Early Life • Pope John Paul II was born in on the 18th of May 1920 in Wadowice, Poland. • His birth name was Karol JózefWojtyla. • His mother died when he was 9 years old, and his older brother Edmund died when he was 12. • He went to school in Krakow's Jagiellonian University in 1938, but it was closed by the Nazi’s the following year. • He studied to become a priest at a secret seminary run by the archbishop of Krakow and was ordained a priest after the end of World War II.
Rise within the Church • Pope John Paul spent two years in Rome studying theology. • He then returned to Poland in 1948 and served in several different parishes around Krakow. • In 1958 he became bishop of Ombi and six years later he was appointed archbishop of Krakow. • He participated in the Vatican II council that helped reform the Church under Pope John XXIII. • John Paul was made a cardinal in 1967 by Pope Paul VI.
Becoming Pope • In 1978 Pope John Paul II was elected Pope after the death of Pope John Paul I, who died after 33 days of papacy. • He was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. • At 58 years of age he was the youngest pope since Pope Pius IX in 1846 who was 54 years of age.
Pastoral Visits • Pope John Paul II visited 129 countries during his reign as Pope, including Ireland in 1979. • He was a great believer in respecting others beliefs and so was the first Pope ever to: • Visit and pray in an Islamic mosque, in Damascus, Syria in 2001. • Visit Egypt in 2000. • Meet with the Queen of England, Elizabeth I and also travel to the UK in 1982. • Visit the White House to meet president Carter in 1979. • Visit and pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
Human Rights Work • Pope John Paul’s great faith brought him into conflict with various groups on moral issues. • He was an outspoken critic of capital punishment i.e. the death penalty in the United States. • He criticised the apartheid regime in South Africa and was praised by Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu for protecting human rights and condemning social injustice. • He was a vocal critic of the 2003 US Invasion of Iraq. He sent Cardinal Laghi to talk to American President George Bush to express opposition to the war. • He also pleaded for an end to the Rwandan genocides in the 1990s.
Role in the Fall of Communism • Pope John Paul II is viewed as instrumental in causing the fall of communism during the 1990s. • He is viewed as the trigger for peaceful revolutions across Eastern Europe especially in Poland which lead to the eventual dissolution of the Soviet Unionin 1991. • He said “Do not be afraid” and later prayed: “Let your Spirit descend and change the image of the land... this land”. This became known as the Solidarity Revolution in Poland. • In 1989, John Paul II met with Mikhail Gorbachev at the Vatican and each expressed his respect and admiration for the other. Gorbachev once said "The collapse of the Iron Curtain wouldn’t have been impossible without John Paul II".
One historian summarised his role in three steps: • Without the Polish Pope, no Solidarity Revolution in Poland in 1980. • Without Solidarity, no dramatic change in Soviet policy towards eastern Europe under Gorbachev. • Without that change, no velvet revolutions in 1989. • President George Bush presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Pope John Paul II, which is America’s highest civilian honour, in 2004. • Pope John Paul II was also nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Death and Canonisation • Pope John Paul II died on the 2nd of April 2005. • He had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease since 2001. • His funeral was one of the largest ever with 4 million people making the trip to Rome. It was the single largest gathering of heads of state in history with Four kings, five queens, at least 70 presidents and prime ministers, and more than 14 leaders of other religions. • Pope John Paul II was canonised by Pope Francis I on May 1st 2014.
Why I chose him • I chose Pope John Paul II because I admired him. I admired the way he stood up for things that are important such as human rights. • I think he is a great inspiration to people and he is now an example of how you can be a saint in the modern age. • I also liked the way he lead by example; such as when he forgave the man who attempted to shoot him in 1981 and also when he encouraged the people of Poland to fight communism peacefully during his visit in 1971.