Newt and Callista Gingrich are hosting a new film, coming in January, that shows the impact of the visit of Pope John Paul II to Poland.
Nine Days that Changed the World is a story of human liberation. It reveals how Pope John Paul IIs historic visit helped the Poles not only find their courage, but also reclaim their culture. This film presents the Popes message -- that after the lies of Nazism and Communism, authentic human freedom is only possible through a true understanding of our humanity.
WASHINGTON (Catholic Online) - The visit of Pope John Paul II to his native Poland June 2-10, 1979 did more than just encourage a nation. It was the beginning point for the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of Communism's grip on Eastern Europe, and a new Europe.
Thirty years later the full impact of this historic papal journey is the subject of a new film, "Nine Days that Changed the World." Produced by Citizens United, Gingrich Productions, and Peace River Company LLC, the documentary is hosted by Newt and Callista Gingrich.
Catholic Online had an opportunity to talk with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich about the film as well as what he envisions as its impact on audiences here in the United States and around the world.
Initial thoughts about a documentary on the Pope's visit to Poland began about five years ago when Callista Gingrich was part of a trip to Rome with the Choir of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Newt had been reading George Weigel's book, "Final Revolution: The Resistance Church and the Collapse of Communism." Through the book and conversations with Msgr. Walter Rossi, rector of the D.C. basilica, parallels between issues of Western Europe under Communism and increasing secularism in America began to crystallize.
The project really became clear during the filming of another documentary - "Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous with Destiny." As Gingrich said, "When doing that film we saw the important influence of John Paul II had on the people.
"Even in his famous 'Tear Down This Wall' speech, Reagan referred to the role of faith in the last part of the speech - the importance of faith."
"One-third of Poland saw the Pope during that visit," Gingrich went on to say. "He reminded them that their roots and their identity were Christian. They were a Catholic people."
Communist leaders pressured Poland to block the visit, but the persistence of the Vatican won out. As "Time" Magazine stated, "Returning to his homeland for the first time since he was chosen Pope last October, Karol Wojtyla, John Paul II, stirred an outpouring of trust and affection that no political leader in today's world could hope to inspire, let alone command."
The film's webpage put this historic visit in perspective.
"The Polish trade union movement languished for years prior to June of 1979, attracting only modest popular support. Sixteen months after John Paul II's nine day visit to Poland, and the 1980 Gdansk shipyard strike, the Solidarity movement became the first officially recognized free trade union in the Communist bloc, with over 10 million members.
"What transpired during these nine days that so moved a nation to begin to free itself of its Communist shackles? Why did millions of Poles, almost one third of the entire nation, come to see the Pope during his public appearances? What was the nature of the Communist system in Poland that made John Paul II's visit a liberating moment?
"Nine Days that Changed the World is a story of human liberation. It reveals how Pope John Paul II's historic visit helped the Poles not only find their courage, but also reclaim their culture. This film presents the Pope's message -- that after the lies of Nazism and Communism, authentic human freedom is only possible through a true understanding of our humanity."
While the trip was televised, authorities did not allow media to film the event. The Church, however, had planned ahead and purchased cameras they distributed to the people. Much of this archival footage was used in this new documentary.
"We got some terrific footage from the bishops," he said. "One of the most powerful scenes in the film shows a huge number of Polish crosses."
The former Speaker of the House likened the conditions in 1979 Poland, where the cross was being systematically eliminated by the government, to the contemporary attempts by the ACLU to remove this most important Christian symbol from public view, such as the one in the Mojave Desert.
"The very existence of the cross creates a problem. Groups who want it removed are threatened by the very existence of God."
When asked what the producers hope a viewer will take away from "Nine Days," Gingrich responded, "History introduces us to concepts we can relate to today. We want people to apply the insights of the film to themselves."
The film, scheduled for release in January, will be available in multi-lingual versions, including English and Polish.
Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online. He is a former Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church who laid aside that ministry to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May has proved to be the most dangerous and deadliest month Baltimore has witnessed in more than 50 years. There were more than two dozen shootings over the Memorial Day weekend alone; city police have never been busier. Community leaders hope the members will come ... continue reading
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
While it's "doable," few people in California are actually voicing any enthusiasm. Stricken by a crippling drought, water officials are going through some highly popular alternatives - and repurposing sewage water into drinking water is one of them. LOS ... continue reading
By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
As Gay rights movements continue to disrupt society and political life, poll reveals that gay and lesbians are not as common in the United States as previously perceived. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A new Gallup poll conducted in early May has revealed that ... continue reading
By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
World's oldest woman, Jeralean Talley has added another year to her life - the world declared she turned 116 last weekend. Talley and her family, friends, the Inkster mayor and Congressman Conyers, delivered a message from President Barack Obama, celebrating her ... continue reading
By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
How would you react if you unexpectedly and inexplicably found nine brains on the side of the road while on your early morning run? Like most people, you may find yourself shocked and completely clueless on the origins of the brains. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic ... continue reading
By Deacon Keith Fournier
I am always drawn to these words of Jesus on Memorial Day weekend, - No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. (John 15:13) Military service which leads to laying one's life down is certainly an expression of this kind of heroic ... continue reading
By Fr. Randy Sly
The work of our chaplains extends much farther than the post chapel. They labor on land, at sea and in the air. There are 1.4 million Catholics in the military; wherever they are stationed, the chaplain is there. These chaplains can be found bringing Jesus Christ to ... continue reading
By Jennifer Hartline
Thank you, to every man and woman who has fought and is currently fighting for our homeland. Thank you for doing everything within your power to make sure I and my children can sleep safely tonight. I love and appreciate you and I pray God's blessing on you ... continue reading
By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
About 9 miles of the Pacific ocean, across a popular spot on the California coast, was damaged after a pipeline leaked massive amounts of oil in the water earlier this week. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - According to officials, up to ... continue reading
By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
The fateful night of May 23, 2014, Antoine Cherchian managed to survive being shot by the virgin killer, Elliot Rodger, during his killing spree at UC Santa Barbara. While Cherchian sustained fatal injuries, along with six other students murdered, he is thankful for ... continue reading