My second comment on Niall Ferguson’s article Aftermath: the fall of the Berlin Wall — and its lesson for China 30 years on in The Sunday Times.
Pope John Paul II, whom the author mentions, did not oppose Communists. He collaborated with them. He celebrated the 26 anniversary of his pontificate in October 2004 with the special performance of the Red Army Choir, known otherwise as the Alexandrov Ensemble. The concert took place in the Pope Paul VI Auditorium and was broadcast on tv to both Italy and Russia. The last song performed that evening was “Oka”, the anthem of the Polish Communist Army formed in the Soviet Union in 1943. You can view the video of it on Youtube. This army was later the backbone of the Communist dictatorship in Poland.
The key figure in the Catholic church who staunchly opposed Communism was Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty, the Hungarian Primate, imprisoned by the Hungarian Communists from 1948 to 1956. From 1956 to 1971 he was a special guest of the American Embassy in Budapest, where he was granted asylum. Pope Paul VI stripped Mindszenty of his church titles, including the title of the cardinal, in 1973. The Vatican basically wanted Mindszenty to stop speaking against Communism and resign voluntarily. I recommend reading Mindszenty’s “Memoirs” published in 1974.
In Poland, just like in Hungary and other Communist countries, the church was firmly under the regime’s control. It benefited Communists to present the church hierarchy as a collection of independent figures opposed to the dictatorship. There was simply no way they would allow the advance of an anti-Communist on the ladder of the church hierarchy.
Pope John Paul II refused to pray for the thousands of Polish officers murdered by the Soviet NKVD in 1940.
So, instead of a thoughtful analysis, we have a mindless repetition of a fairy tale about the fall of Communism and Pope John Paul II alleged magical role in it.
The fall of the Berlin Wall plays a role analogous to that of a pretty lady accompanying an illusionist. Communism has not fallen and there is plenty of evidence that it didn’t.