Pope John Paul II 1920-2005
Karol Jozef Wojtyla • Born May 18, 1920 • Near Krakow in southern Poland • Sister, Olga, died in infancy before Karol was born • Mother, Emilia died in child birth when Karol was 8 years old on April 13, 1929. • Older brother, Edmund was a doctor and died at age 26 when Karol was 12 years old • Father died when Karol was 20 years old
“I was not at my mother’s death, I was not at my brother’s death, I was not at my father’s death. At twenty, I had already lost all of the people I loved.”
When he was in 3rd grade he was called to the front of the class and told his mother had died. He returned to his desk. • His father took him to a Marian shrine which began his devotion to Mother Mary. • His father did much of the house work so he could study.
While in high school and college Karol performed in theater productions, wrote plays, studied several languages and played various sports. • Karol entered the underground seminary in 1942 during the German occupation of Poland. • He was ordained a priest in 1946 and earned a doctoral degree in theology and another doctorate in philosophy.
He taught ethics at the Jagiellonian University there and subsequently at the Catholic University of Lublin. While teaching, Wojtyła gathered a group of about 20 young people, who began to call themselves Rodzinka, the "little family". They met for prayer, philosophical discussion, and helping the blind and sick. The group eventually grew to approximately 200 participants, and their activities expanded to include annual skiing and kayaking trips .
In 1960, Wojtyła published the influential theological book Love and Responsibility, a defense of the traditional Church teachings on marriage from a new philosophical standpoint.
At age 38 he was made the youngest bishop in Poland. • He took part in the Vatican Council II. • In 1964 he was made Archbishop of Krakow and in 1967 he became a Cardinal. • In 1978 at age 58 Karol became Pope John Paul II, among the youngest persons to be elected to this position in the Catholic Church.
On May 13, 1981, he was shot in an attempted assassination by a trained Turkish gunman and member of the militant group, Grey Wolves. • A second assassination attempt occurred on May 2, 1982 by a Spanish priest from the right-wing Lefebvre group who opposed the Vatican Council II initiatives.
During his pontificate he wrote 14 encyclicals and traveled to 129 countries, logging more miles than any other pontiff. • In 1984 he initiated World Youth Day out of a deep love for young people • He was concerned about the world they lived in and sought to offer moral guidance and a life with meaning.
He delivered 129 homilies to general audiences on the topic of love in relationships. • These were collected in the work known as a “Theology of the Body.” • It is an extended meditation on the nature of human sexuality.
John Paul II publically apologized to Jews, Galileo, women, victims of the Inquisition, Muslims slaughtered by the Crusaders, for the inactivity and silence of many Catholics during the Holocaust and almost everyone who had suffered at the hands of the Catholic Church through the years.