Abstract

An examination of the views of Poland’s Communist regime on the June 1979 visit of Pope John Paul II to his native land, based on reports from government (Office of Confessional Affairs), party (Administrative Division of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers Party), and security (Interior Ministry) analysts, as well as the official press. On the one hand, the analysts presented evidence and arguments that depicted the papal visit as a success for Communist Poland, highlighting any words or actions by John Paul that purportedly served its interests. This was reflected in the government’s public position on the visit. On the other hand, behind-the-scenes, analysts duly noted those words, deeds, and omissions by the Pope that the Communist authorities found disturbing. Overall, the article shows a regime eager to find positive things to say about the papal visit, but also cognizant that the Pope is doing much that runs against its interests. It also shows a Pope able to give his Communist hosts enough positive material so they can justify his visit in the face of skepticism from the Soviet Union and others, while at the same time adeptly presenting challenges to the regime on a number of fronts.

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