Animadversions.

The weblog of Joshua Drescher

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Godless commies! Oh wait…

March 21st, 2008 · No Comments · Misc., Politics

Mikhail Gorbachev has come out of the closet - as a devout Christian.

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Communist leader of the Soviet Union, has acknowledged his Christian faith for the first time, paying a surprise visit to pray at the tomb of St Francis of Assisi.

Accompanied by his daughter Irina, Mr Gorbachev spent half an hour on his knees in silent prayer at the tomb.

“St Francis is, for me, the alter Christus, the other Christ,” said Mr Gorbachev. “His story fascinates me and has played a fundamental role in my life,” he added.

Mr Gorbachev’s surprise visit confirmed decades of rumours that, although he was forced to publicly pronounce himself an atheist, he was in fact a Christian, and casts a meeting with Pope John Paul II in 1989 in a new light.

Ronald Reagan, the former United States president, allegedly told his close aides on a number of occasions that he felt his opponent during the Cold War was a “closet believer”.

Mr Reagan held deep religious convictions himself. However, until now Mr Gorbachev has allowed himself to express only pantheistic views, saying in one interview “nature is my god”.

Even in his early days, St Francis helped the poor, once giving all of his money to a beggar. As well as spending time in the wilderness, he also nursed lepers and eventually became a priest.

“It was through St Francis that I arrived at the Church, so it was important that I came to visit his tomb,” said Mr Gorbachev.

“I feel very emotional to be here at such an important place not only for the Catholic faith, but for all humanity.”

He also asked the monks for theological books to help him understand St Francis’s life.

Father Miroslavo Anuskevic, who accompanied the former Soviet leader, said: “He was not recognised by any of the worshippers in the church, and silently meditated at the tomb for a while. He seemed a man deeply inspired by charity, and told me that he was involved in a project to help children with cancer.”

That final bit is truly striking. Regardless of what you think about organized religion, the idea of the former head of the athiestic Evil Empire praying in silent anonymity as other tourists and worshippers pass him by without even pausing is strangely moving.

If nothing else, it’s a more dignified departure from the tents of communism than his… *ahem* Pizza Hut commercial.

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