Remembering Ambassador Richard T. Davies
The Wyoming-born diplomat Ambassador Richard T. Davies was a good friend of Pope John Paul II. They were both 84 years old when they died. The Pope was born on May 18, 1920. Ambassador Davies was born ten days later on May 28, 1920. The two friends died within a day of each other. The Pope died on April 2, 2005 and Ambassador Davies followed his friend on April 3, 2005.
The "Polish Pope" gave his support to the independent trade union Solidarity and has been credited with helping end communism; but perhaps he had a little bit of help from Ambassador Davies, who worked tirelessly for human and religious rights in communist-dominated areas.
Solidarity was founded in Gdańsk in September 1980 at the Lenin Shipyards, where Lech Wałęsa and others formed a broad anti-Soviet social movement ranging from people associated with the Catholic Church to members of the anti-Soviet Left. Solidarity advocated non-violence in its members' activities....
The Roman Catholic Church, under the leadership of Pope John Paul II, was a very powerful supporter of the union and was greatly responsible for its success. Lech Wałęsa, who himself publicly displayed Catholic piety, confirmed the Pope's influence, saying: The Holy Father, through his meetings, demonstrated how numerous we were. He told us not to be afraid.
In addition, the priest Jerzy Popiełuszko, who regularly gave sermons to the striking workers, was eventually killed by the Communist regime for his association with Solidarity.
Father Popiełuszko, who was only 37 years old when he was murdered, has been recognized as a martyr by the Catholic Church, and was beatified in Warsaw on June 6, 2010 in Warsaw's Piłsudski Square. Beatification is a step on the road to sainthood. During his life, Radio Free Europe broadcast Father Popiełuszko's sermons which became famous throughout Poland for their uncompromising stance against the communist regime.
Ambassador Davies' papers are at the Hoover Institution, which also has a picture of Ambassador Richard T. Davies with Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, the future John Paul II, Cracow, 1974.