When, in 1944, Winston Churchill suggested that the Allies consider the Vatican’s views when planning the future of a heavily Catholic Poland, Stalin famously replied, “The Pope? How many divisions has he got?”
The Pope had no divisions, of course. But, as Stalin’s successors would learn, he had millions of supporters whom he could spur to action. When, in 1979, John Paul II told his fellow Poles during a trip to his native land, “Do not be afraid,” he gave important moral support to the democratic stirrings that would eventually bring down the Soviet empire.
In the 1980s – in what became a pivotal moment in world history – John Paul II worked closely with President Reagan in what was, according to Reagan’s former National Security Advisor, Richard Allen, “one of the great secret alliances of all time.”