Like the USSR under Stalin, a Stalinist political system was established in all Eastern bloc states by 1949. Except for Czechoslovakia, eastern Europe did not have a strong tradition of democracy. A desire for a relaxation in the rigid control of the Communist Party was always apparent in almost every Eastern bloc state. This was most noticeable in the relations between communist governments and the Roman Catholic Church. Communist control over education and its support for atheism meant that conflict was inevitable. […] In 1978 the Catholic Church in the Eastern bloc received a considerable boost with the election of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Poland as Pope John Paul II. This led to a resurgence of Polish Catholicism which helped undermine communist rule.
Crises faced by the USSR in eastern Europe after 1949: