I was listening to the news this morning, several commentators remarking on the relative weakness of the words of Pres. Obama concerning freedom in Iran. They mentioned John Paul II and Pres. Reagan, both of whom gave very clear, strong support for freedom in Europe.
Nina Easton mentioned that JPII spoke in "code" with those huge crowds in Poland. Good.
I think Easton is right. It reminds me of the standard joke from the Workers’ Paradise: "They pretend to pay us, so we pretend to work!" 🙂
BUT there is another thing to consider:
- JPII was a bishop, so he was thinking about Catholic things;
- he had been a philosophy professor in Cracow;
- he was a playwright and poet, creative with words.
So there is a good chance that JPII could have talked "in the clear" — without using code phrases — and Brezhnev et al. up in Moscow would still have experienced their eyes glazing over, instead of seeing red! The Kremlin bosses could not think like a Catholic, but JPII certainly did! 🙂
Those same words lit up the crowds in Poland.
I was at World Youth Day in Denver in 1993, and his homily at Mass on August 15 had a similar effect. We were the better part of a million, from all over the world, thirsty as the Dickens, dusty, tired from hiking many miles to that hillside and no sleep in the previous 24 hours, and all of us listening to our radios with translation of his homily into umpteen languages. It always hit me hard that, at the best, most profound parts of his homily, the entire 3/4 million went wild with cheering. It was breathtaking.
I figure something like that also happened in Poland.