By Francis P. Sempa
Communism’s greatest enemy has traditionally been organized religion, especially the Roman Catholic Church. The beginnings of the Soviet empire’s unraveling can be traced to 6:15 pm on October 16, 1978, when Poland’s Cardinal Karol Wojtyla was elected Pope and took the name John Paul II.
Upon hearing of Wojtyla’s election, Soviet KGB chief Yuri Andropov called a subordinate in Warsaw and asked: “How could you possibly allow the election of a citizen of a socialist country as pope?” Andropov ordered the KGB’s First Chief Directorate to assess this development’s consequences. The KGB report warned about Poland’s potential destabilization and the end of the Warsaw Pact. The Soviet Central Committee conducted its own assessment and concluded that the new pope would work for religious freedom in Poland and throughout Eastern Europe.
George Weigel, John Paul II’s best biographer, noted that the election of a Slavic Pope who was “capable of addressing the restive peoples of the external and internal Soviet empires in their own languages, was a nightmare beyond the worst dreams of the masters of the Kremlin.” “The new Pope,” Weigel continued, “posed a serious threat, not simply to the Warsaw Pact, but to the Soviet Union itself.” more here