30 Years Ago Today, the Papal Shooting

Today, Friday, May 13, 2011, is the 30th anniversary of the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II on May 13, 1981 just six weeks after the attempt on the life of president Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981.


Both men survived. It truly was the year that freedom itself lived.


The stories of these attempts appear unrelated but in a strange way they converge. They come out of anger, loneliness, evil and repression.


President Reagan’s attacker was John Hinckley, a young, confused, unattractive American maniac obsessed with a violent Hollywood movie called Taxi Driver and its celebrity star Jodie Foster.


The criminal who tried to assassinate the Pope was Mehmet Ali Agca, a trained killer from Turkey who is strongly suspected of having been working under the orders of the violent and atheistic government in the Soviet Union.


So: Hollywood is on the political left and foments violence and chaos through its films. The Soviet Union also was on the tyrannical left and used violence, deception and manipulation to keep power. And these two forces ended up allying themselves coincidentally to try to silence two men who were based in peace and truth.


Ronald Reagan was the first American president to survive an assassination attempt. A bullet lodged in his chest just inches from his  heart. The team that treated him found that Reagan’s blood pressure after the shooting had dropped dangerously low, indicating that he was in shock. They knew that most men of Reagan’s age – he was 70 at the time – did not survive such conditions. Pope John Paul was shot four times and lost 75% of his blood. Yet both men miraculously survived.


Or better yet, they survived as part of God’s miraculous plan…


God indeed was on the side of both men, who then joined forces to defeat God-less communism in the global monster called the Soviet Union, which was enslaving 400 million people in a dark, murderous system in Russia, in its neighbors and in Eastern Europe.


Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul, along with the ‘Iron Lady’ prime minister Margaret Thatcher of England were three humble leaders of unparalleled character, merit and distinction who each rose from very modest roots. They acted with force, aplomb and conviction and with guidance from heaven to confront, expose and cause the collapse of the arrogant Soviet Union. Bullets could not stop them.  And if those events of 1981 had turned out differently, freedom would have died for 400 million souls.


John Paul II, born Karol Jozef Wojtyla in 1921 in Poland, spent his life there until 1978 when he became Pope. When he announced his plan in 1981 to visit his homeland – which had been dominated by Soviet communism after World War II up through 1989 – Soviet leader Yuri Andropov determined that he had to be stopped. Because Poland already had seen winds of democratic change in the Solidarity movement of 1980.


Indeed Reagan, John Paul II, Thatcher and other players like German chancellor Helmut Kohl rose up and did their brave and humanitarian duty.  It was not easy, however. The international media, with its usual leftist slant, savagely criticized Reagan for everything he did.


When Reagan rightfully called the Soviet Union an “evil empire”, the left had a fainting spell. When Reagan demanded that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev “Tear down this wall!” referring to the Berlin Wall, the media elites thought is was a dastardly insult to the good communist leader. When Reagan forged forth with his plan to install  upgraded nuclear missiles in Europe to protect the free part of the Continent from possible Soviet intimidation, the Euros themselves protested in the streets by the millions.


Reagan held firm, however. Because he knew about evil and so did the Pope, but each on a different level.


Reagan had worked in sunny Hollywood in the 1940s and 1950s and knew well about communist agitators there, people who spread strife. And throughout his adult life, he studied the tactics and the mindset of communist governments around the globe. John Paul had survived World War II in Poland, knew communism from living under it for decades after the war, and saw evil in Andropov and his corrupt system. 


These were two men of discipline and courage to start with, who had common sense, eternal wisdom and love for their fellow man. Reagan was a Midwesterner who migrated to Hollywood and made himself up out of nothing. John Paul had lost his father, mother, sister and brother to early deaths. He eventually became Catholic bishop, archbishop and cardinal in Cracow, Poland and then became head of the world church. They both knew what it meant to fight the odds and to remain humble along the way.


And their near-assassinations were just steps along their blessed paths. What the vagaries and hardships of life itself could not do to silence or cow them, bullets could not either. And neither could the evil of Soviet communism. Indeed 1981 was the year that freedom could have died. But for the good of mankind, it lived.


Please visit my website at www.nikitas3.com for more. You can read excerpts from my book, Right Is Right, which explains why only conservatism can maintain our freedom and prosperity.