Reading the Daily Telegraph yesterday, I came across an extraordinary story. The headline says it all:
Mikhail Gorbachev admits he is a 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.
Read the full story at the paper’s website here. What can one say about this? To be sure, I do not know which is more surprising – that Gorbachev is a Christian or that he has a particular devotion to St Francis of Assisi. One would expect a Russian to be devoted to one of the tougher saints, let’s say, the likes of Ignatius of Loyola or Ambrose!
Having said that, I am very surprised that Gorbachev has anything to do with specifically Catholic Saints at all. It is rare that I hear of any positive interaction between the Catholic Church and Russian Orthodox, to which the last leader of the Soviet Union belongs. Maybe, just maybe, Gorbachev could be a positive influence here. At any rate, I am sure his prayers will be.