Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy hosted a delegation of Americans to the papal canonizations in Rome. Lech Walesa, Poland's former president, gave an address at Newsmax's dinner in Rome Friday night. Here are his remarks:
When I was involved in my opposition and fight against communism, we all fought against more than 200,000 Soviet troops permanently based on Polish territory and over a million Soviet troops in the surrounding satellite countries, plus nuclear silos as well
At the same time, it was whispered into our ears that we stood no chance whatsoever of changing that status quo. The communist regime never allowed us to integrate or get together. Whenever there was any attempt by dissidents and those opposed to the regime to get together, we would always be split and fragmented.
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You may still remember the reality back then that no one really believed there was any chance whatsoever to overcome that situation in the world. I personally had the opportunity to consult all the big leaders of the world at that time: presidents, prime ministers and even some kings. And none of them – not even a single one – claimed there was the least of chance of changing the status quo other than through a nuclear war.
Why are we looking back at that situation now? Simply because when we raise the issue of globalization or of European integration, we also hear voices of objection against those projects. When we were involved in the struggle against communism, as the end of the second millennium of Christianity was approaching, the world was totally helpless in the face of this reality.
We felt so helpless, even with the gift of a Polish Pope who actually broke down barriers in people. But a year after his election to the papacy, he came to Poland and I wonder whether you still recall the images of those events. We had almost all the Polish people flock, coming from all over the country, to meet him – almost all of them. And the world was amazed to see a supposedly communist country praying so fervently to the extent that even the secret police and the communists learned how to cross themselves. They never learned the proper words [In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen], so they would be saying “one, two, three, four, five.”
But we were totally amazed seeing them do these things and we had to come to realize that they couldn’t be true communists, and we were no longer scared of them. We had a Holy Father calling us to pray, of course, but on that occasion we didn’t realize we were so many [who prayed]. Previously, we had heard there were few opponents to the regime and suddenly we realized there really were very few communists. Had it not been the Holy Father we would never have integrated, we would never have been able to realize we were so many. And once we suddenly saw how many we were, that really gave us confidence. Also the dissident movement already in existence in Poland, although not very big, was able to lead those crowds towards victory.
But let us not forget that a similar thing happened in Cuba, that the same Holy Father went to Cuba after our victory had been won. He even worked harder there and yet Cuba remains a communist regime. Quite simply, what was missing in Cuba was the leadership of dissident organizations which could lead the nation. This is quite amazing because Cuba is so close to the United States, and the fact that the regime still persists there, makes us suspect that maybe the United States wants to keep Cuba as a “Jurassic park of communism” and that’s why it’s still there, because otherwise it’s impossible that it is still there.
To conclude, make me make one appeal to you: we have been given such a wonderful example of how great victories can be won and we know that back then, in the 1970s and 1980s, we didn’t believe victory was possible because what we were calculating were the troops, the tanks, the silos. When calculating like this, we underestimated the value of God and the Spirit — that was where the miscalculation was. And if we draw a proper conclusion from what we learned when we did win the victory and how we won it, we will begin establishing the third millennium basing ourselves on values.
Of course, we cannot reach immediate consensus on these values, but we have to agree on them. They have to be values accepted by all religions, all religious people, and we’re successful in doing that then we will really construct a future much better than our past was. We have accomplished so much within the lifetime of this generation: we ended the era of wars, divisions, revolutions, and have opened up the era of information, the Internet, of globalization.
But for the moment these concepts such as globalization are empty, they are still new but without content, and a generation with as much experience as we have should really debate which content should be placed in these concepts to establish this third millennium.
I’m confident we can contribute to that, and by us I mean our generation, because the coming generation will no longer have the same experience. We really have the opportunity to enjoy peace, prosperity and well-being, providing we reform the structures in which we organize ourselves, the platforms which we follow. Our Pope, who so many of us knew, will be a kind of spark or torch who can lead us towards solutions.
And I wish you, and myself as well, will really take advantage of this beginning of the third millennium to establish the foundations of a future world based on values. Thank you very much for your attention and I hope for another opportunity to speak more fully on this.
After his address, Walesa responded to a question about the crisis in Ukraine:
The process and debate that I have mentioned on integration of Europe, globalization — that debate has not been fast enough. Hence we have the situation, conflict, between Ukraine and Russia but also due to the fact that this debate is too slow. We had the financial crisis not long ago and we cannot get ahead of the developments, finding solutions that could anticipate those developments.
And you know if you ask me what to do now, bearing in mind Ukraine and Russia, I think that the superpower — the only one left, the U.S. — should motivate, suggest and instigate the establishment of solidarity. We would need a small group to carry it out, which would find and assess resources and ways of bringing Putin onto the right path. If we had that sort of group to work out solutions to that problem, then we would be able to ask each country throughout the world whether they like what Putin’s doing? I’m almost certain every country, of course, would be against it, object to it, and that would be great, wonderful.
And then the next question we can ask those countries is what can be your contribution, and how can you contribute money-wise, in order to really teach Putin a lesson? And of course some countries are directly involved, others are less directly involved, but [it is fine] as we all act in the same direction.
We understand that different countries have different interests, so of course they can assist our effort openly and others can support us less officially, because we all want peace and proper progress and also we want the world to be peaceful.
The stronger we remain in solidarity and all as one, the quicker Putin will get back to proper ways. So let us get together. Superpower, it’s your task to do it. I have said it many times before: 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. Why not share it [superpower status] with Poland? We’ll know what to do with it.
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