Vocino, Michael [faculty advisor, University Libraries]
Soares, John [faculty advisor, Chaplian - Catholic Center]
Historians and non-scholars alike have long regarded the work of President Reagan and Pope John Paul II to be a tremendous force in helping to end the Cold War. In 1992, Time Magazine cited the relationship as a “Holy Alliance”, a political partnering of two men who, after surviving separate assassination attempts merely six weeks apart, saw their role in global politics as a divine signal to promote the free world and take down communism internationally. By the time the President and the Pope first met at the Vatican in 1982, the two were privately discussing Cold War politics. They agreed that communism was a threat to human rights and global stability, and that it should be confronted. John Paul II and Reagan were clearly aligned in their abhorrence for communism, but they had differing primary goals; the Pope strived to introduce democracy to his native Poland, and Reagan was occupied with the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Thus, the two world leaders were able to team up not out of necessity, but out of mutual benefit. It was an alliance of convenience, with two governing organizations able to use one another’s global power and influences to promote their own political goals. Indeed, the President and the Pope shared Cold War information, but never intimately planned or initiated policy to jointly bring about democratic reform throughout the globe. My research project concentrates on the Washington-Vatican relationship during the Reagan years and how the partnership helped defeat communism, with particular attention paid to the Pope’s native Poland. I also explore the role the alliance has formed in the years since Reagan left office, presenting ideas that may counter what many people have assumed about the relationship between President Reagan and Pope John Paul II.