A global leader in the mold of Pope John Paul II is much needed to prevent today’s socialists imposing their own values on the world, former Polish President Lech Walesa told Newsmax Friday.
In comments at a special Newsmax dinner in Rome ahead of Sunday's canonization of Pope John Paul II and John XXIII on Sunday, Walesa paid tribute
to the late Polish pontiff, saying he remains a "light for the future of the world."
Francis: Pope’s Hidden Life Revealed.
"The third millennium that is now underway actually doesn’t have a structure or foundations," he said. "There’s a great debate over whether this millennium will be based on freedoms only, or on values."
But John Paul II, he said, "is a kind of lantern showing to people that you have to build on values. From this point of view, he’s so needed today, so that those of a left-wing orientation don’t establish it their way."
Walesa was received in private audience by Pope Francis at the Vatican Saturday on the eve of the canonization of the late popes. Between 1 million and 5 million pilgrims are expected to attend the Mass in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday in possibly the largest single event Rome has ever witnessed.
In an after-dinner speech, the former Polish shipyard worker who led the Solidarity movement in the 1970s and 1980s, said Poles felt powerless to effectively oppose Soviet communism. But after John Paul II visited the country in 1979, they realized that support for the communists was much less than they’d imagined.
"Had it not been the Holy Father, we would never have integrated, we would never have been able to realize we were so many," he said. "And once we suddenly saw how many we were, that really gave us confidence."
Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose television documentary "Nine Days that Changed the World" chronicles that historic visit to Poland in 1979, explained how both John Paul II and John XXIII showed that in the end "it’s not the physical" but the spiritual that really matters.
"We’re here this weekend to celebrate two people who had no divisions, bombers or nuclear bombers, and yet they changed the world," Gingrich said.
This is "very, very important" to recognize, Gingrich continued, visibly moved by the occasion. John XXIII, he explained, had the courage to modernize the Church because it was out of touch with the people; John Paul II became the "organizing principle of freedom" so people "were no longer afraid."
Speaking earlier to Newsmax, American theologian Michael Novak, who reported on the Second Vatican Council that aimed to bring the Church into the modern world, stressed that "without John XXIII and the council, John Paul II would never have left Poland."
"The pontificate of John Paul II rounded out the council, completed it, so to speak, produced a catechism which brought the faith to the people," he said.
Michael Reagan, son of President Ronald Reagan who, along with John Paul II and Margaret Thatcher are credited for bringing down Soviet communism, said the world was "lucky to live in a time where we had such wonderful leaders working together towards freedom for all."
"People say: ‘I wish we had your father back.’ I say I wish we had them all back but we have to learn now how to move forward," he told Newsmax. "Right now we lack that cadre of leaders that we had during the 1980s."
Reagan said he is often asked what was the bond between his father and John Paul II, to which he responds: "They were both bonded by an assassin’s bullet."
"What did Ronald Reagan do before he went back to the White House? He dedicated his presidency to God and asked for forgiveness of [his would-be assassin] John Hinckley. And what did John Paul do before he went back to the Vatican? He rededicated his papacy to God and asked for forgiveness for the man who tried to kill him."
American Cardinal Raymond Burke, who heads the Vatican’s highest court, believes the reason John Paul was so powerful in defeating communism "was because he was such an effective teacher of the truth," he told Newsmax. "The truth always exposes these kind of ideologies where there are falsehoods, and therefore their confusion and destruction which they cause," he said.
Asked if the same principles John Paul used against communism could be just as successfully applied in combatting the culture of death, Walesa said "very much so."
"Nobody ever thought we could stop the communists and bring communism down, whereas thanks to values it was brought down," he said.
"We didn’t believe victory was possible because what we were calculating were the troops, the tanks, the silos," he said. "When calculating like this, we underestimated the value of God and the Spirit.
When the world learns how that battle was really won, he said, "we will begin establishing the third millennium basing ourselves on values."
He called on the United States, as the world superpower, to take the lead in this task.
"The US, being the world superpower, should be the leader, and also serve as a superpower to the world, even if the US doesn’t want this superpower position," he said.
If it doesn’t want to, "why not share its [superpower status] with Poland?," he asked, half-jokingly. "We’ll know what to do with it."
Francis: Pope’s Hidden Life Revealed.
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