Pope John Paul II (Latin: Ioannes Paulus PP. II, Italian:
Giovanni Paolo II, Polish: Jan Paweł II) born
Karol Józef Wojtyła (May 18, 1920, Wadowice, Poland – April 2, 2005, Vatican City) reigned as the
264th Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City
from October 16, 1978, until his death more than 26 years later, making his the
second-longest pontificate in modern times after Pius IX's 31-year reign. He is
the only Polish pope, and was the first non-Italian pope since the Dutch Adrian
VI in the 1520s. He is one of only four people to have been named to the Time
100 for both the 20th century and for a year in the 21st.
John Paul II <<Video
Click on pics to see more
His early reign was
marked by his opposition to communism, and he is often credited as one of the
forces which contributed to its collapse in Eastern Europe.
In the later part of his pontificate, he was notable for speaking against war,
fascism, dictatorship, materialism, abortion, contraception, relativism,
unrestrained capitalism, and what he deemed the "culture of death".
John Paul II was Pope during a period in which Catholicism's influence
declined in developed countries but expanded in the Third World. During his
reign, the pope travelled extensively, visiting over 100 countries, more than any
of his predecessors. He remains one of the most-travelled world leaders in
history. He was fluent in numerous languages: his native Polish and also
Italian, French, German, English, Spanish, Croatian, Portuguese, Russian and
Latin. As part of his special
emphasis on the universal call to holiness, he canonized a great number of
In 1992, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. On April 2, 2005 at 9:37
p.m. local time, Pope John Paul II died in the Papal Apartments while a vast
crowd kept vigil in Saint Peter's Square below. Millions of people flocked to
Rome to pay their respects to the body and for his funeral. The last years of
his reign had been marked by his fight against the various diseases ailing him,
provoking some concerns as to leadership should he become severely
incapacitated/vegetative, and speculation as to whether he should abdicate. On
May 9, 2005, Pope Benedict XVI, John Paul II's successor, waived the five year
waiting period for a cause for beatification to be opened.
John Paul II emphasized what he called the "universal call to holiness" and
attempted to define the Catholic Church's role in the modern world. He spoke out
against ideologies and politics of communism, Marxism, Socialism, imperialism,
hedonism, relativism, materialism, fascism (including Nazism), racism and
unrestrained capitalism. In many ways, he fought against oppression, secularism
and poverty. Although he was on friendly terms with many Western heads of state
and leading citizens, he reserved a special opprobrium for what he believed to
be the corrosive spiritual effects of modern Western consumerism and the
concomitant widespread secular and hedonistic orientation of Western
John Paul II affirmed traditional Catholic teachings against abortion,
contraception, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, euthanasia, in vitro
fertilisation (IVF), and unjust wars. He also defended traditional teachings on
marriage and gender roles by opposing divorce, same-sex marriage and the
ordination of women. His conservative views were sometimes criticized as
regressive. John Paul II called upon followers to vote according to Catholic
teachings. John Paul II became known as the "Pilgrim Pope" for traveling greater
distances than had all his predecessors combined. According to John Paul II, the
trips symbolized bridge-building efforts (in keeping with his title as Pontifex
Maximus, literally Master Bridge-Builder) between nations and religions,
attempting to remove divisions created through history.
He beatified 1,340 people, more people than any previous pope. The Vatican
asserts he canonized more people than the combined tally of his predecessors
during the last five centuries, and from a far greater variety of cultures.
Whether he had canonized more saints than all previous popes put together, as is
sometimes also claimed, is difficult to prove, as the records of many early
canonizations are incomplete, missing, or inaccurate. However, it is known that
his abolition of the office of Promotor Fidei ("Promoter of the Faith"
and the origin of the term Devil's advocate) streamlined the process.
In February 2004 Pope John Paul II was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize
honoring his life's work in opposing Communist oppression and helping to reshape
Pope John Paul II died on April 2, 2005 (buried April 8, 2005) after a long
fight against Parkinson's disease and other illnesses. Immediately after his
death, many of his followers demanded that he be elevated to sainthood as soon
as possible, shouting "Santo Subito" (meaning "Saint immediately" in Italian).
Both L'Osservatore Romano and Pope Benedict XVI, Pope John Paul II's
successor, referred to John Paul II " The Great" (Ioannes Paulus PP. II Magnus) .
John Paul II was succeeded by the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Joseph
Cardinal Ratzinger of Germany, the former head of the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith who had led the Funeral Mass for John Paul II.
|Coat of Arms of John Paul II
Karol Józef Wojtyła was born on 18 May 1920 in Wadowice in southern Poland
and was the youngest of three children of Karol Wojtyła and Emilia Kaczorowska.
His mother died in 1929 when he was just nine years old, and his father
supported him so that he could study. His brother, who worked as a doctor, died
when Karol was twelve. His youth was marked by extensive contacts with the then
thriving Jewish community of Wadowice. He practiced sports during his youth, and
was particularly interested in football (soccer).
After completing his studies at the Marcin Wadowita high school in Wadowice,
in 1938 Karol enrolled at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, and in a school
for drama. He worked as a volunteer
librarian and did compulsory military training in the Academic Legion, but
refused to hold or fire a weapon. In his youth he was an athlete, actor and
playwright and he learned as many as eighteen languages during his lifetime,
including Latin, Ukrainian, Greek, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, German,
English, Chinese, Japanese, Croatian, Arabic, Persian, Romanian, Turkish, Korean
other than his native Polish. He also had some facility with Russian.
In 1939, Nazi occupation forces closed the Jagiellonian University; its
academics were arrested and the university was suppressed throughout the Second
World War. All able-bodied males had to have a job. From 1940 to 1944 Karol
variously worked as a messenger for a restaurant and a manual labourer in a
limestone quarry, and then as a salesman for the Solvay chemical factory to earn
his living and to avoid being deported to Germany.
His father also died in 1941, when Karol was 20.
In 1942 he entered the underground seminary run by the Archbishop of Kraków,
Cardinal Sapieha. Karol Wojtyła was ordained a priest on November 1, 1946, by
the same bishop who confirmed him. Not long after, he was sent to study theology
at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, commonly known as the
Angelicum, where he earned a licentiate and later a doctorate in sacred
theology. This doctorate, the first of two, was based on the Latin dissertation
Doctrina de fide apud S. Ioannem a Cruce (The Doctrine of Faith
According to Saint John of the Cross). Even though his doctoral work was
unanimously approved in June 1948, he was denied the degree because he could not
afford to print the text of his dissertation (an Angelicum rule). In December of
that year, a revised text of his dissertation was approved by the theological
faculty of Jagiellonian University in Kraków, and Wojtyła was finally awarded
the degree. He earned a second doctorate, based on an evaluation of the
possibility of founding a Catholic ethic on the ethical system of
phenomenologist Max Scheler (An Evaluation of the Possibility of Constructing
a Christian Ethics on the Basis of the System of Max Scheler), in 1954. As
was the case with the first degree, he was not granted the degree upon earning
it. This time, the faculty at Jagiellonian University was forbidden by communist
authorities from granting the degree. In conjunction with his habilitation at
Catholic University of Lublin, Poland, he finally obtained the doctorate of
philosophy in 1957 from that institution, where he had assumed the Chair of
Ethics in 1956.
On July 4, 1958 Pope Pius XII named him titular bishop of Ombi and auxiliary
to Archbishop Baziak, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Kraków.
Karol Wojtyła found himself at 38 the youngest bishop in Poland.
In 1962 Bishop Wojtyła took part in the Second Vatican Council, and in
December 1963 Pope Paul VI appointed him Archbishop of Kraków. On June 26, 1967,
Paul VI announced Archbishop Wojtyła's promotion to the Sacred College of
Cardinals with the title of Cardinal Priest of San Cesareo in Palatio.
A Pope from Poland
In August 1978 following Paul's death, he voted in the Papal Conclave that
elected Pope John Paul I, who at 65 was considered young by papal standards.
However, John Paul I was in poor health and he died after only 33 days as pope,
thereby precipitating another conclave.
Voting in the second conclave was divided between two particularly strong
candidates: Giuseppe Siri, the Archbishop of Genoa; and Giovanni Benelli, the
Archbishop of Florence and a close associate of Pope John Paul I. In early
ballots, Benelli came within nine votes of victory. However, Wojtyła secured
election as a compromise candidate, in part through the support of Franz
Cardinal König and others who had previously supported Cardinal Siri.
He became the 264th Pope according to the chronological List of popes. At
only 58 years of age, he was the youngest pope elected since Pope Pius IX in
1846. Like his immediate predecessor, Pope John Paul II dispensed with the
traditional Papal coronation and instead received ecclesiastical investiture
with the simplified Papal inauguration on October 22, 1978. During his
inauguration, when the cardinals kneel before him, take their vows and kiss his
ring, he stood up as the Polish primate Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski knelt down,
stopped him from kissing the ring and hugged him (SABC2 "The Greatest souls"
documentary 2005). As Bishop of Rome he took possession of his Cathedral Church,
the Basilica of St. John Lateran, on November 12, 1978.
|Karol Wojtyła as a priest in Niegowić, Poland, 1948
On May 13, 1981 John Paul II was shot and critically wounded by Mehmet Ali
Ağca, a Turkish gunman, as he entered St. Peter's Square to address an audience.
He was rushed into the Vatican complex, then to hospital. En route to the
hospital, he lost consciousness. Ağca was caught and sentenced to life
imprisonment. Two days after Christmas 1983, John Paul II visited the prison
where his would-be assassin was being held. The two spoke privately for 20
minutes. John Paul II said, "What we talked about will have to remain a secret
between him and me. I spoke to him as a brother whom I have pardoned and who has
my complete trust." The pope also stated that Our Lady of Fatima helped keep him
alive throughout his ordeal.
"Could I forget that the event [Ali
Ağca's assassination attempt] in St. Peter’s Square took place on the day and at
the hour when the first appearance of the Mother of Christ to the poor little
peasants has been remembered for over sixty years at Fátima, Portugal? For in
everything that happened to me on that very day, I felt that extraordinary
motherly protection and care, which turned out to be stronger than the deadly
—Pope John Paul II -Memory & Identity,
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2005, p.184
On March 2, 2006, an Italian parliamentary commission concluded that the
Soviet Union was behind the attempt, in retaliation for John Paul II's support
of Solidarity, the Catholic, pro-democratic Polish workers' movement, a thesis
which had already been supported by Michael Ledeen and the CIA at the time. The
report stated that certain Communist Bulgarian security departments were
utilized to prevent the Soviet Union's role from being uncovered.
Although the Pope declared during a May 2002 visit to Bulgaria that this country
had nothing to do with the assassination attempt, his secretary, Cardinal
Stanislaw Dziwisz, alleges in his book A Life with Karol that the pope
was convinced privately that the KGB was behind the assassination attempt.
Bulgaria and Russia disputed the Italian commission's conclusions, pointing out
that the Pope denied the Bulgarian connection. This thesis was also central to
Tom Clancy's novel Red Rabbit, published in 2002.
Another assassination attempt took place on May 12, 1982, just a day before
the anniversary of the last attempt on his life, in Fatima, Portugal when a man
tried to stab John Paul II with a bayonet, but was stopped by security guards.
The psychopathic assailant, an ultraconservative and right wing Spanish
ex-priest named Juan María Fernández y Krohn, a former priest of the Diocese of
Madrid, reportedly opposed the reforms of the Second Vatican Council and called
the pope an agent of Communist Moscow. Fernández y Krohn subsequently left the
Roman Catholic priesthood and the Church and served a six-year sentence, was
treated for mental illness and was expelled from Portugal afterwards, only to
become a lawyer in Belgium, where he would try to assassinate King Juan Carlos
Pope John Paul II was also one of the targets of the Al Qaeda-funded
Operation Bojinka during a visit to the Philippines in 1995.
When he became pope in 1978, John Paul II was an avid sportsman, enjoying
hiking and swimming. In addition, John Paul II traveled extensively after
becoming pope; at the time, the 58-year old was extremely healthy and active,
jogging in the Vatican gardens (to the horror of Vatican staff, who informed him
that his jogging could be seen by tourists climbing to the summit of dome of St.
Peter's Basilica. The pope's response, according to media reports, was "so
what?"), weightlifting, swimming and hiking in mountains.
John Paul's obvious physical fitness and looks earned much comment in the
media following his election, which compared his health and trim figure to the
poor health of John Paul I and Paul VI, the portliness of John XXIII and the
constant claims of ailments of Pius XII. The only modern pope with a keep-fit
regime had been Pope Pius XI (1922–1939) who was an avid mountain climber. An
Irish Independent article in the 1980s labeled John Paul the "the keep-fit
In 1981, though, John Paul II's health suffered a major blow after the first
failed assassination attempt. After being shot, John Paul II was rushed to the
Agostino Gemelli University Polyclinic in Rome, where he received extensive
emergency surgery. The bullet-wound caused severe bleeding, and the Pope's blood
pressure dropped. Due to intestinal damage, a colostomy was also performed. He
nevertheless managed to recover, and in his speeches from the hospital window,
which would always attract large crowds, he defined "the Gemelli" as "the third
Vatican" (the first being St Peter, and the second the papal summer residence).
He went on to a full recovery, and sported an impressive physical condition
throughout the 1980s.
Starting about 1992, John Paul II's health slowly declined. He began to
suffer from an increasingly slurred speech and difficulty in hearing. In
addition, the Pope rarely walked in public. Though not officially confirmed by
the Vatican until 2003, most experts agreed that the frail pontiff suffered from
Parkinson's disease. The contrast between the athletic John Paul of the 1970s
and the declining John Paul of later years was striking. From being strikingly
fitter than his predecessors, he had declined physically to far more ill health
than was the norm among more elderly popes.
In February 2005 John Paul II was taken to the Gemelli hospital with
inflammation and spasm of the larynx, the result of influenza. Though later
released from the hospital, he was taken back after a few days because of
difficulty breathing. A tracheotomy was performed, which improved the Pope's
breathing but limited his speaking abilities, to his visible frustration. In
March 2005, speculation was high that the Pope was near death; this was
confirmed by the Vatican a few days before John Paul II died.
On March 31, 2005 the Pope developed a very high fever and profoundly low
blood pressure, but was neither rushed to the hospital nor offered life support.
Instead, he was offered medical monitoring by a team of consultants at his
private residence. This was taken as an indication that the pope and those close
to him believed that he was nearing death; it would have been in accordance with
his wishes to die in the Vatican.
Later that day Vatican sources announced that John Paul II had been given the
Anointing of the Sick by his friend and secretary Stanisław Dziwisz. During the
final days of the Pope's life, the lights were kept burning through the night
where he lay in the Papal apartment on the top floor of the Apostolic Palace.
Thousands of people rushed to the Vatican, filling St. Peter's Square and
beyond, and held vigil for two days. Upon hearing of this, the dying pope was
said to have stated: "I have searched for you, and now you have come to me, and
I thank you."
On Saturday 2 April, at about 15:30 CEST, John Paul II spoke his final words,
"Let me go to the house of the Father", to his aides in his native Polish and
fell into a coma about four hours later.
He died in his private apartment, at 21:37 CEST (19:37 UTC), 46 days short of
his 85th birthday. The mass of the vigil of the Second Sunday of Easter, that
is, Divine Mercy Sunday which was put into the Church's calendar by him on the
occasion of the canonization of St. Faustina on April 30, 2000,
had just been celebrated at his bedside. Several aides were present, along with
several Polish nuns of the Congregation of the Sisters Servants of the Most
Sacred Heart of Jesus, who ran the papal household.
A crowd of over two million within Vatican City, over one billion Catholics
world-wide, and many non-Catholics mourned John Paul II. The Poles were
particularly devastated by his death. The public viewing of his body in St.
Peter's Basilica drew over four million people to Vatican City and was one of
the largest pilgrimages in the history of Christianity. Many world leaders
expressed their condolences and ordered flags in their countries lowered to
half-mast. Numerous countries with a Catholic majority, and even some with only
a small Catholic population, declared mourning for John Paul II.
On his death certificate, (refractory) septic shock was listed as a primary
cause of death along with profound arterial hypotension leading to complete
circulatory collapse. In cases of fatal sepsis, the normal cause of death is
complete circulatory collapse.
|Millions cheer Pope John Paul II during his first visit to Poland as
pontiff in 1979
The death of Pope John Paul II set into motion rituals and traditions dating
back to medieval times. The Rite of Visitation took place from 4 April through
22:00 CET (20:00 UTC) on 7 April at St. Peter's Basilica. On 8 April the Mass of
Requiem was conducted by the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Joseph Ratzinger,
who would become the next pope under the name of Benedict XVI. It has been
estimated to have been the largest attended funeral of all time.
John Paul II was interred in the grottoes under the basilica, the Tomb of the
Popes. He was lowered into a tomb that had been created in the same alcove that
had been occupied by the remains of Blessed Pope John XXIII. The alcove had been
empty since Pope John's remains had been moved into the main body of the
basilica after his beatification by John Paul II in 2000.
The funeral of Pope John Paul II saw the single largest gathering of heads of
state in history who had come together to pay their respects.
In his memory, a number of Catholic schools have named their houses after him.
His title was: Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of Saint
Peter, Head of the College of Bishops, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church,
Patriarch of the West (this title was recently removed from the papal list of
titles by the reigning pope, Benedict XVI), Primate of Italy, Archbishop and
Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the City State of the Vatican,
Servant of the Servants of God Pope John Paul II.
Posthumous recognition and cause for canonization
Since the death of John Paul II, a number of clergy at the Vatican and laymen
throughout the world have been referring to the late pontiff as "John Paul the
Great"—only the fourth pope to be so acclaimed, and the first since the first
His successor, Pope Benedict XVI, referred to him as "the great Pope John
Paul II" in his first address from the loggia of St Peter's Church. Pope
Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Ratzinger, stirred excitement by some devotees of
the pope when in his published written homily for the Mass of Repose, he
referred to Pope John Paul II as "the Great."
Since giving his homily at the funeral of Pope John Paul, Pope Benedict XVI
has continued to refer to John Paul II as "the Great." At the 2005 World Youth
Day in Germany, Pope Benedict XVI, speaking in Polish, John Paul's native
language, said, "As the great Pope John Paul II would say: keep the flame of
faith alive in your lives and your people." In May 2006, Pope Benedict XVI
visited John Paul's native Poland. During that visit he repeatedly made
references to "the great John Paul" and "my great predecessor."
In addition to the Vatican calling him "the great," numerous newspapers have
also done so. For example the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera
called him "the Greatest" and the South African Catholic newspaper, The Southern
Cross, has called him "John Paul II The Great."
Scholars of Canon Law say that there is no official process for declaring a
pope "Great"; the title establishes itself through popular, and continued,
usage. The three popes who today commonly are known as "Great" are Leo I, who
reigned from 440–461 and persuaded Attila the Hun to withdraw from Rome, thus
saving Christianity and Catholicism in Europe from destruction; Gregory I,
590–604, after whom the Gregorian Chant is named; and Nicholas I, 858–867, who
also withstood a siege of Rome (in this case from Carolingian Christians, over a
dispute regarding marriage annulment).
On May 9, 2005 Benedict XVI began the beatification process for his
predecessor, John Paul II. Normally five years must pass after a person's death
before the beatification process can begin. However, in an audience with Pope
Benedict XVI, Camillo Ruini, Vicar General of the Diocese of Rome and the one
responsible for promoting the cause for canonization of any person who dies
within that diocese, cited "exceptional circumstances" which suggested that the
waiting period could be waived.
The "exceptional circumstances" presumably refer to the people's cries of
"Santo Subito!" ("Saint now!") during the late pontiff's funeral. Therefore the
new Pope waived the five year rule "so that the cause of Beatification and
Canonization of the same Servant of God can begin immediately."
The decision was announced on May 13, 2005, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima and
the 24th anniversary of the assassination attempt on John Paul II at St. Peter's
Square. John Paul II often
credited Our Lady of Fatima for preserving him on that day. Cardinal Ruini
inaugurated the diocesan phase of the cause for beatification in the Lateran
Basilica on 28 June 2005.
In early 2006, it was reported that the Vatican was investigating a possible
miracle associated with John Paul II. A French nun, confined to her bed by
Parkinson's Disease, is reported to have experienced a "complete and lasting
cure after members of her community prayed for the intercession of Pope John
The nun was later identified as Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre, a member of the
Congregation of Little Sisters of Catholic Maternity Wards from Puyricard, near
On May 28, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI said Mass before an estimated 900,000
people in John Paul II's native Poland. During his homily he encouraged prayers
for the early canonization of John Paul II and stated that he hoped canonization
would happen "in the near future."
In January 2007, it was announced by Stanislaw Cardinal Dziwisz of Krakow,
his former secretary, that the key interviewing phase in Italy and Poland of the
beatification process was nearing completion. Cardinal Dziwisz had been giving
an interview that featured the introduction of his new book in Polish and
Italian, Living With Karol, when he made the announcement. In February
2007, the website of the late pope's sainthood cause has stated that relics of
Pope John Paul II — pieces of white papal cassocks he used to wear — were being
freely distributed with prayer cards for the cause to interested parties; this
distribution and prayerful use of relics is a typical praiseworthy pious
practice after a saintly Catholic's death.
On 8 March 2007 it was announced that the Vicariate of Rome announced that
the diocesan phase of John Paul's cause for beatification is at an end.
Following a ceremony on 2 April 2007 — the second anniversary of the Pontiff's
death — the cause proceeded to the scrutiny of the committee of lay, clerical,
and episcopal members of the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints,
who will conduct an investigation of their own.
Not all Catholic theologians agree with the call for beatification. Eleven
dissident theologians, including Jesuit professor Jose Maria Castillo and
Italian theologian Giovanni Franzoni raised seven points, including his stance
on contraception, the role of women, and Church scandals that presented "facts
which according to their consciences and convictions should be an obstacle to
|The ailing Pope John Paul II riding in the Popemobile on September 22,
As pope, one of John Paul II's most important roles was to teach people about
Christianity. He wrote 14 papal encyclicals (List of Encyclicals of Pope John
Paul II) that many observers believe will have long-lasting influence on the
In his Apostolic Letter At the beginning of the third millennium (Novo
Millennio Ineunte), he emphasized the importance of "starting afresh from
Christ": "No, we shall not be saved by a formula but by a Person." In what he
calls a "program for all times," he placed "sanctity" as the single most
important priority of all pastoral activities in the entire Catholic Church. He
canonized many saints around the world as exemplars for his vision and he
supported the prelature of Opus Dei, whose aim is to spread the message of the
universal call to holiness and the sanctification of secular activities, which
he said is a "great ideal" and a "characteristic mark" of the Second Vatican
In The Splendour of the Truth (Veritatis Splendor) he
emphasized the dependence of man on God and his law ("Without the Creator, the
creature disappears") and the "dependence of freedom on the truth". He warned
that man "giving himself over to relativism and scepticism, goes off in search
of an illusory freedom apart from truth itself".
In Fides et Ratio (On the Relationship between Faith and Reason)
John Paul promotes a renewed interest in philosophy and an autonomous pursuit
for Truth in theological matters. Drawing on many different sources (such as
Thomism), he describes the mutually supporting relationship between faith and
reason, and emphasizes why it is important that theologians should focus on the
relationship. John Paul proposes that philosophy has lost its meaning (e.g.,
the pursuit for objective truth), and that restoring it will ultimately help
cure the nihilistic condition of our current age; and, moreover, lead to the
Truth of sacred scripture.
John Paul II also wrote extensively about workers and the social doctrine of
the Church, which he discussed in three encyclicals. Through his encyclicals,
John Paul also talked about the dignity of women and the importance of the
family for the future of mankind, and many Apostolic Letters and Exhortations.
Other encyclicals include The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae)
and Orientale Lumen (Light of the East). Often accused of
inflexibility through misunderstanding of the office of the papacy in asserting
Church Teaching, he explicitly reiterated and asserted unchanged 2,000-year old
Catholic teaching on moral matters like murder, euthanasia and abortion. These,
like all statements on faith and morals, according to the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith, when asserted in the official papal capacity possess the
quality referred to as infallibility.
John Paul II, who was present and very influential at the Vatican II
(1962–65), affirmed the teachings of that Council and did much to implement
them. Nevertheless, his critics often wished aloud that he would embrace the
so-called "progressive" agenda that some hoped would evolve as a result of the
Council. In fact, the Council did not advocate "progressive" changes in these
areas, e.g., still condemning the taking of unborn human life through
abortion as an "unspeakable crime". John Paul II continued to declare that
contraception, abortion, and homosexual acts were gravely sinful, and, with
Cardinal Ratzinger (future Pope Benedict XVI), opposed Liberation theology.
He believed in the Church's exaltation of the marital act of sexual
intercourse between a baptized man and woman within sacramental marriage as
proper and exclusive to the sacrament of marriage that was, in every instance,
profaned by contraception, abortion, divorce followed by a 'second' marriage,
and by homosexual acts. Often mistakenly assumed to be a rejection against
women, he definitively explained and asserted in 1994 for all time the Church's
lack of authority to ordain women to the priesthood, without such authority such
ordination is not legitimately compatible with fidelity to Christ. This was also
deemed a repudiation of calls to break with the constant tradition of the Church
by ordaining women to the priesthood. (Apostolic Letter 'Ordinatio Sacerdotalis')
In addition, John Paul II chose not to end the discipline of mandatory priestly
celibacy, although in a small number of unusual circumstances, he did allow
certain married clergymen of other Christian traditions who later became
Catholic to be ordained as Catholic priests.
John Paul II, as a writer of philosophical and theological thought, was
characterized by his explorations in phenomenology and personalism. He is also
known for his development of the Theology of the Body.
Role in the fall of Communism
John Paul II has been credited with helping to bring down communism in
eastern Europe by sparking what amounted to a peaceful revolution in his Polish
homeland. Lech Walesa, the founder of the Solidarity worker movement that
ultimately toppled communism, credited John Paul II with giving Poles the
courage to rise up. "The pope started this chain of events that led to the end
of communism," Walesa said. "Before his pontificate, the world was divided into
blocs. Nobody knew how to get rid of communism. "He simply said, 'Don't be
afraid, change the image of this land.'"
John Paul II's 1979 trip was the fulcrum of revolution which led to the
collapse of Communism. Timothy Garton Ash put it this way, "Without the Pope, no
Solidarity. Without Solidarity, no Gorbachev. Without Gorbachev, no fall of
Communism." (In fact, Gorbachev himself gave the Kremlin's long-term enemy his
due, "It would have been impossible without the Pope.")
By restoring to the Polish people their authentic history and culture, John
Paul II created a revolution of conscience that, fourteen months later, produced
the nonviolent Solidarity resistance movement, a unique hybrid of workers and
intellectuals. And by restoring to his people a form of freedom and a
fearlessness that communism could not reach, John Paul II set in motion the
human dynamics that eventually led, over a decade, to what we know as the
Revolution of 1989. It took the time, support and presence of the Pope, but the
flame was lit, and it would smolder and flicker before it burned from one end of
Poland to the other. Millions of people spread the revolution, but it began with
the Pope's trip home in 1979. General Wojciech Jaruzelski was reported to have
said, "That was the detonator."
In 1979, John Paul II received in audience the Soviet Foreign Minister,
Andrei Gromyko. In 1989, the Pontiff arranged the first meeting ever between a
Pope and a Kremlin chief. He met with Mikhail Gorbachev in the Vatican. They
announced that the Vatican and Moscow would establish diplomatic ties.
Gorbachev himself acknowledged publicly the role of John Paul II in the fall
of Communism. "What has happened in Eastern Europe in recent years would not
have been possible without the presence of this Pope, without the great role
even political that he has played on the world scene" (quoted in La Stampa,
March 3, 1992).
Perhaps the most significant statement the pope made after the fall of
Communism throughout his entire pontificate was that "the claim to build a world
without God has been shown to be an illusion" (Prague, April 21, 1990). For John
Paul II it was only a matter of when and how Communism would fall. Communism as
a system, in John Paul II's opinion, fell not only by the hand of divine
Providence, but as a consequence of its own mistakes and abuses. John Paul II
repeated the content of Christianity, its religious and moral message, its
defense of the human person, insisting that this is a principle to be followed.
Thus, in his estimation, Christianity itself became the determining factor in
the fall of Communism.
While celebrating the fall of Communism, however, John Paul warned against
the dangers of capitalism. "Unfortunately, not everything the West proposes as a
theoretical vision or as a concrete lifestyle reflects Gospel values." He saw in
capitalism certain "viruses": secularism, indifferentism, hedonistic
consumerism, practical materialism, and also formal atheism.
|President George W. Bush, First Lady Laura Bush, former Presidents Bush
and Clinton pay their respects to John Paul II as he lies in state in St.
Peter's Basilica, April 6, 2005.
During his pontificate, Pope John Paul II made trips to 117 countries.
In total he logged more than 1.1 million km (725,000 miles). He consistently
attracted large crowds on his travels, some amongst the largest ever assembled
in human history. While some of his trips (such as to the United States and the
Holy Land) were to places previously visited by Pope Paul VI (the first pope to
travel widely), many others were to places that no pope had ever visited before.
All these travels were paid by the money of the countries he visited and not by
One of John Paul II's earliest official visits was to Poland, in June 1979.
In 1979, he also visited the City of New York. He preached at Yankee Stadium,
Shea Stadium and Madison Square Garden. In 1981, Pope John Paul II was the first
Pope to visit Japan. In 1982 he became the first reigning pope to travel to the
United Kingdom, where he met Queen Elizabeth II, the Supreme Governor of the
Church of England.
Throughout his trips, he stressed his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary
through visits to various shrines to the Virgin Mary, notably Knock in Ireland,
Licheń Stary in Poland, Fátima in Portugal, Guadalupe in Mexico and Lourdes in
In 1984 John Paul II became the first Pope to visit South Korea and Puerto
Rico. In 1985 he visited Peru and in 1988 he made a trip to Lesotho to beatify
Joseph Gerrad. On January 15, 1995
he offered Mass to an estimated crowd of between four and eight million in
Luneta Park, Manila, Philippines, the largest ever papal crowd, and considered
the largest single event in human history. On January 20, 1998, Pope John Paul
II became the first pontiff to visit Cuba. During his visit, John Paul sharply
criticized Cuba's stance on religious expression, as well as US sanctions
against Cuba. In 1995 he took a trip to South Africa, on which he met the former
President Nelson Mandela. On March 22, 1998 he paid a second visit to Nigeria.
Also in 1999 John Paul II made another of his multiple trips to the United
States. In 2000 he became the first modern Catholic pope to visit Egypt, where
he met with the Coptic pope and the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria. In
May 2001 the Pontiff took a pilgrimage that would trace the steps of his
co-namesake, Saint Paul, across the Mediterranean, from Greece to Syria to
Pope John Paul II was greeted by U.S. President Clinton and then-First Lady
Hillary Clinton, for his Papal visit to St. Louis, Missouri in 1999.
He was the first Catholic Pope to visit and pray in an Islamic mosque, in
Damascus, Syria. He visited Umayyad Mosque, where John the Baptist is believed
to be interred.
In September 2001 amid post-September 11 concerns, he traveled to Kazakhstan,
with an audience of largely Muslims, as well as Armenia, to participate in the
celebration of the 1700 years of Christianity in that nation.
He visited Kenya, in 1995 and fluently said Mass in Nairobi in Kiswahili,
Kenya's national language and East Timor where, also fluently, he said Mass in
Relations with other religions
Pope John Paul II traveled extensively and came into contact with believers
from many divergent faiths. He constantly attempted to find common ground, both
doctrinal and dogmatic. At the World Day of Prayer for Peace, held in Assisi on
October 27, 1986, more than 120 representatives of different religions and
Christian denominations spent a day together with fasting and praying.
Pope John Paul II had good relations with the Anglican Church, referred to by
Paul VI as "our beloved Sister Church". He preached in Canterbury Cathedral
during his visit to Britain, and received Archbishops of Canterbury with
friendship and courtesy. However, John Paul II was greatly disappointed by the
Anglican Church's decision to offer the sacrament of priestly ordination to
women and saw it as a step in the opposite direction from unity between the
Anglican Church and Roman Catholicism.
Relations between Catholicism and Judaism improved during the pontificate of
John Paul II. He spoke frequently about the Church's relationship with Jews.
As a child, Karol Wojtyła had played sports with his many Jewish neighbors.
In 1979 he became the first Pope to visit the Nazi Auschwitz concentration camp
in Poland, where many of his countrymen (mostly Polish Jews) had perished during
the German Nazi occupation. He also became the first pope known to have made an
official papal visit to a synagogue, when he visited the Synagogue of Rome on
April 13, 1986.
In 1994, in honor of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the
Holy See and the State of Israel, Pope John Paul II hosted "The Papal Concert to
Commemorate the Holocaust." This concert, which was conceived and conducted by
American Maestro Gilbert Levine, was attended by the Chief Rabbi of Rome, the
President of Italy, and survivors of the Holocaust from around the world.
In March 2000, John Paul II visited Yad Vashem, (the Israeli national
Holocaust memorial) in Israel and later made history by touching the holiest
site in Judaism, the Western Wall in Jerusalem, placing a letter inside it (in
which he prayed for forgiveness for the actions against Jews in the past).
In October 2003 the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued a statement
congratulating John Paul II on entering the 25th year of his papacy.
Immediately after the pope's death, the ADL issued a statement that Pope John
Paul II had revolutionized Catholic-Jewish relations, saying that "more change
for the better took place in his 27 year Papacy than in the nearly 2,000 years
before." (Pope John Paul II: An Appreciation: A Visionary Remembered).
Eastern Orthodox Church
In May 1999, John Paul II visited Romania on the invitation from Patriarch
Teoctist of the Romanian Orthodox Church. This was the first time a pope had
visited a predominantly Eastern Orthodox country since the Great Schism in 1054.
On his arrival, the Patriarch and the President of Romania, Emil Constantinescu,
greeted the Pope. The Patriarch stated, "The second millennium of Christian
history began with a painful wounding of the unity of the Church; the end of
this millennium has seen a real commitment to restoring Christian unity."
John Paul II visited other heavily Orthodox areas such as Ukraine, despite
lack of welcome at times, and he said that an end to the Schism was one of his
The Pope had also said throughout his pontificate that one of his greatest
dreams was to visit Russia, but this never occurred. He had made several
attempts to solve the problems which arose over a period of centuries between
the Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches, such as giving back the icon of Our
Lady of Kazan in August 2004. However, the Russian Orthodox Church never
expressed much enthusiasm, making statements to the effect of: "The question of
the visit of the Pope in Russia is not connected by the journalists with the
problems between the Churches, which are now unreal to solve, but with giving
back one of many sacred things, which were illegally stolen from Russia." (Vsevolod
Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama and the spiritual leader of Tibetan
Buddhism, visited Pope John Paul II eight times, more than any other single
dignitary. The Pope and the Dalai Lama often shared similar views and understood
similar plights, both coming from peoples affected by communism and both being
heads of religious bodies.
On May 6, 2001, Pope John Paul II became the first Catholic pope to enter and
pray in an Islamic mosque. He visited Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, Syria, where
John the Baptist is believed to be interred, and gave a speech including the
statement: "For all the times that Muslims and Christians have offended one
another, we need to seek forgiveness from the Almighty and to offer each other
forgiveness."  He also famously kissed the Quran in Syria , an act which
made him popular amongst Muslims.
In 2005, Pope John Paul II hosted the "Papal Concert of Reconciliation,"
which brought together leaders of Islam with leaders of the Jewish community and
of the Catholic Church at the Vatican for a concert by choirs from Poland, the
United Kingdom, the United States, and Turkey with the Pittsburgh Symphony
Orchestra. The event was conceived and conducted by Sir Gilbert Levine, KCSG and
was broadcast throughout the world.
|The tomb of John Paul II
The Pope for youth
John Paul II had a special relationship also with Catholic youth and is known
by some as The Pope for Youth. Before he was pope he used to camp and mountain
hike with the youth. He still went mountain hiking when he was pope. He was a
hero to many of them. Indeed, at gatherings, young Catholics, and conceivably
non-Catholics, were often fond of chanting the phrase "JP Two, We Love You", and
occasionally John Paul would reply "JP Two, He Loves YOU!" He was particularly
concerned with the education of young future Priests, and made many early visits
to Roman seminaries, including to the Venerable English College in 1979.
He established World Youth Day in 1984 with the intention of bringing young
Catholics from all parts of the world together to celebrate their faith. These
week-long meetings of youth occur every two or three years, attracting hundreds
of thousands of young people, who go there to sing, party, have a good time and
deepen their faith. Some of his most faithful youths gathered themselves in two
organizations: "papaboys" and "papagirls."
Over the later parts of his reign, John Paul II made several apologies to
various peoples that had been wronged by the Catholic Church through the years.
Even before he became the Pope, he was a prominent supporter of initiatives like
the Letter of Reconciliation of the Polish Bishops to the German Bishops from
1965. During his reign as a Pope, he publicly made apologies for over 100 of
these wrongdoings, including:
- The persecution of the Italian scientist and philosopher Galileo Galilei in
the trial in 1633 (October 31, 1992).
- Catholic involvement with the African slave trade (August 9, 1993).
- The Church Hierarchy's role in burnings at the stake and the religious wars
that followed the Protestant Reformation (May 1995, in the Czech Republic).
- The injustices committed against women in the name of Christ, the violation
of women's rights and for the historical denigration of women (July 10, 1995, in
a letter to "every woman").
- Inactivity and silence of some Catholics during the Holocaust (March 16,
- For the execution of Jan Hus in 1415 (December 18, 1999 in Prague). When
John Paul II visited Prague in 1990s, he requested experts in this matter "to
define with greater clarity the position held by Jan Hus among the Church's
reformers, and acknowledged that "independently of the theological convictions
he defended, Hus cannot be denied integrity in his personal life and commitment
to the nation's moral education." It was another step in building a bridge
between Catholics and Protestants.
- For the sins of Catholics throughout the ages for violating "the rights of
ethnic groups and peoples, and [for showing] contempt for their cultures and
religious traditions". (March 12, 2000, during a public Mass of Pardons).
- For the sins of the Crusader attack on Constantinople in 1204. (4 May 2001,
to the Patriarch of Constantinople).
- For missionary abuses in the past against indigenous peoples of the South
Pacific (November 22, 2001, via the Internet).
- For the massacre of Aztecs and other Mesoamericans by the Spanish in the
name of the Church.
Social and political stances
John Paul II was considered a conservative on doctrine and issues relating to
reproduction and the ordination of women. No pope, however, has strayed from the
Catholic Church's unbroken moral teachings on artificial contraception and the
ordination of women.
A series of 129 lectures given by John Paul during his Wednesday audiences in
Rome between September 1979 and November 1984 were later compiled and published
as a single work entitled "Theology of the Body," an extended meditation on the
nature of human sexuality. He also extended it to condemnation of abortion,
euthanasia and virtually all uses of capital punishment, calling them all a part
of the "culture of death" that is pervasive in the modern world. He campaigned
for world debt forgiveness and social justice.
Relations with dictatorships
In 1984 and 1986, through the voice of Cardinal Ratzinger, leader of the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, John Paul II officially condemned
the Liberation theology which had many followers in South America. Oscar
Romero's attempt, during his visit to Europe, to obtain a Vatican condemnation
of El Salvador's regime, denounced for violations of human rights and its
support of death squads, was a failure. In his travel to Managua, Nicaragua in
1983, John Paul II harshly condemned what he dubbed the "popular Church" (i.e.
"ecclesial base communities" (CEBs) supported by the CELAM), and the Nicaraguan
clergy's tendencies to support the leftist Sandinistas, insisting instead on the
Vatican's sole and only authority.
John Paul II was criticized for visiting Augusto Pinochet in Chile. He
invited him to restore democracy, but, critics claim, not in as firm terms as
the ones he used against communist countries. John Paul also allegedly endorsed
Pío Cardinal Laghi, who critics say supported the "Dirty War" in Argentina and
was on friendly terms with the Argentinean generals of the military
dictatorship, allegedly playing regular tennis matches with general Jorge Rafael
Videla. However, the Pope has been linked to the fall of Jean-Claude Duvalier's
dictatorship in Haiti. He was also critical of the Chinese government and the
Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association running the church and appointing bishops
without the consent of the Holy See, and maintained strong ties with underground
The pope, who began his papacy when the Soviets controlled his native country
of Poland, as well as the rest of Eastern Europe, was a harsh critic of
communism, and supported the Polish Solidarity movement. Soviet leader Mikhail
Gorbachev once said the collapse of the Iron Curtain would have been impossible
without John Paul II.
In later years, after having harshly condemned Liberation theology, John Paul
II criticized some of the more extreme versions of capitalism.
Jubilee 2000 campaign
In 2000 he publicly endorsed the Jubilee 2000 campaign on African debt relief
fronted by Irish rock stars Bob Geldof and Bono. It was reported that during
this period, U2's recording sessions were repeatedly interrupted by phone calls
from the pope, wanting to discuss the campaign with Bono.
In 2003 John Paul II also became a prominent critic of the 2003 US-led
invasion of Iraq. In his 2003 State of the World address the Pope declared his
opposition to the invasion by stating, "No to war! War is not always inevitable.
It is always a defeat for humanity."
He sent former Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to the United States Pío Cardinal Laghi to
talk with American President George W. Bush to express opposition to the war.
John Paul II said that it was up to the United Nations to solve the
international conflict through diplomacy and that a unilateral aggression is a
crime against peace and a violation of international law.
European Constitutional Treaty
In European Union negotiations for a new European Constitutional Treaty in
2003 and 2004, the Vatican's representatives failed to secure any mention of
Europe's "Christian heritage"—one of the Pope's cherished goals.
The pope asserted that persons with homosexual inclinations possess the same
inherent dignity as everybody else, while taking a traditional position on
sexuality, defending the Church's moral opposition to homosexual marriage. In
his last book, Memory and Identity, he referred to the "pressures" on the
European Parliament to permit homosexual "marriage". In the book, as quoted by
Reuters, he wrote: "It is legitimate and necessary to ask oneself if this is not
perhaps part of a new ideology of evil, perhaps more insidious and hidden, which
attempts to pit human rights against the family and against man."
The Pope also reaffirmed the Church's existing teaching on gender in relation
to transsexuals, as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which he
supervised, made clear that transsexuals could not serve in church positions.
Theory of evolution and the interpretation of
- See also: Evolution and the Roman Catholic Church.
In an October 22, 1996 address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Pope
John Paul II reaffirmed the Church's openness to the theory of evolution:
- "In his encyclical Humani Generis (1950), my predecessor Pius XII has
already affirmed that there is no conflict between evolution and the doctrine of
the faith regarding man and his vocation, provided that we do not lose sight of
certain fixed points....Today, more than a half-century after the appearance of
that encyclical, some new findings lead us toward the recognition of evolution
as more than an hypothesis. In fact it is remarkable that this theory has had
progressively greater influence on the spirit of researchers, following a series
of discoveries in different scholarly disciplines. The convergence in the
results of these independent studies -- which was neither planned nor sought --
constitutes in itself a significant argument in favor of the theory." (John Paul
II, Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on Evolution)
In the same address, the Pope rejected any theory of evolution that provides
a materialistic explanation for the human soul:
- "Theories of evolution which, because of the philosophies which inspire
them, regard the spirit either as emerging from the forces of living matter, or
as a simple epiphenomenon of that matter, are incompatible with the truth about
John Paul II also wrote to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on the
subject of cosmology and how to interpret Genesis:
- "Cosmogony and cosmology have always aroused great interest among peoples
and religions. The Bible itself speaks to us of the origin of the universe and
its make-up, not in order to provide us with a scientific treatise, but in order
to state the correct relationships of man with God and with the universe. Sacred
Scripture wishes simply to declare that the world was created by God, and in
order to teach this truth it expresses itself in the terms of the cosmology in
use at the time of the writer. The Sacred Book likewise wishes to tell men that
the world was not created as the seat of the gods, as was taught by other
cosmogonies and cosmologies, but was rather created for the service of man and
the glory of God. Any other teaching about the origin and make-up of the
universe is alien to the intentions of the Bible, which does not wish to teach
how heaven was made but how one goes to heaven." (Pope John Paul II, October 3,
1981 to the Pontifical Academy of Science, "Cosmology and Fundamental Physics")
|Statue of Pope John Paul II, Catedral de la Almudena, Madrid
John Paul II was criticized from the left for his support of the Opus Dei
prelature and the canonization of its founder, Jose María Escrivá, whose
detractors call him an admirer of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. Other
prelatures and congregations went decidedly under his wing (Legion of Christ,
Catecumenos, Schoenstatt, Carismáticos, etc.) and he was accused repeatedly of
waving a soft hand on them, especially in the case of Rev. Marcial Maciel,
founder of the Legion of Christ.
John Paul II's steadfast defence of traditional moral teachings of the
Catholic Church regarding gender roles, sexuality and artificial contraception
came under attack, often from the left. Some feminists criticized his
traditional positions on the roles of women, which included rejecting women
priests. Many gay-rights activists criticized him for upholding the Church's
unbroken moral opposition to homosexual acts and its modern-day application to
the concept of same-sex marriage. Claims were made that John Paul II's papacy
spread an unproven belief that condoms do not block the spread of HIV; many
critics have blamed this for contributing to AIDS epidemics in Africa and
elsewhere in which millions have died.
Critics have also claimed that large families are caused by lack of
contraception and exacerbate Third World poverty and problems such as street
children in South America.
In addition to all the criticism from those demanding modernization,
traditional Catholics sometimes denounced him from the right, demanding a return
to the Tridentine Mass and repudiation of the reforms instituted after the
Second Vatican Council, such as the use of the vernacular language in the
formerly Latin rite Mass, ecumenism, and the principle of religious liberty. He
was also accused by these critics as allowing and appointing liberal bishops in
their sees and thus silently promoting Modernism, which was firmly condemned as
the "synthesis of all heresies" by his predecessor Pope St. Pius X. In
1988, the controversial traditionalist Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, founder of
the Society of St. Pius X (1970), was excommunicated by the Pope after the
unapproved ordination of four bishops, which was called by the Holy See a
"schismatic act". The International Peace Prayer Conference John Paul II held in
Assisi, Italy, in 1986 was heavily criticized as giving the impression that
syncretism and/or indifferentism were openly embraced by the papal magisterium.
When the second instance the Conference was held, in 2002, it was condemned as
confusing the laity and compromising to "false religions". Likewise
criticized were his kissing of the Quran in Damascus, Syria, on one of his
travels on May 6, 2001 - (a thorough analysis). His call for religious freedom
was not always supported; bishops like Antônio de Castro Mayer promoted
religious tolerance, but at the same time rejected the Vatican II principle of
religious liberty as being liberalist and already condemned by Pope Pius IX in
his Syllabus errorum (1864) and at the First Vatican Council.
John Paul II was also criticized for failing to respond quickly enough to the
sex abuse crisis, and for recentralizing power back to the Vatican following
what some viewed as a decentralization by Pope John XXIII. As such he was
regarded by some as a strict authoritarian. Conversely, he was also criticized
for spending far too much time preparing for and undertaking foreign travel. The
frequency of his trips, it was said, not only undermined the "specialness" of
papal visits, but took him away from important business at the Vatican and
allowed the Church, administratively speaking, to drift.
There was some criticism of the pope for the controversy surrounding the
alleged use of charitable social programs as a means of converting people in the
Third World to Catholicism.
The Pope created an uproar in the Indian subcontinent when he suggested that a
great harvest of faith would be witnessed on the subcontinent in the third
Because of the many criticisms he received during this lifetime, including
many assassination attempts, and due to the downfall of many of his detractors
in contrast with his posthumous fame and respect, John Paul II has been called
by some theologians a sign of contradiction (a sign that is spoken against), a
term which John Paul II suggests in his book of the same title as "a distinctive
definition of Christ and of his Church."
- John Paul II's apostolic motto was Totus Tuus ("totally yours"); he
borrowed the motto from the Marian consecrating prayer of Saint Louis Marie
Grignion de Montfort.
- John Paul II was the first Pope to have a letter (the letter 'M' for Mary)
in his coat of arms.
- According to a New York Post article of February 19, 2002, John Paul
II personally performed three exorcisms during his tenure as pope. The first
exorcism was performed on a woman in 1982. His second was in September 2000 when
he performed the rite on a 19-year-old woman who had become enraged in St
Peter's Square. A year later, in September 2001, he performed an exorcism on a
- The John Paul II International Airport (IATA: KRK), in Balice, Poland, near
Kraków where he served as Archbishop before being elected Pope, was named in his
- In 2004 he received an extraordinary Charlemagne Award of the city of
- The Harlem Globetrotters visited Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in
November of 2000 and named the Pontiff an Honorary Harlem Globetrotter.
- The action-thriller novel, Red Rabbit (2002) by Tom Clancy, detailed
a fictional KGB attempt to assassinate a newly elected Polish Pope, who, though
only mentioned by the name "Karol", is obviously supposed to be John Paul II.
- On March 23, 1999, John Paul II released his debut CD "Abbŕ Pater".
- John Paul II has been featured on at least seven popular albums in his
native Poland. Most notably singer/songwriter Stanislaw Sojka’s 2003 album, “Jan
Pawel II -- Tryptyk Rzymski”, a ten-track collection of the Pope's poems set to
music, reached No. 1.
- In 2003, his death was incorrectly announced by CNN when his pre-written
obituary (along with those of several other famous figures) was inadvertently
published on CNN's web site due to a lapse in password protection.
- In 2004 John Paul II met members of the Polish National Football Team. It
was at this time he told Liverpool Goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek that he was a keen fan
of his and followed Liverpool whenever they played.
- John Paul II is considered as the " protector " of Fluminense Football Club
among supporters of this traditional Brazilian football team.One of the team's
most famous chants is "A Bęnçăo, Joăo de Deus" ("Bless us, John of God"), a song
that was composed in honour of the pope John Paul II on his first visit to
Brazil in 1980. The tradition is that Fluminense fans spontaneously started
singing the famous song when the team was to decide the 1980 state championship
on a penalty shootout against their arch-rivals Vasco da Gama. Fluminense won
- John Paul II is the eighth most admired person by U.S. citizens in the 20th
century, according to Gallup.
- John Paul II was an avid football player in his youth and later became an
honorary member of FC Barcelona and Schalke 04. He was a goalkeeper.
- His favorite football team had always been Cracovia Krakow, whose games he
attented while living in Krakow,
- Polish Formula 1 driver Robert Kubica drives in a helmet with the "Jan Pawel
- John Paul II sent the first papal e-mail in 2001.
- Solar eclipses took place both on the day he was born, and the day of his
- In 2004, Ferrari made a special F1 car for the pope to celebrate his 26th
anniversary as the pontiff.
- '... He's met / The Dalai Lama, / Fidel Castro, / Yasser Arafat, / Crossing
borders and boundaries / Guarded not always by the Swiss guards...' from the
poem Karol Józef Wojtyła by Mediterranean poetess, Beatrice Lao.
- John Paul II is the only Pope that appears as a main character in his own
comic book and animation feature.
- John Paul II, when meeting Bono and Bob Geldof during their visit famously
asked to try on Bono's trademark Fly sunglasses, leading to one of the most
enduring and personal images of his life.
- In 1988, when the Pope delivered a speech to the European Parliament, the
leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, Ian Paisley, shouted "I renounce you as
the antichrist!" and held up a poster reading "POPE JOHN PAUL II ANTICHRIST".
The Pope continued with his address after Paisley was ejected from the
- John Paul II (as portrayed by an actor) featured at the climax of the hit
1992 film Sister Act.
- A popular story in chess circles states that a certain Karol Wojtyła had
published a chess problem in 1946. Although the young Wojtyła was indeed an
accomplished chess player, the story of this publication appears to be a hoax
whose roots were uncovered by Tomasz Lissowski.
Books, Poetry, Films, Media on
Pope Paul II
Ioannes Paulus II Peninsula on Livingston Island in the South Shetland
Islands, Antarctica is named for Pope John Paul II in recognition of his
outstanding contribution to world peace and understanding among people.
Pope John Paul II Drive in Chicago is named in his honor because he visited
There is a Pope John Paul II park in Boston, Massachusetts.
Joăo Paulo II Airport in Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal is named in his
honor because he visited that city.
The Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C. is named for and
dedicated to him, as is Krakow's international airport.
John Paul II Square in Sofia was named for him on the occasion of his visit
to Bulgaria in 2002.
He is probably Poland's most known contemporary figure and is even now being
called Pope John Paul II The Great. Philosophers and theologians influenced by
him include-among countless others: his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, Jurgen
Habermas, John Haas, Andrew Greeley, Rocco Buttiglione, Hans Köchler, George
Weigel, Scott Hahn, Mary Beth Bonacci, Deirdre McQuaide, Antoinette Bosco, Hans
Kung, Yves Congar, Avery Dulles, SJ, John J. Myers, Archbishop Raymond Leo
Burke, Joseph Bernardin, Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Timothy M. Dolan,
Edward Egan, John O'Connor, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, Christoph Schonborn,
Stanislaw Dziwisz, Franciszek Macharski, Josef Glemp, Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J.,
Paolo Dezza, Pedro Arrupe, S.J., Oscar Romero, Mother Theresa, Walter Kasper,
Michael Fitzgerald, Jean-Marie Lustiger, Andre Vingt-Trois, and Elio Sgreccia.
Map indicating countries Pope
John Paul II visited.
In Paris, the place du Parvis-Notre-Dame (french for "Notre-Dame
square") was renamed Parvis Notre-Dame - Place Jean-Paul II ("Notre-Dame
- John Paul II square").
Pope John Paul II
Born: May 18, 1920
|Archbishop of Kraków
Pope John Paul I
Pope Benedict XVI