Reprinted from "Pope John Paul II: Reaching Out Across Borders" (2003) with permission of Reuters Prentice Hall.

Defeating Communism and ending the Cold War was a success with many fathers. All of them deserve credit for helping to achieve this peacefully. But it is impossible not to bow, as a dutiful son, before the paramount champion of the cause of freedom--Pope John Paul. I do so looking back at the miracle the pope wrought, which gave meaning and confidence to our efforts and changed the face of the world.

During his first pilgrimage to Poland, the Holy Father uttered two sentences of great significance: "Be not afraid" and "Renew the face of the earth." The pope showed us how numerous we were and showed us the...power we had if we joined together as one. We stopped being afraid and gathered together 10 million people in our trade union, Solidarity, which changed the face of this earth. Communism's real strength until then had been the weakness of society and our isolation as individuals. Apart from its brute force--the militia, army, and tanks--our social weakness and separateness were the main pillars of Communist strength. In 1979 and 1980 these pillars collapsed in Poland. And in their place stood the great hope contained in the word Solidarnosc (Solidarity).

They tried to take it away from us. That was the aim of martial law. But they did not succeed. Martial law failed to destroy our unity. Many of us had our faith severely tested, but they could not take away our hope.

There was a lot of pain at the loss of dear ones and much longing for those imprisoned....In the hardest moments we always had the words of the Holy Father in our minds. After his pilgrimage to his native land, we were fortified and strengthened.

The pope is with us now as he was then. Now it is a new world. He helps us face the problems of today with his whole personality and whole heart. In difficult times of destruction and violence, he calls for solidaridity among mankind, for building a civilization of love, for sympathy with those in need, for religious and cultural dialogue and for an awakening of the consciences of men. He is rescuing morality in a globalizing world. It gives us hope of building a real and lasting peace. Because, above all, hope is what we need.

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