The meeting at the Vatican in 1963 sparked the thaw of the communist East

GIACOMO GALEAZZI

Rada Krusciova happily remarked: “You have the big knobby hands of a peasant, like my father.” At the end of the audience, John XXIII confided to the secretary Loris Capovilla: “It may be a disappointment or a mysterious logic of Providence that I am not allowed to break.”??

History has shown the importance of an unexpected gesture. The “diplomacy of personal relationships” of John XXIII sparked, in ‘63, the thaw with the Kremlin when the young Russian was received in the Vatican with her husband Alexei Adjubei. Yesterday Rada, daughter of former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, died in a Moscow hospital, aged 87. “To dissolve the rigidities of geopolitics, the smile of the good Pope was needed,” explains the Catholic historian Agostino Giovagnoli. “Ostpolitik relied on respect for the person, it considered communists as individuals and not as an expression of an ideology or a political movement.Affection and family ties calmed the winds of the Cold War.” From then on the diplomatic canvas of the Holy See approached Eastern Europe by carving out spaces of freedom after decades of fierce oppression of the Church. The Secretariat of State translated the “conquests of dialogue” into formal steps by applying the lessons of Angelo Roncalli: emphasize what unites, and not what divides. A historic turning point. Even the Osservatore Romano recalled the meeting between John XXIII through the reconstruction of Rada. “My husband and I were present at the presentation of the Balzan Prize, and, after the ceremony, we were escorted to the library where the Pope was already waiting for us.” Assisted by a translator, “we gave him a message from my father which expressed appreciation for his efforts for peace.” And “in response, the Pope gave us a letter in which he expressed his desire for the hope of future steps for a rapprochement.” With emotion, writes the Vatican newspaper, Rada recalled how John XXIII had also highlighted “the common peasant origins with my father,” and even the common dramatic experiences of the two world wars. Then “he wanted to hear, from my voice, the names of my three children: Alexei, Nikita, ‘like my grandfather’ said the Pope, and Ivan, ‘that is, John, like me.’”

 

Read the rest at the Source: Moscow: farewell to Rada, Khrushchev’s daughter who met John XXIII – La Stampa