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Article 5/14/17

Dear Friends,

A new book is being published called, “A Pope and President: John Paull II, Ronald Reagan, and the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century.”  Written by Dr. Paul Kengor, it chronicles in detail the friendship of John Paul II and President Reagan and how they worked together to battle Soviet Communism.  Dr. Kengor, himself, is highly regarded for his scholarly work on Communism and the American presidency during the Cold War.

The book relates the great interest Mr. Reagan had in Fatima and Medjugorje.  He goes on to write about the many connections to Catholicism that surrounded the President.  Dr. Kengor states, “Also, I must add that Reagan had immense respect not only for John Paul II but the Roman Catholic Church.  He was surrounded by Catholics among his closest staff:  Bill Clark, Bill Casey, Al Haig, Dick Allen, speechwriters like Peggy Noonan, Tony Dolan, Peter Robinson, and many more.  In his personal life, his father was a lifelong Catholic, though some claim he was an apathetic Catholic (I’m not so sure about that).  His brother Neil, became very devout, and, along with Neil’s wife, Bess, was a daily communicant.  Reagan’s ex-wife, Jane Wyman, came into the Church on the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1954, along with their children, Maureen and Michael.  Jane Wyman was converted by Loretta Young and Fulton Sheen.  Jane Wyman became so devout that in the 1980s she had a stipulation into her contract for the TV show “Falcon Crest” that a priest be on set every day to give her the Eucharist.  Jane Wyman actually became a Third Order Dominican nun, buried in the habit…Ronald Reagan was very pro-Catholic.  Robert Reilly, who served as President Reagan’s liaison to the Catholic community, quipped to me, ‘We considered Reagan an honorary Catholic.’  Reilly told me that Neil Reagan, when once asked whether there was anything else he could wish for his brother – given he had been a movie and TV star, governor, and president – responded, ‘Yes, I wish he would become a Catholic.’”

He goes on to say, “Ronald Reagan saw Pope John Paul II as his partner, as his “best friend” – as Reagan would (quite remarkably) put it.  Yes, Reagan actually said that.  In the book, I have the time, the place, the context, the witnesses.  And Nancy Reagan said equally strong things about her Ronnie’s “closest friend.”

The book takes in a lot about Fatima and Sister Lucia.  This is a good read for the 100th anniversary of the Lady of Fatima.  Sometimes we don’t realize the momentous times we have lived through and the great figures that lived in our time and changed the world!

Fr Al