tv Pope John Paul II and Ronald Reagan CSPAN July 31, 2017 12:00am-1:16am EDT
history. professor paul king gort discusses the cold war relationship between president ronald reagan and pope john paul ii. the institute of world politics hosted this 90 minute event. marek: hello, ladies and gentlemen. today, you will be blessed because we will talk about god and ronald reagan. [laughter] for some, ronald reagan was god, with a lowercase g. there's no better person to pontificate about reagan, his
faith, and about the roman pontiff than paul kengor. paul is a force of nature. he doesn't have to bend. he can tell it as it is. and that is fabulous because that is a philosophy we adhere to hear at the institute of world politics. paul kengor is a public intellectual on the conservative side. is one of the few -- he is one of the few who has managed to break through the pontiff ceiling across the nation.
he has written a number of works on conservative issues. he also has written a few things -- more than a few things about ronald reagan, including "the crusader," one of my favorite books. last but not least, i would like to recognize paul kengor for appreciating the institute of world politics. he has been in and out and around the institute, nailing it
down -- nailing down its resources, human resources, including my mentor, late professor romer steen. it is the junkyard dog qualities a professor kengor that some of the dinosaurs even talked. i have begged them forever, please, write books. please provide the truth. please, give us an alternative narrative that would shed true light into the past. instead, most of the cold warriors have left everything in the evil hands of the evil ones, such institutions like the washington compost or the new york slime. [laughter] fortunately for us, and for posterity, we have dr. kengor.
without much more do, please welcome him. yay. [applause] paul: thank you, marek. i appreciate that. imagine an educational institution not taking federal money. how can you not exist without government money? absolutely amazing. is it possible to run an educational institution without money -- government money? how can that be done? we lost that case. in the end, maybe we won a longer battle. i want to thank john and this outstanding institution. i'm glad c-span is here. thank you, c-span, for coming. and above all, for many reasons, not just to cover this talk, but also to be here at the institute
of world politics. hopefully, more young people around the country will learn about the institute of world politics. please google, take a look. i recommend. my students here are all the time it is really an outstanding choice. a pope and a president, ronald reagan and john paul ii, john paul ii and ronald reagan. this is a subject i have been researching for a long time. i started filing foia requests back in 2000 at the reagan library. i have written literally at least a dozen books in the interim between when i started filing those foia's and when this came out. this was the project that i
could not walk away from. really a product more people giving me information and telling me things that i was astounded to hear, that i did not know. the on-again/off-again -- i finally got to the point where i had to say i have to write this. there's too much important information out there that is given to me that people don't know about. and it needs to be told. the history had to be told. a presentation on a 640-page book -- i probably shouldn't say that. nobody will buy it now. but where do you even start? that's ok. you should be doing pr for me. that was half the length of this book. i think i had a chapter in that book about reagan and john paul ii. i needed more pages to tell the story. where do you start in the presentation? i started the book in 1917. but here, given only an hour and you cannot go through 600 pages in an hour, i will start on october 16, 1978.
on that day, after a six-decade-long soviet war on religion, mikael gorbachev described as a war on religion. he did not like it. he called it off. marx had called religion the opiate of the masses. lenin said all worship of a divinity is a necrophilia. he said there is nothing more abominable than religion. these men hated religion. they shut down churches. they blew up churches. they destroyed them.
they literally banned the ringing of church bells. they crashed the bells to the ground. they melted them down into useful things, as one aide of stalin put it, as opposed to unuseful things like clanging for got in a church. after all of these six decades, this goes on, persecuting the religious, russian orthodox priests, rabbis, anybody who believed in god. october 16, 1978, the college of cardinals, the conclave, out of the heart of the communist soviet bloc in poland, the only country where the war on religion totally failed. the communists had some success in czechoslovakia squashing report -- religion. but they couldn't stop it in poland, were something like 90% of the country was still practicing roman catholic. after a pope who lives for 33 days, the conclave meets again and they picked the first non-italian pope in 406 he five years. think how -- 465 years.
think about how long that is. the pope was italian. they picked the first slavic pope ever, and it is the archbishop from krakow, from poland. shows in the 264th heir to the chair st. peter. polls were ecstatic when they heard about this, when they heard rumors of first. is this even possible? they went to the communist-controlled media to try to find at any confirmation if this had truly happened. if a polish priest had become pope, there is no way this could have possibly happened. christophe meister, a polish
physicist, talks about watching the communist evening news broadcast. they put it this way. an announcer came on with a very, very sad face and said that a new pope had been elected and it was cardinal boy diva. that was it. they did not say anything else. then the announcers switched to the harvest for years the potato crop. it was absolutely amazing. the reaction by moscow was also very subdued. the public reaction was very subdued. all i could find in the archives -- i found three senses reported under the title "new head of the catholic church." "the head of the new roman catholic church was announced here. he is a polish cardinal. he has taken the name john paul ii." that was it. the chief said he should direct his question to officials in rome, rather than in poland. he was not amused.
[laughter] do they know what they have done here? moscow was wondering the same thing. october 26, 1978, his first sunday homily, john paul ii exhorted the faithful with these words. you probably know the first three. be not afraid. open the doors to christ. open them wide. open the borders of states. economic and political systems, open the vast domains of culture. open them to his saving power. open the borders of states, economic and political systems. some moscow was very afraid of
this. they were even more afraid and apoplectic when the new pope announced that his first foreign visit was going to be to poland, of all things. if there is a story running through this book am in the case of both reagan and john paul ii, among the different branches that they shared, it was courage. my first visit will be to poland. they are not going to like it in moscow. of course they are not going to like it moscow. my first foreign visit will be to poland. brezhnev called edward garrick, his communist puppet in poland, literally called him on the phone -- we know have a transcript of the conversation -- and told him to tell the pope no, he can't come to poland. and garrick said to him -- how can i not receive a polish pope when the majority of my country or catholics? he told them to come up with a nifty excuse. tell the pope. he is a wise man.
that he can announced the book he he cannot come because he has taken l. [laughter] imagine -- taken ill. [laughter] and imagine that. garrick gently told his boss that he couldn't say that. in reply, brezhnev barked at him that -- was a better communist than you. and slander down the phone. so john paul ii goes to poland. nine days to poland, huge crowds. hundreds of thousands, millions of people. imagine a million people standing in line to receive communion, right? that's have a some of these masses were. the head of the solidarity movement said this -- he comes to poland, and the 20 who followed me in the solidarity movement were suddenly 10 million. it was a greater multiplication
than the loaves and the fishes. indeed, it was. go from 20 to 10 million. for his opening homily at victory square on june 2, imagine the symbolism of fat -- of that, right? victory square. victory square is the spot he chooses. john paul ii said that christ cannot be kept out of the history of man in any part of the globe, at any longitude latitude. the excursion of christ from the history of man is an act against man. without christ, it is impossible to understand the history of poland. what ronald reagan would call the martyred nation of poland. and then he said this. there can be no just europe without the independence of
poland marked on its map. that was a shot heard around the world. in reaction to this, the new york times -- any chance i get to take a shot at the new york times, i take it -- wrote an editorial on june 5, 1975. this is so snooty. they said this. as much as the visit of john paul ii to poland must reinvigorate and re-inspire the roman catholic church in poland, it does not threaten the political order of the nation or eastern europe. [laughter] so tell that to moscow. ronald reagan's reaction to this -- we know, because he was watching footage of it in his living room in california. he was an ex governor at that point. reagan was watching this and
there were tears in his eyes. and reagan said, that's it, that's it, that's it. the pope is the key. the pope is the key. we need to get elected. we need to reject the pope and the vatican and make them an ally. as alan put it, he said then and there that the pope was the key figure in determining the fate of poland, and the fate of poland would affect the state of the comments block. he saw the pope's visit as an extra ordinary wedge into the very hearts, into their center of the communist domain. reagan immediately went into a radio studio in california. he was doing a daily radio broadcast, the gray can indicator right? he understood the power of radio -- the great communicator, right? he understood the power of radio. they were three to 400 -- 300 to 400 words each. they were two to three minute radio broadcasts. he recorded two or three of them
on the pope's visit to poland. how many divisions does the pope have? reagan said, now we've seen have many divisions the pope has. wherever he went in poland, crowds, 400,000, 500 thousand, one million, 5 million. then reagan asked -- will the kremlin ever be the same again? will any of us, for that matter, ever be the same again? and reagan was never the same again after he saw them. november 13, 1979, this document was found a few years ago by john kohler, the cold war researcher, from ap reporter. it is a central committee meeting. nine soviet officials met on that day. one of them was mikael gorbachev, who would it -- who would later deny the negative interpretation of this is what he saw it intended to mean. they were furious, apoplectic over this new polish pope. they were try to figure out what to do about him, about this
menace, who take october 1979 and shook a poland, called for -- shook up poland, called for the independence of poland. so the issue of this edict "use all possibilities available to the soviet union to prevent the new course of policies initiated by the polish pope." use all possibilities available to the soviet union. if necessary, with additional measures beyond this information and discredit ancient. kohler put it this way. in layman's terms, this was unordered for sassy nation -- four assassination -- for assassination. kohler was given this by the
italian secret service agency. he said the translated text that he got from a high-ranking italian official, the very bottom of it said this -- document found in moscow points the plan for the physical elimination of jp ii. and it may indeed have. at some point, somebody called for the physical elimination of jp ii. is just a matter of when and whether the documentation existed, in paper or whatever. back to ronald reagan, he wants to reach out to them, the vatican and the pontiff, and make them an ally. he's got to get elected first, right? that occurred november 4, 1980. he defended -- he defeated jimmy carter. he won 44 out of 50 states in that election. can you imagine that?
this is unbelievable. for the record, when reagan was reelected in 1984, he won 49 at a 50 states. which state did he not win? minnesota. exactly. minnesota. ronald reagan in 1984, the electoral college was 525-13. reagan twice won california, new york, new jersey, my own state of pennsylvania, and even massachusetts. it's not going to happen again. it's hard to imagine it even happened twice. walesa, with reporters in poland, he told them i envisioned what would happened in your presidential election. reagan will settle things. you wait and see. ronald reagan will make things
better. reagan was inaugurated january 20th, 1980 1 p.m. he was one invite chief justice -- inaugurated january 20, 1981. he was sworn in by chief justice warren. he carried his mother's bible. she made this president. the bible is open to the old testament, second chronicle 7:14, which says if my people turn from their wicked ways, i will hear the -- i will heal their land. she had written a wonderful verse for the healing of a nation.
and reagan, then and there, pledged his country to what he called an area of national renewal. he wanted to change america and he wanted to change the world. he wanted to win the cold war. and people in this room who lived through it, nobody thought it was possible at the time, right? reagan did. jump on the second maybe did. that's about it. nobody else did.
in the week after reagan's inauguration, the soviets started blasting reagan and john paul ii. they even called them out. this is amazing language. the kind of language and soviet publications was so incendiary and so over-the-top and so vitriolic, there's nothing like it anywhere. reading this stuff hurts your stomach, it's so bad. but they denounced john paul ii, the soviet press. this piece was february 1981. a malicious, lowly, perfidious and backward toady of american militarists. this is the guy they're talking about. this is a guy who's now a saint in the catholic church. seeking to undermine time in his him with his overseas accomplices and his new boss in the white house. right? his new boss in the white house. moscow, if only these two guys could be dead, right? to quote joseph stalin, death solves all problems. no man, no problem, right? march 30, 1981, 2:25 p.m., ronald reagan spoke to the afl-cio at the washington hilton.
is just a few weeks into his presidency. -- he is just a few weeks into his presidency. the press is outside. they yell out to him. he lists his arm as if to deflect questions. john hinckley is waiting outside. hinckley is not part of any international conspiracy. he was just trying to get the attention of jodie foster. that was it. he had a crush on duty foster and he was tried to get her attention. he pulls out a pistol, using .22 devastator bullets, which explode on impact. reagan was shot underneath the arm. jerry parr, the secret service agent, thrusts reagan and the limousine and lands on top of him and orders the driver to take off. and reagan says, jerry, get off of me. i think you broke one of my ribs. he sees frothy bubbles from reagan's lips. he ordered the driver to go to
george washington university hospital. that split decision probably saved his life. it was reported by some news organizations that reagan wasn't even hit, and if he was head, he wasn't badly wounded pair nancy reagan did not know what she was going to see when she got a hospital. he might just be fine when she gets there. ronald reagan got out of the car. he wants to walk in. fell down. went right down. went inside, immediately started working on him. before he went out, ronald reagan would later write to this -- i focused on the tile ceiling and i prayed. this is no reagan -- this is nel reagan and him. i realized i couldn't ask got for help while having hatred for the mixed up young man who shot me. isn't that the lost sheep?
i began to pray for his soul, that he would find his way back into the fold. john paul ii would forgive his assassin, too. in prison, he would meet with him. when john a -- when ronald reagan died, washington post published a letter to the editor. it was john hinckley psychiatrist, his doctor, who said ronald reagan contacted me in the 1980's and asked if he could meet with john higley to forgive him. i told him i don't know if that would be good for hinckley. and reagan said, doc, if it isn't good for the patient, i won't do it. if we can do it, i will. so reagan never met with him. louis evans, the pastor at the presbyterian church over here, he talked to ronald reagan about this and reagan told him -- reagan had the sense that, if he didn't forgive his assassin, his
would-be assassin, he was going to die. got was going to take his life. reagan felt his survival was contingent upon his forgiveness, that that was something he needed to do. reagan would survive and go on to telling number of people, his son michael, his daughter marine, the reverend louis evans, billy graham, he would tell this to mother teresa, to cardinal cooke in new york, that he believed he was spared by godfrey special purpose. and as edmund morris put it, he believed that this -- reagan wrote this in his diary -- whatever happens now, i om i like the got and i will try to serve him in every way i can. morse said that mr. reagan it was time to take on that institutional murder of also liberty is known as soviet communism. -- institutional murderer of all liberties known as soviet communism.
seven accomplices were named, conceived by the bulgarian secret service. he got to st. peter's square early that morning, probably first arrived around 9:00 a.m., waited all day. on the other side of st. peter's square, one of his accomplices is waiting with a panic bomb that he is going to detonate as soon as the first shoots. that way the bomb will the verge attention from the shooting on the other side. he is concealing a .9 millimeter semiautomatic browning.
about 5:00, 5:15 p.m., john paul ii comes riding up in the white fiat pope mobile, kissing babies, say hi to people. comes within a few yards, if you feed of him and goes right past the noblest can see peter's square, where peter, considered the first peter by the roman catholic church, had been martyred almost 2000 years ago, right there in that spot. he's driving by, gets up to the spot, the pistol in the air, fired four times, hit the pope twice, one in the hand, one in the abdomen. he immediately sink's down into the arms of two of his aides. are you hit? and the pope said in the stomach. does it hurt? it does. the pope was immediately rushed to the hospital. another snap decision by an ambulance driver and a doctor who just happened to be in the area, who drove the wrong way down a two way street in rome -- which happens all the time in rome, if any of you have been to italy -- they stop by a
policeman with issa machine gun who johnson to the ambulance -- with a submachine gun who jumps into the ambulance. he, like reagan, was in the process of bleeding to death. they asked the father to give the anointment of the sick. they thought he could go. he is greeted by the hospital's very best surgeons. george -- reagan got to george washington hospital and there happened to be a monthly meeting of the department heads. the top surgeon walks in. the elevators are always jampacked at the hospital, but this time, he walked in. every single elevator door was open. he said open by some unknown genius. he gets in, went straight to the ninth floor, the nurses start to
change his clothes. he puts on his scrubs, gets ready, his patient's blood pressure drops to 70. john paul ii underwent five and a half hours of surgery. the first blood transfusion wouldn't take. the doctors and nurses had to donate some of their old blood. -- their own blood. he needed six pints of blood. reagan needed eight pints of blood. the bullet missed john paul ii's main abdominal artery by centimeters. the bullet that went in reagan missed his main artery in his heart by centimeters. so mere centimeters either way and they are both dead. as for the shooter, he tried to flee, but he was seized by a nun, sister leticia from the lombardi region of rome, who grabbed him, held him down, and reprimanded him, and said why did you do it! [laughter] i can tell some of you went to
catholic school. you get the image of the nun in your head. do know exactly what she looks like. and he said, not me, not me. she said yes, you, it was you. and she held him down, along with a couple of other people. he did not realize it, but the nun was saving his life. when he was to get in the back of the truck that was concealed like a household goods company, his communist friends were going to put a bullet in him. they were not going to let him walk away from this. ronald reagan's reaction to this -- he wrote in his diary entry that may 13, 1981, word brought to us of the shooting of the pope.
called cardinal cooke and cardinal kroll, send message to vatican, and prayed. nsa national security advisor said reagan asked me every day for weeks thereafter about the pontiff's recovery. the president's affection for the pope was magnified greatly by the shooting. john paul ii had sent a cable to the present when reagan was shot and said i'm praying for you. and now reagan sent a cable to the vatican saying i'm praying for you. it established the world's most exclusive national prayer society. if anyone was concerned about a french -- a kinship between the pope and the president, now they had to really worry about it. few people know with precision can share the dubious distinction that you share.
reagan was telling him i feel your pain. i get it. i get it. reagan's first public speech after the shooting of john paul ii, may 17, 1981, amazing. where would it be but notre dame? john paul ii, marian pope, his papal motto was totally yours, mary. he dedicated his papacy to mary. mary is as revered in poland come in krakow. reagan's speech was named "for our lady." reagan made a statement, wish john pope the second -- john paul ii well. he said the holy father had warned of certain economic theories that used the rhetoric of class struggle to justify its justice. he mentioned this after sending his greetings to john paul ii. in the name of another ledge adjusters, the neighbors sometimes destroyed, killed -- destroy it, killed.
looking back, if reagan was here, telegraphing what he was thinking about who might have been involved? more on that later. bill casey at the cia was thinking the same. either way, i commend ellen smith, the chairman of the board here at the institute of world politics, the son of bill casey, the son-in-law of bill casey. they were of huge help to me in giving me a couple of critical insights on this book. bill casey, on the morning of may 14, 1981, the day after the pope was shot, called a meeting of the national foreign intelligence board in washington. he wanted to know what was
moscow up to on this day after the pope was shot? moscow's reaction come after suddenly blasting the pope as this perfidious backward to mow lying of his new boss in the white house, suddenly very quiet, all of a sudden. on may 14, they released a two-sentence statement. pope john paul ii remains in stable condition after undergoing five hours of surgery. the pope was hit by three of the four bullets that the terrorists fired. that's it. he wan't hit by three. he was hit by two. moscow was a little overly hopeful here. i may 15 came -- on may 15 came the first response. the terrorists, who yesterday tried to kill john paul ii, is a turkish citizen. in the past, he has had close ties with turkey's new fascist nationalist movement party. he was referred to as a new
fascist twice, terrorist three times, murder and killer once, and seven times as turkey, turkish, turkish citizen. turk, turk, turk. they don't -- they want this guy to be seen as a turkish -- that was a red flag. pun intended, as far as i'm concerned. moscow was quiet for four to six months. then "the guardian" published an article in september 1981 suggesting the possibility that moscow may have been involved with this. all of a sudden, -- exploded. whatever they published, the stuff was cleared. this was always cleared through the kremlin. blasted the vile concoction and its ravings.
here is the typical language they use in soviet publications. nationally, it never occurred to anyone to portray this piece of scum as a communist agent. he was said to be the result of a plot, organized by countries of the eastern bloc. [laughter] absurd, this the new and tie soviet concoction is as groundless as others, they said. i could have written 600 pages just quoting moscow going off the hinges from that point on, lashing out at anybody who dared to suggest they might have been involved. claire sterling, who did an amazing work on all this in the early 1980's, just slamming, illustrating anybody who suggested this. lie after lie after lie. in short order, moscow, the kremlin, would be saying that
the cia ordered the hit on the pope. anything. why not? say it loud enough, who knows, maybe some people pick it up. june 7, 1982, finally, reagan and john paul ii met for the first time. reagan had wanted to get together since june 1929. they had been trying to get together. reagan reached out to him in figure 1981, -- since june 1979. they had been trying to get together. reagan reached out to him in february 1981. there is no transcript available of this. so we only know what reagan told clarke and some others. i'm told that there were vatican notetakers for a lot of these meetings.
reagan and john paul ii would be five times between 1982 and 1990, 1-on-one. what we know is what others told us. the vatican records are sealed for 75 years. so vatican records on a 1982 meeting will be released on 2057. i'll be 90. if i'm alive at that point, i will get my cane and hobble into the vatican and see what i can see. but they talked about the miraculous fact that they had both survived, and that they believed god had spared their lives for a special purpose, which they believed was to take down and defeat soviet communism.
that's what they said to one another. reagan told him, the pope, look how they evil forces were put in our way and how providence intervened. clarke said this was a wonderful and transformative day. they gave the president and the pope the opportunity to develop a personal relationship from then on. the meeting led to real action. they translated their lofty, divine mission into a practical mission to sustain the solidarity movement as the wage that could split the communist empire. imagine this non-polish president, protestant president, and he says to this polish pope, hope remains in poland. we come a together, can keep it alive. one of the cardinal's -- week, together, can keep it alive. one of the cardinals put it this
way. what he called the holy alliance. this is an amazing statement. nobody believed the collapse of communism would happen this faster in this timetable. but in their first meeting together, the holy father and the president committed themselves and the institutions of the church and america to such a goal. imagine that. and from that day, the focus was to bring it about. the focus was to bring it about. in poland, it would be the crack in the soviet bloc. the whole block would split from top to bottom. the solidarity movement could be the dagger to the heart of the soviet empire. that's how they saw it. . pretty remarkable. they would go on to meet five times after that. 1982, 1984, june 1987, september 1987. the cover of my book -- i love the picture -- i said, please to the editor, put that picture on the cover of the book. it's from miami in september 1987. that's nancy reagan's favorite picture of the two as well. reagan is saying something very earnestly and john paul ii is
listening carefully. they had huge admiration for one another. at the same time, reagan, not being catholic, had great admiration for john paul ii, who he called a great man. at the same time, he was not in awe of the father like a catholic might be. they were somewhat more like equals. reagan is speaking earnestly and the pope is listening to him, that picture really captures that. reagan also new catholicism, because his father was catholic. his brother was a daily communicant in the catholic church. his sister-in-law, who just died a few years ago, lived to be over a hundred, a devout catholic. he had catholic speechwriters. dick allen was catholic. al haig was catholic. a la haig's brother was a
catholic priest. ronald reagan's ex-wife, jane wyman -- you guys don't know this -- jane wyman, the movie star, died a third order dominican nun. she was buried in the habit. she was so do about that come in her contract for "falcon crest" in the 1980's, she added the stipulation that a priest be on set with her every day to serve her communion. that's how devout she became. reagan and john paul ii, they were in constant communication. i tried to count the letters, the cables, the diplomatic pouches, the liaison, the contacts -- there were so many of them. the documents are still redacted. they don't make any sense, there are so many of them. i don't understand why so many of them are still redacted. martin and police anderson counted by the nick -- by the end of 1981 a dozen or so direct letters that had already been exchanged between them, before 1981 was even over.
there was so much communication. december 29, 1981 memo between bill clark and nancy at the white house where they were worried that there was too much communication. are we overloading the vatican circuits, they said. clarke said, no, we need to keep this going. we need to constantly talk. i have here, which you cannot see, this is a february 1984 urgent cable, 11:30 at night, from john paul ii in rome to ronald reagan. he's been trying to reach the president all day by phone. really important. and then it says, i'm looking at this in the reagan library. the next page, begin message from holy father -- all blacked
out. next page, all blacked out. what is it? but were they talking about? no idea. going to have to wait a while. the main contact liaison between the two, bill casey, bill clarke, and peel lobby. bill clarke of the national security council, bill casey of the cia, and the apostolic knows you to washington. -- apostolic nunzio to washington. they thought there was a possibility their phone conversations would be listened to. clarke would say, bill, i think we need to get some cappuccino. that would mean that it was time to go to the archbishop's residence. at the time, he made a great cappuccino and you could not get a cappuccino on every corner washington like today. they met so much, clarke said that he met with laggi weekly, sometimes more than a week.
and they kept no notes. i looked at all of clarke's stuff -- no notes. do you have even one napkin with notes on it? he said sometimes i scribbled things on a napkin, but i threw it away. this was too important. i wasn't writing memoirs. i wasn't try to tell the press anything. we wanted to take down an evil empire. this was a divine calling. this transcended politics. he didn't care about what "the new york times" thought. no notes, period. me, casey and laggi, nobody else. reagan knows. i will brief reagan. i've got to move along here. the big blockbuster of my book, the biggest issue in it, which
convinced me that i had to write this, that i had to pursue this project, is the book's longest chapter. i was told that the cia, under casey's direction, a truly supersecret, extraordinary investigation outside of the institutional cia and the cia establishment terry's this is -- establishmentarians. there was a dogfight in the cia. there were some in the cia who thought that there is no way the soviets whatever put a bullet in the pope, never do something like that, especially because some people in the cia were even arguing -- bob gates writes about this -- some people argued that the soviets saw the pope as offering stability in the communist empire, which i think is insane that anybody would think that. but some people believed that. so this was a dogfight in the
agency. the intelligence -- the italians were invest getting the shooting. people wanted to know if we were investigating the shooting. there were three or four occasions when reagan was asked in press conferences -- are you looking into this? reagan was a the italians are looking into this. pushing and pushing a pushing, bill casey, you guys need to look into this. so bill casey set up an internal investigation. i was told it was done by two young women who did dynamite research, ran circles around the establishment with the research they did, and they concluded in an internal report that to this day has not been fully released, hasn't been declassified, april, -- april-may 1985, they concluded, the small group concluded that the soviets ordered a hit on the pope, and
specifically ordered -- it was ordered and organized by the soviet giu, military intelligence, with the a go-ahead, approval, and the blessing of yuri andropov at the kgb. that's what they learned. kc briefed reagan on this one-on-one in the oval office. i went back through all of the daily records and scheduled for april and may 1985. there was one day that he and casey met one-on-one. doug brinkley in the reagan diaries says thousands of pages in the reagan diary, the federal government, they cleared almost all of the pages. they all got through, except maybe a dozen pages.
one of the pages that isn't cleared is the casey meeting with reagan. that's the moment when casey briefed reagan and told him what happened. i was told that the conversation, casey explained and he was holding the document and reagan said can i see that? and casey said, yeah, you can see it. you're the president. reagan looked at it and said what are we going to do about this? casey briefed john paul ii on it, who said i'm not surprised. he suspected the soviets as early as july 18, 1981, maybe even earlier, before he passed out. in his final words to the nurse in the hospital, john paul ii said to her, how could they do it? how could they do it? they? it was one shooter. who is he thinking about with the they? he wasn't surprised.
some of the guys in the cia said the soviets would never. casey and clarke knew, they kill them if they could. they had no trouble believing that the kremlin would want to put a bullet in the pope. the character assassination of pius the 12th. they wanted this guy gone. they realized he was a mortal threat to their empire. here is where reagan and the kremlin agreed. they both agreed the john paul ii was a grave threat to the soviet empire, which is why reagan said i need to reach out to him and make him an ally to take down the empire, which is why the kremlin said he's got to go. he has to be eliminated. john paul ii's reaction to this, i was told by a number of sources, ambassador thomas melody said this to a national catholic reporter when jump on
the second i -- when john paul ii died. he asked the father about releasing all details about any investigation of the shooting and john paul ii said no, let it go. by 1989, maccallum overture was visiting the vatican -- mikael gorbachev was visiting the vatican. why did he go to russia? it was an gorbachev's fault. the russian orthodox church did not want john paul the second to come to russia. but things are over and things are getting better.
a cia station chief wrote a book about this in the early 1980's, as did clay sterling. he said john paul ii said, if i come out publicly and say that the soviets did this, they will launch a disinformation campaign. he didn't want world war iii to be started over him. what was done was done. hugh survived -- he survived. this is a guy who is an eternal window of a 2000-your church. he's thinking eternity. he doesn't care whether or not this gets reported by open the washington post" in 1985. 1989, the collapse of communism. ronald reagan no longer president. spring of 1989, he was meeting at a century city office with four poles. one had brought in members of the polish solidarity movement. they were getting ready for the first free and fair elections in the communist bloc, which should
have happened at yalta. this is a betrayal that had gone on for 44 years at that point. these were admirers of ronald reagan. one of the members gave reagan a special handcarved madonna, that he had carved in prison. reagan said thank you, i will take this into my home. they asked reagan, can you give us any campaign advice, this guy who has had enormous political success in his lifetime. and reagan told them this, of all things. listen to your conscience. that's where the holy spirit speaks to you. which is an odd sentiment for political advice, is it not? then he turned and pointed to a picture of john paul ii on his wall. and reagan said, he's my best friend. he's my best friend. i was told this over 10 years ago.
believe me, i wrote that one down. he said he's my best friend. i quote nancy reagan on this, who used similar language as well, and a number of people in the book. now to be sure, there some genial overstatement in that phrase. they weren't best friends come ok come in the sense of calling one another up and asking about the grandkids -- ok, in the sense of calling one another up and asking about the grandkids were fishing or the ballgame. i think what reagan meant was, in this, what he saw as a historical, spiritual calling, to defeat the great evil of the 20th century, that went from 1917 to 1989, that pharrell listed the level of -- that far out leveled the level of naziism. they had the election in poland and the communists did not win any single seat. a businessman won who was not a solidarity but was not a
communist and that was the breach in the berlin wall. if you want to know what led to the region the berlin wall, it was the elections in poland in 1989. a couple more things and i will wrap this up. reagan and john paul ii would meet once more at the vatican, september 1990. no one reported on this. no one reported on the june 1987 meeting. i saw a three-sentence blurb on "usa today." i asked a nancy reagan about it. she said it was a warm and wonderful meeting. they did discuss all of these people and places with the pope, meaning the collapse of communism. but she couldn't recollect
specific details, other than saying we just loved him. ronnie and i loved him. and it was a warm and wonderful meeting. it would turn out to be the last meeting together. 21st century, ronald reagan slowly drifted away from alzheimer's disease. george libel, the great iarc firm jump on the second said that john paul ii would ask him often -- the great biographer of john paul ii said the john paul ii would ask him often about him. he said that he often would not remember that he was president. john paul ii said he was hurt by that. john paul ii was fading of parkinson's disease. bill used to say to me, you know, paul, the good lord gave perkinson's disease to saints, like john paul ii and my father. and now he's gotten around to giving it to sinners like me. that's what clarke said. so for reagan, the body was strong in the mind was gone. for john paul ii, the mind was strong, the body was gone.