Pope John Paul II has passed at the age of 84. This isn't a tragedy given his advanced age and failing health, but it is a loss of incalculable magnitude. Joseph Stalin once said derisively about an earlier pope, "How many divisions does he have?" Well, it turns out that this pope, John Paul II, had divisions in the millions, ones that would not and did not accept the nothingness of communist atheism, or its moral void. And John Paul II was not afraid to mobilize them. He openly challenged the communist government of Poland, and by extension, the Soviet government. It was John Paul II, as well as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, that was primarily responsible for the implosion of the Soviet empire. Many have (and continue to) debate that these three icons had anything to do with the demise of communism in Europe. Let them. Lech Walesa, the leader of the Solidarity movement in Poland, put it best, "It is true that communism would've fallen at some point, but it would've taken longer and it would've been bloodier." So threatened was the Soviet leadership over this "insolent priest" that they subcontracted an assassination on him to Bulgarian intelligence, and used a Turkish Muslim, Mehmet Ali Agcar, to pull the trigger. Whilst Reagan and Thatcher checked Soviet military aggression with calculated gambles, John Paul II checkmated the communists where it hurt the most and from where they could never respond in kind: spiritually.
Well done, Karol. Godspeed.