Vatican in the Shadow of the Red Star

My comment on the article Pope Francis ‘naive’ in deal with China to name bishops by Tom Kington and Didi Tang in The Times, 19 September 2020. Polish translation: Czerwona gwiazda nad Watykanem.

This is nothing new in the Vatican. Earlier popes appeased Communists in Eastern Europe in a similar way. It was done under the banner of ‘normalization’. It is worth reading “Memoirs” of Jozsef Mindszenty, the Hungarian cardinal who never bowed to the Communists. He described how the Communist regime was taking over the control over the Catholic Church in Hungary after WWII. Something very similar was done in other Communist countries.

Mindszenty was eventually stripped of his cardinal dignity for his resistance to Communist rule by pope Paul VI himself. Shocking and disgusting, if you ask me. Cardinal Casaroli was then making rounds between Rome and Communist capitals in Eastern Europe and making deals with them, sealing the Communist control of the church affairs.

The election of Karol Wojtyła from Poland as pope John Paul II in 1978 extended direct Communist control to the Vatican. Wojtyła was not opposing Communists. He was working with them and for them. Otherwise he would be eliminated early on.

Later, the legend of Wojtyła’s opposition to Communism was fabricated. Utter nonsense. John Paul II celebrated the 26th anniversary of his pontificate with the Red Army Choir’s concert in the Paul VI auditorium in the Vatican on October 15, 2004. The last song performed that evening was “Oka”, the anthem of the Communist First Division formed in the Soviet Union in 1943. The concert was broadcast on tv to Italy and Russia. BBC and some other media reported on the concert, but nobody expressed any surprise or feelings of unease over the concert. The “Oka” song was not mentioned publicly as well. The Italian announcer introduced it simply as a ‘Polish song’.

The subsequent turbo-propelled extra quick canonization of John Paul II is not a result of divine interventions. It was his Communist comrades who did the job. A posthumous life achievement award for his services.

Polish émigré writer Józef Mackiewicz wrote a book entitled “Vatican Under the Shadow of the Red Star”, Watykan w Cieniu Czerwonej Gwiazdy, in the 1970s. I don’t think there is an English translation of it though.


  • József Cardinal Mindszenty, Memoirs, New York: Macmillan (1974)
  • Józef Mackiewicz, Watykan w Cieniu Czerwonej Gwiazdy.