Action Alert!

A date to remember

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Oct 16, 2008

 Hard to believe, isn't it, that on this date in 1978 most Catholic Americans-- no, make that virtually all of us-- woke up in the morning completely unfamiliar with the name "Wojtyla." We had barely learned the name "Luciani," and fully expected to hear another Italian surname announced when the new Pontiff was elected. 

We also expected the Berlin Wall to stay in place, and the Soviet Union to remain a world power for decades. We were wrong about that, too.

Oddly enough, the leaders of the Communist empire knew the name "Wojtyla" quite well. When the new Pontiff appeared smiling from the loggia of St. Peter's, and said, "Be not afraid," they knew he wasn't talking to them.  


Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

There are no comments yet for this item.