The first non-Italian to be elected Pope since the 16th Century, Pope John Paul II represented a rejuvenation of Catholic influence upon the world stage. The United States gave formal diplomatic recognition to the Papacy for the first time in its history. As a Pope elected from communist Poland, John Paul II presented an enormous challenge for Poland’s leadership. To criticize the new papacy would only alienate the public, to embrace it would be antithetical to communist doctrine. Furthermore, John Paul II was known to be an ardent critic of communism. John Paul’s election marked a turning point in internal Polish political dynamics that would culminate in the Solidarity movement. Mikhail Gorbachev remarked that the fall of the iron curtain would have been impossible without John Paul II.
Time: Mid War
Removed after event: Yes
This isn’t really a problem to deal with influence-wise, since most Soviet Premiers already overprotect Poland with some mixture of Comecon/Warsaw Pact/opening setup influence.
The real issue is Solidarity, which can prove quite annoying later on. John Paul II won’t control Poland for the US, but Solidarity (coupled with East European Unrest) can.
Therefore, at best, this event is only a wash for you, and at worst, it creates further problems for you down the line. This makes John Paul II a very attractive recruit for the Soviet cosmonaut program.
For the reasons listed above, I try to trigger John Paul II so that the USSR has to worry about Solidarity later. It’s a nice AR7 play, especially if you hold Truman Doctrine, because Poland is not only adjacent to the USSR but also a key realignment modifier on East Germany when Tear Down This Wall arrives in the Late War. It gets even better with NORAD in play, because it provides another good place for NORAD influence.
But I wouldn’t over-invest into Eastern Europe until I’m sure that Warsaw Pact is safely disposed of. Trigger John Paul II, make the USSR sweat a little bit, but don’t immediately pour in influence unless you know you can’t be thrown out by the Warsaw Pact.