Fulton Sheen was a Catholic bishop who had the most popular show on television back in the 50’s. I started watching re-runs of his show and noticed he was always going on about how evil and destructive Communism is. I thought, hey, we read The Crucible in high school. Isn’t that threat of communism stuff a paranoid McCarthy-ist myth? Then one day, sitting in a doctor’s waiting room reading magazines, I came across this graph: I had never even heard of China’s “Great Leap Forward”. I would have guessed the Nazis killed the most people.
I found out that the Catholic Church had been railing against Communism before it even caught on. In 1846 Pope Pius IX predicted that Communism would “utterly destroy the rights, property and possessions of all men, and even society itself.” Pope Leo XIII in 1878 called it “the fatal plague which insinuates itself into the very marrow of human society only to bring about its ruin” and that socialists would seek to destroy the Catholic Church because we presuppose a right to property by calling theft and envy evil.
In the Soviet Union, and many other Communist countries, priests and nuns were executed, churches closed, and atheism was promoted in school. You could be arrested for talking about religion. Apparently lots of killing was necessary for the government to impose this worldly paradise. You would think atheism means opting out of the whole believing/dogma/proselytism business, but that’s not what happened in Communist countries.
In the 80’s President Reagan created a military competition that drove the Soviets to economic ruin, but Pope John Paul started his own tear in the Iron Curtain by encouraging the Solidarity movement in Poland. LinkLinkLinkLinkLink Now if I’m Russia, but I’m going look at the Pope and say, “Pbbbth…who cares?! Oh, please Mr. Scary Pontiff, don’t poke us with your pointy hat!” But a nine day papal visit to Poland in 1979 started the dominoes falling that would topple a nuclear-armed superpower without firing a shot. Good thing too, because the Soviet Union’s “Operation Dead Hand” would have made any war unwinnable. Even Gorbachev admitted non-violent overthrow would have been impossible without the Pope. You would think this would merit a little grudging gratitude, but no, people continue to kick the Catholic Church in the head. We just saved the world from tyranny and destruction…you’re welcome!
I wasn’t going to mention Fatima because I didn’t want to strain your credulity so early in this letter, so read the attached only if you’re feeling particularly open minded. LinkLink Atheist newspaper reporters were mocking the prediction right up to the designated day and time, but they changed their tune after witnessing the event themselves. I love reading debunker websites like “Skepdic’s Dictionary” because 99% of the time they are right, and most “visionaries” are easily debunked, but I’ve never heard a skeptic credibly explain away what happened that day. I would say it was mass hysteria, but people miles away from the crowd saw it too. I bring this up only because Our Lady’s prediction was that “Russia will spread her errors throughout the world”. Unless three uneducated shepherd children secretly knew some prophetic geniuses of geopolitics and astronomy, then I’d say Fatima accurately foretold the future and warned us in advance about Communism.
Stalin once mockingly asked, “How many divisions does the pope have?” Apparently the pope didn’t need an army. Communists fought the Church with imprisonment, torture, executions, and infiltration of our seminaries. We fought with words. Communism collapsed and the Catholic Church survives as it has for 2,000 years. Stalingrad is again St. Petersburg. How could the Church not only survive such persecution but emerge victorious? And how could the irrational, corrupt, and superstitious Catholic Church see in advance that Communism would be a disaster when the rest of the world, particularly those in academia, seemed to think it was a great idea. The Church claims to be the guardian and keeper of truth and Christ said it would never be destroyed. Matt16:18 The Church certainly seems to have lived up to its boast as it opposed the most destructive idea of the 20th Century.