shared experience increased the bond between two world leaders determined to end the scourge of communism.

Pope St. John Paul II: "I wish to re-affirm, through you [Reagan], my friendship and esteem for all the citizens of your great nation."

JPII's pontifical visit to his Polish homeland in 1979 demonstrated the overwhelming commitment Poles still had to their Catholic faith. This staunch faith sparked fury in the Kremlin, and Poland's Communist Party imposed strict martial law in 1981 to prevent an outright genocide.

After years of effort, Mikhail Gorbachev in 1988 invited a delegation from the Vatican. Gorbachev's pledge the same year to enact more religious freedom was greeted with praise from JPII.

President Ronald Reagan: "Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate."

Three weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Gorbachev met the pope in the Vatican, presaging the imminent downfall of communist Russia.

JPII had a lifelong devotion to Mary. After surviving the assassination attempt, he credited her, under the title of Our Lady of Fatima, with saving his life.

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