Popes John XXIII and John Paul II, who will be canonized Sunday, ascended to become giants of Roman Catholicism in part because of their shared devotion to freedom, Newsmax's President and CEO Christopher Ruddy said on Newsmax TV on Friday.
Ruddy spoke about the two pontiffs with J.D. Hayworth and John Bachman on "America's Forum" from Rome, where preparations are underway for the unprecedented twin canonizations.
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"Both John XXIII and John Paul II were children of World War II," Ruddy said. "It was very important in their lives. During World War II, John XXIII was known to have falsified baptismal certificates so that Jews could escape the Holocaust. John Paul II tried to help Jews as well and be an anti-Nazi partisan in Poland during World War II. So they were both men committed to freedom. During the Cold War, that lasted almost four decades, they fought on the side of freedom."
Ruddy explained that John Paul II believed "the idea of sainthood is that these people are special role models," which led to almost as many canonizations on his watch than in all the years before. With that idea still prevalent in today's thinking, John Paul II's alignment against communism in the 1980s strikes a particular resonant chord with American Catholics.
"John Paul II was a popular Pope for many, many reasons," Ruddy said. "I think many Americans respect him because they see him as this great soldier for freedom, that he had aligned himself with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher to help bring down the iron curtain. They really did embark on a strategy to undermine the Soviet Union, and the Pope was very pivotal in that, so I think the Pols greatly appreciate what he did for Poland. The people all over the world, and especially in the West, where we faced the Soviet Empire just 20 years ago, the 'Great Bear' with nuclear weapons, we were able to reduce that conflict and to stop it."
Ruddy is in Rome with a delegation that includes former Poland President Lech Walesa, Michael Reagan, son of former President Ronald Reagan, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and political commentator and consultant Dick Morris.
Ruddy said that although Friday was particularly quiet, as Romans celebrated Liberation Day, marking the fall of Mussolini's Italian Social Republic and the end of the Nazi occupation in Italy in 1945, excitement for Sunday's ceremony was still palpable.
"I think there's a feeling here of jubilation in honoring a man that has been, not just for Catholics but for all people that love freedom, a soldier who understood that if we were going to defeat the Soviet Union, we needed to defeat it not with weapons but with a better idea," Ruddy said of John Paul II. "Use the spiritual and moral authority of the West. When he took that trip to Poland when he first became Pope, he was there for nine days. There's a film that's entitled 'Nine Days That Changed the World,'
and that really was ground zero for the beginning of the end of the Soviet Empire."
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