Gorbachev Admits He's Christian

Ex-Soviet prez publicly atheist, but Reagan sensed 'closet believer'

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 19, 2008 9:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – Nearly 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union's atheist empire, Mikhail Gorbachev has admitted he is a Christian, reports the Daily Telegraph. On a visit to Italy the last president of the Communist state prayed at the tomb of St. Francis of Assisi, and later told priests the saint had played a fundamental role in his life. "St. Francis is, for me, the alter Christus, the other Christ," said Gorbachev.

Gorbachev always professed atheism as Soviet leader, although Ronald Reagan is said to have suspected that his Cold War adversary was a "closet believer." Gorbachev's parents baptized him in the Russian Orthodox church and his wife's parents were killed during World War II for owning religious icons.

President Reagan and Russian General Secretary Gorbachev signing the INF Treaty in the East Room of the White House, December, 8, 1987.
President Reagan and Russian General Secretary Gorbachev signing the INF Treaty in the East Room of the White House, December, 8, 1987.   (KRT Photos)
Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev speaks to students and faculty at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2007,  in Cambridge, Mass.
Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev speaks to students and faculty at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2007, in Cambridge, Mass.   (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)
Soviet ex-president Mikhail Gorbachev has admitted for the first time that he is a Christian.
Soviet ex-president Mikhail Gorbachev has admitted for the first time that he is a Christian.   (Getty Images (by Event))
GB. ENGLAND. London. Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev leads a state visit to Britian, the first for eight years. 1985. (LON37561)
GB. ENGLAND. London. Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev leads a state visit to Britian, the first for eight years. 1985. (LON37561)   (Magnum Photos)
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