In the international arena of the Cold War, the manipulation of religion became a feature of the policy of the two powers, the USA and the USSR, albeit in different ways. However, religions and their institutions were not simply pawns in the hands of states; although instrumentalized, they formed part of an extensive and composite set of relations that at global level combined to shape the course of the Cold War. The Vatican’s Ostpolitik constitutes one of the main themes in the history of relations between religion and the dynamics of the Cold War. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the central pillar of the Soviet position in regard to the Holy See remained a refusal to accept any form of what was regarded to be interference in the internal affairs of the Soviet Union. Moscow was wary of the Vatican’s Ostpolitik, viewing it as an expression of the flexibility with which Rome sought new ways to pursue its traditional policy of strengthening Catholicism in the Soviet territories and opposing communism. This was the position of the Soviet organs that controlled religious life in the USSR: the KGB and the Council for Religious Affairs. But there were considerations of a different kind which concerned the Soviet Union’s foreign policy. The positions taken by Rome, from the pontificate of John XXIII onwards, on the theme of peace and the role of the Holy See in constructing the architecture of security and cooperation in Europe were closely watched by the Kremlin in function of the main objectives of the USSR’s international policy. Within a frame of reciprocal instrumentality, neither party judged it pointless or inappropriate to maintain a tenuous thread of dialogue between Rome and Moscow. Hence dialogue and antagonism were the key components of Moscow’s attitude towards the Vatican’s Ostpolitik in the 1960s and 1970s.
Roccucci, A. (2015). Moscow and the Vatican’s Ostpolitik in the 1960s and 1970s: Dialogue and Antagonism. In András Fejérdy (a cura di), The Vatican «Ostpolitik» 1958-1978. Responsibility and Witness during John XXIII and Paul VI (pp. 63-83). Roma : Viella.