You must read this column by Terrence Jeffrey. He reflects on June 12, 1987, when President Reagan stood at the Berlin Wall and told Gorbachev to tear it down and the Pope said Mass in Gdansk, Poland, hometown of the anti-communist solidarity trade union. Both men were fighting authoritarianism and both understood that only one thing was going to bring it down: Christian faith. Here is how Reagan concluded the famous "Tear down this wall" speech:
"Years ago," said Reagan, "before the East Germans began
rebuilding their churches, they erected a secular structure — the television
tower at Alexander Platz. Virtually ever since, the authorities have been
working to correct what they view as the tower’s one major flaw, treating the
glass sphere at the top with paints and chemicals of every kind. Yet even
today, when the sun strikes that sphere — that sphere that towers over all
Berlin — the light makes the sign of the cross. There in Berlin, like the city
itself, symbols of love, symbols of worship, cannot be suppressed.
"As I looked out a moment ago from the
Reichstag, the embodiment of German unity," said Reagan, "I noticed
words crudely spray-painted upon the wall — perhaps by a young Berliner —
‘This wall will fall. Beliefs will become reality.’ Yes, across Europe, this
wall will fall. For it cannot withstand faith."
And this is what the Pope wrote in a 1991 encyclical:
"If one does not acknowledge transcendent
truth, then the force of power takes over, and each person tends to make full
use of the means at his disposal in order to impose his own interests or his
own opinion, with no regard of the rights of others. People are then respected
only to the extent they can be exploited for selfish ends. Thus, the root of modern totalitarianism
is to be found in the denial of the transcendent dignity of the human person
who, as the visible image of the invisible God, is therefore by his very nature
the subject of rights which no one may violate — no individual, group, class,
nation or state."
The importance of these principles cannot be overstated. If faith in the form of an appeal to transcendent truth is denied, freedom falls and authoritarianism sweeps in. It is inevitable. Yet, as Jeffrey rightly points out, that is the trajectory we are on in America.