The sight of police closing down a church service is one of the worst moments of this national panic. 

I am more and more sure that this country is suffering a revolution in which much that we used to know and believe is being quietly, insistently destroyed.

But Scotland Yard’s raid on the Church of Christ the King in Balham, South London, was especially distressing, not least because most of the congregation there are Polish, from a country where the Christian religion was only recently freed from state harassment.

When I travelled and lived in Communist countries, churches were one of the few fortresses of resistance against the overwhelming power of those secret police states.

It was from the Gethsemane Church in East Berlin that some of the first and bravest demonstrations began against that iron tyranny, and I will never forget the night police surrounded the shabby redbrick building to intimidate an open protest against the regime.

But most potent of all was the revolt by the Polish Roman Catholic church against the squalid, thuggish government imposed on that country by Moscow. It seemed as if it was uncontrollable. 

Poles were consumed with delight that a son of Poland, John Paul II, had become Pope, and so they behaved like free men and women even though their land was still officially a Communist prison.

Their path from Soviet darkness back into the light of liberty looks easy now that Polish Communism is a memory and the vast Soviet armed forces are nothing but rust. But it was not so then.

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