We publish below the telegram of condolence for the death of the Honourable Mikhail Gorbachev sent by the Holy Father Francis to his daughter, Mrs. Irina Gorbachev:
MRS. IRINA GORBACHEV
SPIRITUALLY CLOSE AT THIS TIME OF SORROW FOR THE DEATH OF YOUR FATHER THE HONOURABLE MIKHAIL, I WISH TO OFFER HEARTFELT CONDOLENCES TO YOU, TO ALL HIS FAMILY MEMBERS AND TO ALL THOSE WHO SAW IN HIM A RESPECTED STATESMAN. IN REMEMBERING WITH GRATITUDE HIS FAR-SIGHTED COMMITMENT TO CONCORD AND BROTHERHOOD AMONG PEOPLES, AS WELL AS TO THE PROGRESS OF HIS COUNTRY AT A TIME OF IMPORTANT CHANGES, I RAISE PRAYERS OF SUFFRAGE, INVOKING FOR HIS SOUL FROM THE GOOD AND MERCIFUL GOD ETERNAL PEACE.
Biographical note Mikhail Gorbachev
He was the last president of the Soviet Union, protagonist of perestroika and glasnost, Nobel Peace Prize winner. In 1989, after his historic meeting with John Paul II, the last leader of the Soviet Union, he died at night, at the age of 91, at the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow, where he had been hospitalized due to a long illness. Born in 1931, Mikhail Gorbachev was one of the most important figures of the late 20th century, both for the restoration of relations with the West and the commitment to reduce nuclear arsenals, and for the reforms undertaken within the USSR that led to the collapse of Soviet communism and the end of the Cold War. Originally from the North Caucasus, Gorbachev studied law and was appointed party leader of his region at the age of 39.
In 1978 he was in Moscow as secretary of the party’s Central Committee, in 1985 he became general secretary after Černenko and in 1990 he was elected president of the USSR. His meeting with John Paul II in the Vatican on 1 December 1989 was unforgettable. The Soviet President and the Polish Pope shook hands. He was a ‘rare leader’ of ‘extraordinary foresight’ who ‘made the world a safer place’, commented US President Joe Biden, while UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres remembers ‘a unique statesman who changed the course of history’.
The world, he added, has lost a ‘global leader and tireless advocate for peace’.