Today is the first anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II. The event will be commemorated with large gatherings in Poland and in Rome. John Paul II was a great man and it is right that we should remember him. Many of my friends on the left will disagree, pointing out to the late Pope's opposition to the socialist governments in Eastern Europe in the 1980s and the Vatican's support for an independent Croatia in the early 1990s. But from a left perspective, there is nevertheless a lot to admire about Pope John Paul II. In Riga, in 1993 he condemned 'the international imperialism of money' and spoke of Marxism's 'kernel of truth'.
He also consistently spoke out for the world's poor and against war.
In an article of 2003 (url below) I wrote; 'Far from being an enemy, the Catholic Church is an ally of all who oppose the tyranny of neo-liberal globalisation and the cult of materialism it engenders. It is the ally of those who oppose war. The Vatican stands for peace now, as resolutely as it did in the last Gulf War and in 1999 over Yugoslavia'.
The biggest mistake of the socialist regimes in Eastern Europe was not building an alliance with the Church. I know there were valid historical reasons for socialist antipathy to organised religion- but if an arrangement could have been reached, a much more widespread popular support for socialism could have been achieved.
As it was the forces of globalisation and money power were able to use the Church as a 'trojan horse'- to
help them destroy socialism in Eastern Europe. It's time for the left to forget its old differences and join up with the Church in opposition to 'international imperialism of money' and the war-lobby.