Is Poland’s Faith Helping It Emerge as the New China?
Poland seldom makes the list of economic giants. However, don’t write off Europe’s stubborn, stalwart, devout Poles.
When global leaders convened recently at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a big question on the agenda was which emerging nation will be the new China.
Will it be India – whose economy has exploded? Maybe one of the Pacific Rim nations, such as South Korea, Singapore or Taiwan?
What about Poland? Don’t scoff! The much-maligned, often-invaded nation which has repeatedly been wiped off the map, is back and stubbornly booming. One reason cited is Poland’s resilience and its deep Christian faith. These are people who refuse to be destroyed. The Nazis and Soviets certainly tried.
Back during the Cold War, neighboring Hungary failed to throw out its Russian invaders in 1956. Then Czechoslovakia failed again in 1968. But it was deeply religious Poland that succeeded. A devoutly Christian Polish electrician named Lech Walesa led a grassroots revolt of workers, Solidarity, that captured the imagination of the world.
Standing stern but unyielding beside him was a humble village priest named Karol Wojtyła – better known as Pope John Paul II.
In 1980, when Soviet tanks were ready to roll to crush the Solidarity rebellion, legend has it that John Paul sent a message to the Kremlin. If Russia invaded Poland, the Pope would jet to Warsaw and march out to meet them armed only with his papal staff – with the world’s Christians looking on.
Decades before, Russian dictator Joseph Stalin had scoffed at the power of faith, asking “How many divisions of troops does the Vatican have?”
But this time, Moscow blinked. The tanks did not roll. Poland threw off its Soviet chains.
Within weeks, so did an emboldened Hungary, then Czechoslovakia. When no troops responded, captive Bulgaria, Romania and finally Albania also defied the Russians – and Moscow was powerless to do anything about it.
Within months, the rebellion had spread to Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia and the many captive nations within the Soviet Union itself boldly pulled out – ending 40 years of tension that history calls the Cold War. What Ronald Reagan had declared “The Evil Empire” imploded on itself.