The Corner

Gorbachev at the Tomb of St. Francis

Whenever Ronald Reagan would mention his suspicion that Mikhail Gorbachev was a secret believer, everyone on the White House staff would scoff, thinking the president naive. When I had the opportunity to speak to Gorbachev a couple of years ago, however, I found myself concluding that Reagan had been onto something after all. Why, I asked, had Gorbachev refrained from putting down the revolution of 1989, just as Khrushchev had put down the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and Brezhnev had put down the Prague Spring of 1968? “Because of something I shared with Ronald Reagan,” Gorbachev replied. “Christian morality.”

Now the last leader of the Soviet Union has spent half an hour on his knees at the tomb of St. Francis. From the London Telegraph:

Mikhail Gorbachev…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.His arrival in Assisi was described as “spiritual perestroika” by La Stampa, the Italian newspaper.

“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….”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.

“We deem it the central revelation of Western experience,” William F. Buckley, Jr. wrote in 1960, “that man cannot ineradicably stain himself, for the wells of regeneration are infinitely deep.”

Peter Robinson — Peter M. Robinson is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

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