Skip to comments.Reagan’s Catholic Connections
Posted on 06/17/2004 5:50:18 PM PDT by Salvation
As we mark Ronald Reagan's passing this week, many questions are being asked about both the man and his faith. A devout Christian, Reagan was raised in the Disciples of Christ church. Yet, the Protestant president was open to other faiths, especially the Catholic faith.
Reagan's embrace of Catholics began at home, with his father, Jack Reagan. Jack was an apathetic Catholic who left the religious rearing of his two children to his wife, Nelle, a deeply Christian woman, and a Protestant.
Ironically, whereas Reagan was raised in a household marked by a distinct lack of Catholicism, later, as president, he was surrounded by serious Catholics with whom he tried to change the world. Specifically, Reagan's assault on atheistic Soviet communism was aided by a number of key Catholics, such as CIA Director William J. Casey, Speechwriter Tony Dolan, Secretary of State Al Haig, Ambassador Vernon Walters, and others. Two men, in particular, were pivotal: Reagan's first two national security advisers, Richard V. Allen and William P. Clark.
Four years before Reagan's presidency began, he met with Richard V. Allen in Los Angeles. Allen never forgot what Reagan told him that January 1977 afternoon: "Dick, my idea of American policy toward the Soviet Union is simple, and some would say simplistic. It is this: We win and they lose. What do you think of that?" That was the plan.
Reagan's most crucial adviser was the man who would replace Allen: William P. Clark. "Judge Clark," as he is known, implemented the Reagan administration's core policy directives crucial to confronting the Soviet empire. Clark is so devout in his faith that he has built a beautiful chapel on his property in Paso Robles, California, which he has opened to the community. This dedicated Catholic was Reagan's closest spiritual partner. The two men frequently prayed together.
However, Reagan's Cold War crusade was influenced by more than advisers and strategies. Reagan felt a sense of divine calling in his attack on Soviet communism. And that sense was reinforced in three meetings he had with prominent Catholics.
On March 30, 1981, Ronald Reagan almost died at the hands of a bullet fired by John Hinckley. The president was sure that God had spared him for a larger purpose. His feeling was affirmed on April 17, Good Friday, by New York's Terence Cardinal Cooke. "The hand of God was upon you," Cooke told Reagan. Reagan grew very serious. "I know," he replied, before confiding to the Cardinal: "I have decided that whatever time I have left is for Him."
Reagan's sense was reaffirmed in June 1981. He and Nancy Reagan and a few selected guests had a private meal with Mother Teresa. The servant to Calcutta's poor made an immediate impact upon the host. "Mr. President Reagan, do you know that we stayed up for two straight nights praying for you after you were shot?" she stated, pointing to a younger sister who was joining them. "We prayed very hard for you to live." Reagan thanked her. During the meal, she looked at Reagan said pointedly: "You have suffered the passion of the cross and have received grace. There is a purpose to this . This has happened to you at this time because your country and the world need you." Nancy Reagan dissolved into tears. Her husband was almost speechless.
A year later, in June 1982, Reagan had an even more powerful encounter with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican. The Polish Pontiff rightly perceived in Reagan a Protestant who was friendly to Catholicism, and who counted many Catholics among his intimates. Of course, John Paul II was overjoyed when Reagan became the first president to extend diplomatic recognition to the Vatican a move long resisted by previous presidents. Both men shared a hatred of communism.
The two talked alone in the Vatican Library. They discussed the assassination attempts against them the previous year only six weeks apart. Reagan said to the Pope: "Look how the evil forces were put in our way and how Providence intervened." Carl Bernstein and Marco Politi, in their biography of the Pope, dramatically conclude: "For the Pope, Reagan had been an instrument in the hands of God." The feeling was mutual. According to a number of sources, the two men confided in one another that they believed God had spared their lives for a special mission, which they came to see as the defeat of godless communism in the Soviet bloc.
Following the meeting, the two men and their teams agreed to aid the Solidarity movement in Poland, aiming to keep it alive as the potential wedge that could split the USSR's empire in Eastern Europe. Each man believed that Solidarity could be the splinter to crack the Iron Curtain and hasten the downfall of the communist bloc. They were right. And the rest is history.
Again, how ironic that this man who was raised by an apathetic Catholic father would be surrounded by the most devout Catholics throughout his presidency both inside and outside the White House. And it was those Catholics who were crucial to Reagan's life mission and enduring legacy: victory in the Cold War.
Paul Kengor. "Reagans Catholic Connections." Catholic Exchange (June 11, 2004).
This article reprinted with permission from Catholic Exchange.
Copyright © 2004 Catholic Exchange
I found this article fascinating.
Such intimate exchanges with Mother Teresa and with Pope John Paul II.
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**"For the Pope, Reagan had been
an instrument in the hands of God." The feeling was mutual. According to a number of sources, the two men confided in one another that they believed God had spared their lives for a special mission, which they came to see as the defeat of godless communism in the Soviet bloc.**
Speaking to Reagan:
**"You have suffered the passion of the cross and have received grace. There is a purpose to this . This has happened to you at this time because your country and the world need you."
~~Mother Teresa of Calcutta**
A thread claiming Reagan as the Calvinist he was got pulled, I trust this will be too
This just talks about the connections with Catholics that he had.
It says nothing about his religion. Other than he was a strong and staunch believer.
A few days ago, and article appeared in some publication that spoke of Reagan's Father, and his Catholicism. Apparently, Mr. Reagn refused to allow his children to view some racist documentary being promulagated at the time. That forced me to flash back to my Beloved Fr. Wrigley, who went into the local migrant camps and brought forth the children of these migrant workers and placed them in our classrooms at St. Joseph's, to be educated along with the rest of the children in the Community.
My Catholic Church taught me from the earliest age, that we were in fact all created equal in the eyes of the Lord. The Catholic Church is a mighty institution that needs its flock to remain faithful more than ever.
We did not think that it was harmful to point out his church and the doctrine he held either...but it got pulled anyway ????
What a wonderful thing to learn as a youngster!
**We did not think that it was harmful to point out his church and the doctrine he held either...but it got pulled anyway**
I never got to read that thread because it got pulled so quickly. Itchy fingers?
That surprises me. The press has always depicted his dad as the town drunk that would pas out on the stairs. Seems maybe he was not always as projected
Well, he may have been a drunk, but that doesn't preclude him from posessing some other decent qualities. The article I alluded to, I think was published (if that's the right word) last week on National Review Online. It surprised me to. Sorry can't tell you who the author was, 'cause I don't remember.
Thanks, BTW If you are from Albion NY we are "neighbors"
I am, where are you?
I have done volunteer Prison ministry at Albion . I know your area well. I have worshiped at St Joseph's (if memory serves me right??)
Hamburg's nice, or it was when I was there. East Aurora is my favorite burb in that area.
And on behalf of all my fellow Albionites, thanks for ministering to the prison population there. Womens facility is fairly new, but the men's facility is a fixed memory to me.
Hardly RN. The GRPL attempt at posthumous baptism was inappropriate, as the Moderator said.
This thread is entirely different.
I, too, am friendly to Catholics.
But...DO I get invited to visit the Pope.....NOoooooo!
And I have some really NEAT opinions!!!
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