John Paul II’s legacy is alive and well, and living in Kyiv

Feb 23, 2023 4 Min Read
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Three leaders of NATO member states – and, as it happens, three Roman Catholic laity deeply involved in politics – all issued stirring defenses of Ukraine this week, as the one-year anniversary of its war with Russia approaches tomorrow.

US President Joe Biden delivered a forceful speech in Warsaw Tuesday in which he vowed that the free world “will not tire” in its support for Ukraine, thundering that “tyrants” such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin only understand the word “no,” while his host, Polish President Andrzej Duda, insisted that “Ukraine must win this war.”

At the same moment that Biden and Duda’s tête-à-tête was playing out, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni was in the Ukrainian city of Bucha, site of a 2022 massacre by Russian forces that left nearly 500 people dead, to tell Ukrainians that Italy “will be with you until the end.”

“You’re not alone,” Meloni told the Ukrainians. “We will fight for your freedom.”

In his own speech Tuesday, Duda explicitly cited the example of Pope John Paul II, whose support of the Solidarity movement in Poland in the late 1970s and 1980s helped set the dominos in motion that led to the collapse of the Soviet empire.

“The Pope, St. John Paul II, spoke of solidarity,” Duda said. “Nobody can oppose what we obtained through solidarity. Thanks to our efforts, we broke the chain of communism and we entered the free world. We helped open up the Iron Curtain.”

“This was thanks to human solidarity, and today it allows us to help the Ukrainians,” the Polish leader said.

John L. Allen Jr.

Crux Now

John L. Allen Jr. is the editor of Crux, specializing in coverage of the Vatican and the Catholic Church.

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