Pope St. John Paul II and Mikhail Gorbachev meet on 1 December 1991 Pope St. John Paul II and Mikhail Gorbachev meet on 1 December 1991 

Pope expresses condolences upon death of Mikhail Gorbachev

Pope Francis sends his condolences to the family of Mikhail Gorbachev following the last president of the Soviet Union's death at the age of 91.

By Devin Watkins & Lisa Zengarini

Mikhail Gorbachev died at hospital in Moscow on Tuesday following a lengthy illness at the age of 91.

Pope Francis sent a telegram of condolences on Wednesday to the former Soviet statesman’s daughter, Ms. Irina Gorbachev.

The Pope expressed his “spiritual closeness” during this time of grief, and extended his “heartfelt condolences” to his family members and everyone who saw him as a valued statesman.

“As we gratefully remember his far-sighted commitment to concord and fraternity amongst peoples, as well as to the progress of his own country at a time of important changes, I raise prayers of suffrage, invoking eternal peace for his soul from the good and merciful God.”

Gorbachev’s legacy

The prominent former Soviet statesman and reformer helped lift the Iron Curtain, leading to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and chartered a new course in the relations with the Holy See, putting an end to decades of religious persecutions against the Catholic Church in the former USSR.

Mikhail Gorbachev was also a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and the last president of the Soviet Union before its dissolution in 1991.

A member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union since the early fifties, Mr. Gorbachev was its general secretary from 1985 to 1991 and Soviet president from 1990 to 1991.

During his seven-year tenure, he introduced key political and economic reforms to the USSR, the so-called “Peretrojka” (Reconstruction), and “Glasnost” (Transparency).

He played a crucial role in ending the Cold War, which earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 and widespread popularity in the West, but not at home, where some Russians have blamed him for the 1991 implosion of the Soviet Union and for the economic downfall that ensued in Russia in the 1990s.

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31 August 2022, 19:01