It was freshman college zoology. They taught us how to enjoy the stupidity of the earthworm. The earthworm, really a beautiful organism, was placed in a maze that had a dead end. If the earthworm turned left, it would taste bitter water. If it turned right, it would taste sweet water. The earthworm could never ever remember which was which.

The lowly earthworm never seemed to learn. And neither do we. I’m trying to change. I resolved that, whenever a new power-figure appeared on the world stage, I would stand my ground and refuse to accept the unsolicited rantings about this new figure. I’d gone from pre-teen to senior citizen taken in by political gamesters, sometimes sinister and catastrophic.

I hope none of the Roman Catholic faithful will find this attitude disrespectful. I’ve just lived through too many deceptions. Example: When Yuri Andropov succeeded Leonid Brezhnev as ruler of the USSR all we heard was that Andropov loved American things, especially the novels of Jacqueline Susann (“Valley of the Dolls”). In other words, a good ol’ boy, right? Not quite.

I understand how people can be successful. I understand how people can be gullible. But I’ll never understand how people can be as successful and gullible at the same time as Americans. Fidel Castro swore he’d hold free elections in Cuba within one year of his 1959 takeover. And what was our reaction? “Bravo, Fidel! What a guy!” But it’s now 2013.

They told us Mao was merely an “agrarian reformer.” Sorry. Mao’s bitterest enemies, the Chinese Nationalists, were the real “agrarian reformers.” Their founder, Sun Yat-sen, put it into a position paper that would fit on a bumper sticker: namely, “Land to the Tiller.” Mao was a mass-murdering Communist thug. But enough Americans thought he was a land reformer!

Earlier they told us Stalin wanted nothing more than “to preserve the gains of the working class.” The typical American would demand more details from his used-car dealer than we demand from the liars who bend us to their agenda like silly-putty too silly for anything else.

On Day 1 of Pope Francis’ reign we heard conflicting narratives about the new pope. We heard that this new pope would be bad news for Fidel Castro and all the left-wing dictators.

We also heard that Pope Francis was a “pope of the people,” a minister to the poor, a pope who despised the gap between the super-rich and the super-poor. Could one of those comments on Pope Francis possibly have been that he favored “Liberation Theology”? And isn’t that nothing but slum-and-jungle Marxism?

Who is it who’s trying to tell us Cardinal Bergoglio’s ascendancy to pope is “bad news, indeed, for Fidel Castro and all the other left-wing dictators”? I hope that’s true; I just want to know whose lip-prints are on the instruments playing that tune.

This is the time and place to remind the forgetful of the debt all freedom-lovers owe the Roman Catholic Church beginning after World War II when the Soviet Union was thought of as “our gallant Russian allies” (which they were!) and their leader, Josef Stalin, was “Uncle Joe.” While we were luxuriating in the victory over Germany and Japan, the Catholic Church in Eastern Europe, which had been handed over to the Soviets by America and Britain, was fighting with bare fingernails to survive under Communism.

True, Catholic churches in Latin America were opulent while surrounding populations were in grinding poverty, but that’s all the Communists want to talk about. What about the fight against Soviet oppression? As early as 1948 Hungarian Cardinal Josef Mindszenty was sentenced to life imprisonment. His crime: opposing the secularization of Communist Hungary’s Catholic schools. When the Hungarians rebelled against Soviet oppression in 1956, Cardinal Mindszenty was liberated by the anti-Communist Freedom Fighters and hustled off to refuge in the American Embassy in Budapest.

Even earlier, in 1946, in Communist Yugoslavia, Roman Catholic Archbishop Aloysius Stepinac was put on trial for treason. Despite Communist dictator Tito’s popularity, the power of the Church blistered through and the Communists had to release Stepinac, who in 1952 was elevated to cardinal while the Communists of Yugoslavia smoldered.

In 1980 we saw the Roman Catholics of Poland – without firing a shot! – defeat the Communist Party and, through Lech Walesa’s Solidarity, turn Poland into a free country.

OK. Nobody’s expecting Pope Francis I to go charging into Communist North Korea with his bare hands and toss out the regime. Or even the much weaker Cuba. All I ask is, again, who exactly is trying to tell us Pope Francis is bad news for the Communists? May we hear a little bit more, please?

Good luck, Your Holiness. We hope some of the narratives about you are true!

Shortly after World War II, Stalin was asked if he feared the influence of the pope in postwar Europe. “The pope?” smiled Stalin. “How many divisions does the pope have?”

Pope Pius XII replied, “My son Josef will meet my divisions in Heaven.”

Or maybe soon in Latin America

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