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The Alliance

Jane Little delves into the relationship between Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II and asks whether they collaborated to try to bring about the end of communism in Europe.

40 years ago shots rang out in two separate assassination attempts. Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II were shot just six weeks apart. The events would reverberate through history, binding together two of the most prominent figures in the downfall of the Soviet Union.

In June 1982 they met for the first time at the Vatican.

They talked for nearly an hour and nothing of what they discussed has ever been officially released.

Did this meeting mark the start of a secret collaboration to try to bring down the Soviet Union? Was it the beginning of a 'Holy Alliance' as it would later be claimed? Or was this simply a meeting of two world leaders who shared rare and painful common ground?

Both men are credited with prominent roles in the downfall of the Soviet Union and the extent to which they worked together is a continued source of fascination three decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

AUDIO CREDITS: :

CBS News: Reagan shooting

Everyman: Rivals for Paradise, 1997: Clips of interviews with Richard Allen and Vernon Walters

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library:
Ronald Reagan's Inaugural Address, January 20, 1981
President Reagan's First Press Conference in Room 450 of the OEOB, January 29, 1981
President Reagan’s and Pope John Paul II Remarks at their Arrival in Alaska on May 2, 1984
President Reagan's Remarks Following Discussions With Pope John Paul II on June 6, 1987
President Ronald Reagan's Speech at the Berlin Wall, June 12, 1987

MUSIC CREDITS:
Bruce Springteen and Jackson Browne: Promised Land from Anti-Nuclear Disarmament Rally, Central Park, NYC '82, Label Rox Vox.
Janusz Sikorski & George Borowski: Solidarity from Nobel

Producers: Ben Robinson and Jane Andrews
Reporter: Jane Little
Editor: Gail Champion

Available now

57 minutes