Part IV from the book I’m reading, The Keys of This Blood by Malachi Martin (New York, Simon & Schuster, 1990).
Pope John Paul had a two-pronged approach toward the Soviet Union. One was political; the other was to foment sociocultural change within it. This is from pages 43-44:
…there was nothing in the Vatican’s Ostpolitik, and nothing in the Vatican protocols, to keep [the Pope] from attempting an end run around the Soviet Party-State. In precisely such a move, the New Holy Father set about building closer and ever closer ties with the Russian Orthodox Church and with Eastern Orthodoxy in general.
This papal end run included overt moves – John Paul visiting the Greek Orthodox center in Instanbul, for example; and he received and openly favored visits to the Vatican by Orthodox prelates. But there were also constant covert moves originating in Poland and radiating into western parts of the USSR, moves that fostered a common religious bond between Eastern European roman Catholics and Russian Orthodox communities.
Later historians with access to records unavailable today will document the successes of John Paul’s end-run policies and their basic premise. Suffice it to say now that, in spite of the official prostitution of the Russian Orthodox Church to the ideological policies of the Party-State, John Paul’s efforts nourished within that Church a genuinely Christian core of prelates and people eager once and for all to reenter the mainstream of European Christianity as vindicated by papal Rome; and eager as well to renounce the role, accepted once upon a time by Russian Orthodox Church authorities, as servants of the Soviet Party-State in the fomentation of worldwide revolution.
By the opening of the eighties, about half of the Orthodox prelates were already secretly prepared, if the opportunity were afforded, to place themselves under the ecclesiastical unity of the Roman Pope.
Martin Malachi remarks a couple of paragraphs later (p. 45) that this "end run around Soviet officaldom was not a religious gambit, but a geopolitical strategy."
So much for the self-congratulatory talk one sometimes hears in Orthodox circles about the pope: He's afraid of us because he knows we have the true Faith. He dares not deny our doctrine, because the Catholics themselves once taught it. So since he cannot deny our doctrine, yet it is differenct from his, he feels the only thing left is, he has to get rid of us.
Nnnnnnno. Theology and spirituality don't enter into it. The Pope isn’t even interested in us religiously at all. Only in whatever political power or influence the Orthodox Church may have. It is our misfortune, you see, to occupy, in Europe, a place of great strategic importance. "In John Paul’s geopolitical analysis, Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals is a giant seesaw of power. Europe from the Baltic to the Adriatic Sea is the center of that power. The Holy Father’s battle was to control that center."