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264th Pope of the Catholic Church, saint

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Pope John Paul II (: Ioannes Paulus II; : Giovanni Paolo II; : Jan Paweł II; born Karol Józef Wojtyła;; 18 May 1920 – 2 April 2005) served as and sovereign of the State from 1978 to 2005. He is called Saint John Paul the Great by some Catholics.

He was elected by the , which was called after , who had been to succeed , died after thirty-three days. Cardinal Wojtyła was elected on the third day of the conclave and adopted his predecessor's name in tribute to him. John Paul II is recognised as helping to end in his native Poland and eventually all of Europe. John Paul II significantly improved the Catholic Church's relations with , , the , and the . He upheld the Church's teachings on such matters as artificial and the , but also supported the Church's and its reforms.

He was one of the most travelled world leaders in history, visiting 129 countries during his pontificate. As part of his special emphasis on the , he and 483 , more than the combined tally of his predecessors during the preceding five centuries. By the time of his death, he had named most of the , consecrated or co-consecrated a large number of the world's bishops, and ordained many priests. A key goal of John Paul's papacy was to transform and reposition the Catholic Church. His wish was "to place his Church at the heart of a new religious alliance that would bring together in a great religious armada".

John Paul II was the pope in modern history after , who served for nearly 32 years from 1846 to 1878. Born in , John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope since the , who served from 1522 to 1523. John Paul II's cause for canonisation commenced in 2005 one month after his death with the traditional five-year waiting period waived. On 19 December 2009, John Paul II was proclaimed by his successor and was on 1 May 2011 () after the attributed one miracle to his intercession, the healing of a French nun from . A second miracle attributed to John Paul II's intercession was approved on 2 July 2013, and confirmed by two days later (two miracles must be attributed to a person's intercession to be declared a saint). John Paul II was canonised on 27 April 2014 (again ), together with . On 11 September 2014, Pope Francis added these two to the worldwide of saints, in response to worldwide requests. It is traditional to celebrate saints' feast days on the anniversary of their deaths, but that of John Paul II (22 October) is celebrated on the anniversary of his .


Early life

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The wedding portrait of John Paul II's parents, Emilia and Karol Wojtyła Snr

Karol Józef Wojtyła was born in the Polish town of . He was the youngest of three children born to (1879–1941), an , and (1884–1929), whose mother's maiden surname was Scholz. Emilia, who was a schoolteacher, died in childbirth in 1929 when Wojtyła was eight years old. His elder sister Olga had died before his birth, but he was close to his brother Edmund, nicknamed Mundek, who was 13 years his senior. Edmund's work as a physician eventually led to his death from , a loss that affected Wojtyła deeply.

As a boy, Wojtyła was athletic, often playing as . During his childhood, Wojtyła had contact with Wadowice's large Jewish community. School football games were often organised between teams of Jews and Catholics, and Wojtyła often played on the Jewish side. "I remember that at least a third of my classmates at elementary school in Wadowice were Jews. At elementary school there were fewer. With some I was on very friendly terms. And what struck me about some of them was their Polish patriotism." It was around this time that the young Karol had his first serious relationship with a girl. He became close to a girl called Ginka Beer, described as "a Jewish beauty, with stupendous eyes and jet black hair, slender, a superb actress."

In mid-1938, Wojtyła and his father left Wadowice and moved to , where he enrolled at the . While studying such topics as and various languages, he worked as a volunteer librarian and was required to participate in in the , but he . He performed with various theatrical groups and worked as a playwright. During this time, his talent for language blossomed, and he learned as many as 12 languages — , , , , , , , , , , and , nine of which he used extensively as pope.

In 1939, closed the university after invading Poland. Able-bodied males were required to work, so from 1940 to 1944 Wojtyła variously worked as a messenger for a restaurant, a manual labourer in a limestone quarry and for the chemical factory, to avoid deportation to Germany. In 1940 he was struck by a tram, suffering a fractured skull. The same year he was hit by a lorry in a quarry, which left him with one shoulder higher than the other and a permanent stoop. His father, a former Austro-Hungarian and later officer in the , died of a heart attack in 1941, leaving Wojtyła as the immediate family's only surviving member. "I was not at my mother's death, I was not at my brother's death, I was not at my father's death," he said, reflecting on these times of his life, nearly forty years later, "At twenty, I had already lost all the people I loved."

After his father's death, he started thinking seriously about the priesthood. In October 1942, while the war continued, he knocked on the door of the and asked to study for the priesthood. Soon after, he began courses in the run by the , . On 29 February 1944, Wojtyła was hit by a German truck. German tended to him and sent him to a hospital. He spent two weeks there recovering from a severe and a shoulder injury. It seemed to him that this accident and his survival was a confirmation of his vocation. On 6 August 1944, a day known as "Black Sunday", the rounded up young men in Kraków to curtail , similar to the recent . Wojtyła escaped by hiding in the basement of his uncle's house at 10 Tyniecka Street, while the German troops searched above. More than eight thousand men and boys were taken that day, while Wojtyła escaped to the Archbishop's Palace, where he remained until after the Germans had left.

On the night of 17 January 1945, , and the students reclaimed the ruined . Wojtyła and another seminarian volunteered for the task of clearing away piles of frozen excrement from the toilets. Wojtyła also helped a 14-year-old Jewish refugee girl named Edith Zierer, who had escaped from a Nazi in . Edith had collapsed on a railway platform, so Wojtyła carried her to a train and stayed with her throughout the journey to Kraków. Edith credits Wojtyła with saving her life that day. and other authorities have said that Wojtyła helped protect many other from the Nazis. During the , a Jewish family sent its son, Stanley Berger, to be hidden by a Polish family. Berger's biological Jewish parents died during the Holocaust, and after the war Berger's new Christian parents asked a young Polish priest named Karol Wojtyła, the future Pope John Paul II, to baptise the boy. The future pope refused, claiming that the child should be raised in the Jewish faith of his birth parents and nation, not as a Catholic. In September 2003, Emmanuelle Pacifici, the head of Italy's Jewish community, proposed that John Paul II receive the medal of a for saving a two-year-old Jewish boy by giving him to a Gentile Polish family to be hidden in 1942, when Karol Wojtyła was just a seminarian. After the war, this boy's Christian adopted parents asked the future Pope John Paul II to baptise the boy, yet once again he refused, as with Berger. After the war, Karol Wojtyła did everything he could to ensure that this Jewish boy he saved leave Poland to be raised by his Jewish relatives in the United States. In April 2005, shortly after John Paul II's death, the Israeli government created a commission to honour the legacy of John Paul II. One of the proposed ways of honouring him was to give him the medal of the Righteous Among the Nations. In Wojtyła's last book, , he described the 12 years of the Nazi régime as "", quoting from the Polish theologian and philosopher .


After finishing his studies at the seminary in Kraków, Wojtyła was as a priest on , 1 November 1946, by the Archbishop of Kraków, Cardinal Sapieha. Sapieha sent Wojtyła to Rome's Pontifical International Athenaeum Angelicum, the future , to study under the French Dominican Fr. beginning on 26 November 1946. He resided in the during this time, under presidency of Mgr . Wojtyła earned a in July 1947, passed his doctoral exam on 14 June 1948, and successfully defended his doctoral thesis titled Doctrina de fide apud S. Ioannem a Cruce (The Doctrine of Faith in St. ) in philosophy on 19 June 1948. The Angelicum preserves the original copy of Wojtyła's typewritten thesis. Among other courses at the Angelicum, Wojtyła studied Hebrew with the Dutch Dominican Peter G. Duncker, author of the Compendium grammaticae linguae hebraicae biblicae.

According to Wojtyła's schoolmate the future Austrian Cardinal , in 1947 during his sojourn at the Wojtyła visited , who heard his confession and told him that one day he would ascend to "the highest post in the Church". Cardinal Stickler added that Wojtyła believed that the prophecy was fulfilled when he became a Cardinal.

Wojtyła returned to Poland in the summer of 1948 for his first assignment in the village of , fifteen miles (24 kilometres) from Kraków, at the . He arrived at Niegowić at harvest time, where his first action was to kneel and kiss the ground. He repeated this gesture, which he adapted from the French saint , throughout his papacy.

In March 1949, Wojtyła was transferred to the parish of in Kraków. He taught ethics at and subsequently at the . While teaching, he gathered a group of about 20 young people, who began to call themselves Rodzinka, the "little family". They met for prayer, philosophical discussion, and to help the blind and sick. The group eventually grew to approximately 200 participants, and their activities expanded to include annual and trips.

In 1953, Wojtyła's habilitation thesis was accepted by the Faculty of Theology at the Jagiellonian University. In 1954, he earned a , evaluating the feasibility of a Catholic ethic based on the ethical system of the with a dissertation titled "Reevaluation of the possibility of founding a Catholic ethic on the ethical system of Max Scheler" (Ocena możliwości zbudowania etyki chrześcijańskiej przy założeniach systemu Maksa Schelera). Scheler was a German philosopher who founded a broad that emphasised the study of conscious experience. However, the Communist authorities abolished the Faculty of Theology at the Jagellonian University, thereby preventing him from receiving the degree until 1957. Wojtyła developed a theological approach that combined traditional Catholic with the ideas of , a philosophical approach deriving from phenomenology, which was popular among Catholic intellectuals in Kraków during Wojtyła's intellectual development. He translated Scheler's Formalism and the Ethics of Substantive Values.

During this period, Wojtyła wrote a series of articles in Kraków's Catholic newspaper, ("Universal Weekly"), dealing with contemporary church issues. He focused on creating original during his first dozen years as a priest. War, life under Communism, and his pastoral responsibilities all fed his poetry and plays. Wojtyła published his work under two pseudonyms—Andrzej Jawień and Stanisław Andrzej Gruda—to distinguish his literary from his religious writings (under his own name), and also so that his literary works would be considered on their merits. In 1960, Wojtyła published the influential theological book , a defence of traditional Church teachings on marriage from a new philosophical standpoint.

While a priest in Kraków, groups of students regularly joined Wojtyła for hiking, skiing, bicycling, camping and kayaking, accompanied by prayer, outdoor Masses and theological discussions. In Stalinist-era Poland, it was not permitted for priests to travel with groups of students. Father Wojtyła asked his younger companions to call him "Wujek" (Polish for "Uncle") to prevent outsiders from deducing he was a priest. The nickname gained popularity among his followers. In 1958, when Wojtyła was named auxiliary bishop of Kraków, his acquaintances expressed concern that this would cause him to change. Wojtyła responded to his friends, "Wujek will remain Wujek," and he continued to live a simple life, shunning the trappings that came with his position as Bishop. This beloved nickname stayed with Wojtyła for his entire life and continues to be affectionately used, particularly by the Polish people.

Episcopate and cardinalate

Where John Paul II once lived as priest and bishop on Kanonicza Street, Kraków (now an Archdiocese Museum)

On 4 July 1958, while Wojtyła was on a kayaking holiday in the lakes region of northern Poland, appointed him as the of Kraków. He was then summoned to Warsaw to meet the of Poland, , who informed him of his appointment. He agreed to serve as Auxiliary Bishop to Kraków's , and he received episcopal consecration (as Titular Bishop of ) on 28 September 1958. Baziak was the principal consecrator. Principal co-consecrators were Bishop (Titular Bishop of and , auxiliary of the Catholic Archdiocese of Wrocław, and future Cardinal and Archbishop of Wrocław) and then-Auxiliary Bishop Franciszek Jop of the (Titular Bishop of ; later Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Wrocław and then Bishop of the ). At the age of 38, Wojtyła became the youngest bishop in Poland. The following year, 1959, Wojtyla held 's first ever , a on . Baziak died in June 1962 and on 16 July Wojtyła was selected as Vicar Capitular (temporary administrator) of the Archdiocese until an Archbishop could be appointed.

In October 1962, Wojtyła took part in the (1962–1965), where he made contributions to two of its most historic and influential products, the Decree on Religious Freedom (in Latin, ) and the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (). Wojtyła and the Polish bishops contributed a draft text to the Council for Gaudium et spes. According to the historian John W. O'Malley, the draft text Gaudium et spes that Wojtyła and the Polish delegation sent "had some influence on the version that was sent to the council fathers that summer but was not accepted as the base text". According to John F. Crosby, as pope, John Paul II used the words of Gaudium et spes later to introduce his own views on the nature of the human person in relation to God: man is "the only creature on earth that God has wanted for its own sake", but man "can fully discover his true self only in a sincere giving of himself".

He also participated in the assemblies of the of Bishops. On 13 January 1964, appointed him Archbishop of Kraków. On 26 June 1967, Paul VI announced Archbishop Karol Wojtyła's promotion to the . Wojtyła was named of the of .

In 1967, he was instrumental in formulating the , which dealt with the same issues that forbid and .

In 1970, according to a contemporary witness, Cardinal Wojtyła was against the distribution of a letter around Kraków, stating that the Polish Episcopate was preparing for the 50th anniversary of the .

In 1973 Cardinal Wojtyła met philosopher , the wife of , Professor of Economy at and , and member of President 's Tymieniecka collaborated with Wojtyła on a number of projects including an English translation of Wojtyła's book (Person and Act). Person and Act, one of Pope John Paul II's foremost literary works, was initially written in Polish. Tymieniecka produced the English-language version. The two of them corresponded over the years, and grew to be good friends. When Wojtyła visited New England, USA in summer 1976, Tymieniecka put him up as a guest in her family home. Wojtyła enjoyed his holiday in , kayaking and enjoying[] as he had done in his beloved Poland.Photos of the two friends on holiday together; skiing, camping and picnicking, show Cardinal Wojtyła in his shorts, in his most relaxed state.

During Wojtyła's visits to Pomfret, Tymieniecka also organised his with the through connections of her husband. These same Cardinals would be the ones who would give him most support at his eventual



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In August 1978, following the death of Pope Paul VI, Cardinal Wojtyła voted in the , which elected . John Paul I died after only 33 days as pope, triggering another conclave.

The second conclave of 1978 started on 14 October, ten days after the funeral. It was split between two strong : , the conservative , and the liberal , , a close friend of John Paul I.

Supporters of Benelli were confident that he would be elected, and in early , Benelli came within nine votes of success. However, both men faced sufficient opposition for neither to be likely to prevail. , the Archbishop of Milan was considered as a compromise candidate among the Italian cardinal-electors, but when he started to receive votes, he announced that, if elected, he would decline to accept the papacy., , suggested to his fellow electors another compromise candidate: the Polish Karol Józef Wojtyła. Wojtyła won on the eighth ballot on the third day 16 October, coincidentally the day that evangelical preacher had just concluded a 10-day pilgrimage to Poland, with, according to the Italian press, 99 votes from the 111 participating electors.

Also among those cardinals who rallied behind Wojtyła were supporters of , , most of the cardinals (led by ), and other cardinals. He accepted his election with these words: "With obedience in faith to Christ, my Lord, and with trust in the Mother of Christ and the Church, in spite of great difficulties, I accept." The pope, in tribute to his immediate predecessor, then took the of John Paul II, also in honour of the late Pope Paul VI, and the traditional white smoke informed the crowd gathered in that a pope had been chosen. There had been rumours that the new pope wished to be known as Pope Stanislaus I in honour of the of the name, but was convinced by the cardinals that it was not a Roman name. When the new pontiff appeared on the balcony, he broke tradition by addressing the gathered crowd:

Dear brothers and sisters, we are saddened at the death of our beloved Pope John Paul I, and so the cardinals have called for a new bishop of Rome. They called him from a faraway land—far and yet always close because of our communion in faith and Christian traditions. I was afraid to accept that responsibility, yet I do so in a spirit of obedience to the Lord and total faithfulness to Mary, our most Holy Mother. I am speaking to you in your—no, our Italian language. If I make a mistake, please '' me ....[deliberately mispronouncing the word 'correct']

Wojtyła became the 264th pope according to the chronological , the first non-Italian in 455 years. At only 58 years of age, he was the youngest pope since in 1846, who was 54. Like his predecessor, John Paul II dispensed with the traditional and instead received ecclesiastical with a simplified on 22 October 1978. During his inauguration, when the cardinals were to kneel before him to take their vows and kiss his ring, he stood up as the Polish prelate Stefan Cardinal Wyszyński knelt down, stopped him from kissing the ring, and simply hugged him.

Pastoral trips

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During his pontificate, Pope John Paul II made trips to 129 countries, travelling more than 1,100,000 kilometres (680,000 mi) while doing so. He consistently attracted large crowds, some among the largest ever assembled in , such as the , which gathered up to four million people, the largest Papal gathering ever, according to the Vatican. John Paul II's earliest official visits were to the Dominican Republic and Mexico in January 1979. While some of his trips (such as to the United States and the ) were to places previously visited by Pope Paul VI, John Paul II became the first pope to visit the in October 1979, where he was by then-President . He was the first pope ever to visit several countries in one year, starting in 1979 with Mexico and . He was the first reigning pope to , in 1982, where he met , the . While in Britain he also visited and knelt in prayer with , the , at the spot where had been killed, as well as holding several large-scale open air masses, including one at , which was attended by some 80,000 people.

He travelled to Haiti in 1983, where he spoke in to thousands of impoverished Catholics gathered to greet him at the airport. His message, "things must change in Haiti," referring to the disparity between the wealthy and the poor, was met with thunderous applause. In 2000, he was the first modern pope to visit Egypt, where he met with the , and the . He was the first Catholic pope to visit and pray in an Islamic mosque, in , Syria, in 2001. He visited the , a former where is believed to be interred, where he made a speech calling for Muslims, Christians and Jews to live together.

On 15 January 1995, during the X World Youth Day, he offered to an estimated crowd of between five and seven million in ,, Philippines, which was considered to be the largest single gathering in . In March 2000, while visiting , John Paul became the first pope in history to visit and pray at the . In September 2001, amid post- concerns, he travelled to Kazakhstan, with an audience largely consisting of Muslims, and to Armenia, to participate in the celebration of 1,700 years of .

In June 1979, Pope John Paul II travelled to Poland, where ecstatic crowds constantly surrounded him. This first papal trip to Poland uplifted the nation's spirit and sparked the formation of the movement in 1980, which later brought freedom and to his troubled homeland. Poland's Communist leaders intended to use the pope's visit to show the people that although the pope was Polish it did not alter their capacity to govern, oppress, and distribute the goods of society. They also hoped that if the pope abided by the rules they set, that the Polish people would see his example and follow them as well. If the pope's visit inspired a riot, the Communist leaders of Poland were prepared to crush the uprising and blame the suffering on the pope.

The pope won that struggle by transcending politics. His was what calls '' — the power of attraction and repulsion. He began with an enormous advantage, and exploited it to the utmost: He headed the one institution that stood for the polar opposite of the Communist way of life that the Polish people hated. He was a Pole, but beyond the regime's reach. By identifying with him, Poles would have the chance to cleanse themselves of the compromises they had to make to live under the regime. And so they came to him by the millions. They listened. He told them to be good, not to compromise themselves, to stick by one another, to be fearless, and that God is the only source of goodness, the only standard of conduct. 'Be not afraid,' he said. Millions shouted in response, 'We want God! We want God! We want God!' The regime cowered. Had the Pope chosen to turn his soft power into the hard variety, the regime might have been drowned in blood. Instead, the Pope simply led the Polish people to desert their rulers by affirming solidarity with one another. The Communists managed to hold on as despots a decade longer. But as political leaders, they were finished. Visiting his native Poland in 1979, Pope John Paul II struck what turned out to be a mortal blow to its Communist regime, to the Soviet Empire, [and] ultimately to Communism."

According to , one of the most influential historians of the , the trip led to the formation of Solidarity and would begin the process of Communism's demise in Eastern Europe:

When Pope John Paul II kissed the ground at the Warsaw airport he began the process by which Communism in Poland—and ultimately elsewhere in Europe—would come to an end.

On later trips to Poland, he gave tacit support to the organisation. These visits reinforced this message and contributed to the collapse of East European Communism that took place between 1989/1990 with the reintroduction of democracy in Poland, and which then spread through Eastern Europe (1990–1991) and South-Eastern Europe (1990–1992).


As pope, John Paul II wrote and taught about sexuality in what is referred as the "". Some key elements of his strategy to "reposition the Catholic Church" were encyclicals such as , and . In his At the beginning of the new millennium (), he emphasised the importance of "starting afresh from Christ": "No, we shall not be saved by a formula but by a Person." In The Splendour of the Truth (), he emphasised 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 (On the Relationship between Faith and Reason) John Paul promoted a renewed interest in philosophy and an autonomous pursuit of truth in theological matters. Drawing on many different sources (such as Thomism), he described the mutually supporting relationship between , and emphasised that theologians should focus on that relationship. John Paul II wrote extensively about workers and the of the Church, which he discussed in three encyclicals: , , and . Through his encyclicals and many and Exhortations, John Paul II talked about the of women and the importance of the family for the future of humanity. Other encyclicals include The Gospel of Life () and Ut Unum Sint (That They May Be One). Though critics accused him of inflexibility in explicitly re-asserting Catholic moral teachings against and that have been in place for well over a thousand years, he urged a more nuanced view of . In his second encyclical he stressed that is the greatest feature of , needed especially in modern times.

Moral stances

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During a visit to Germany, 1980

John Paul II was considered a conservative on and issues relating to human and the ordination of women.

While he was visiting the United States in 1977, the year before becoming pope, Wojtyla said: "All human life, from the moments of conception and through all subsequent stages, is sacred."

A series of 129 lectures given by John Paul II during his Wednesday audiences in Rome between September 1979 and November 1984 were later compiled and published as a single work titled , an extended meditation on . He extended it to the condemnation of abortion, euthanasia and virtually all , calling them all a part of the "" that is pervasive in the modern world. He campaigned for world debt forgiveness and . He coined the term "", which related that all private property had a social dimension, namely, that "the goods of this are originally meant for all." In 2000, he publicly endorsed the campaign on African fronted by Irish rock stars and , once famously interrupting a recording session by telephoning the studio and asking to speak to Bono.

Pope John Paul II, who was present and very influential at the 1962–65 , affirmed the teachings of that Council and did much to implement them. Nevertheless, his critics often wished 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; for example, they still condemned abortion as an unspeakable crime. Pope John Paul II continued to declare that contraception, abortion, and homosexual acts were gravely sinful, and, with Joseph Ratzinger (future ), opposed .

Following the Church's exaltation of the marital act of sexual intercourse between a baptised man and woman within sacramental marriage as proper and exclusive to the of marriage, John Paul II believed that it was, in every instance, profaned by contraception, abortion, divorce followed by a 'second' marriage, and by homosexual acts. In 1994, John Paul II asserted the Church's lack of authority to ordain women to the priesthood, stating that without such authority 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. 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.

Apartheid in South Africa

Pope John Paul II was an outspoken opponent of . In 1985, while visiting the , he gave an impassioned speech condemning apartheid at the , proclaiming that "No system of apartheid or separate development will ever be acceptable as a model for the relations between peoples or races." In September 1988, Pope John Paul II made a pilgrimage to ten Southern African countries, including those bordering South Africa, while demonstratively avoiding South Africa. During his visit to , John Paul II called for economic sanctions against South Africa's government. After John Paul II's death, both and praised the pope for defending human rights and condemning economic injustice.

Capital punishment

Pope John Paul II was an outspoken opponent of the , although previous popes had accepted the practice. At a papal mass in , in the he said:

A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil. Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform. I renew the appeal I made most recently at Christmas for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary.

During that visit, John Paul II convinced the then of Missouri, , to reduce the death sentence of convicted murderer Darrell J. Mease to life imprisonment without parole. John Paul II's other attempts to reduce the sentence of inmates were unsuccessful. In 1983, John Paul II visited and unsuccessfully asked the country's president, , to reduce the sentence for six left-wing guerrillas sentenced to death.

In 2002, John Paul II again travelled to Guatemala. At that time, Guatemala was one of only two countries in (the other being ) to apply capital punishment. John Paul II asked the Guatemalan president, , for a moratorium on executions.

European Union

Pope John Paul II pushed for a reference to Europe's Christian cultural roots in the draft of the . In his 2003 Ecclesia in Europa, John Paul II wrote that he "fully (respected) the secular nature of (European) institutions". However, he wanted the EU Constitution to enshrine religious rights, including acknowledging the rights of religious groups to organise freely, recognise the specific identity of each denomination and allow for a "structured dialogue" between each religious community and the EU, and extend across the European Union the legal status enjoyed by religious institutions in individual member states. "I wish once more to appeal to those drawing up the future European Constitutional Treaty so that it will include a reference to the religion and in particular to the Christian heritage of Europe," John Paul II said. The pope's desire for a reference to Europe's Christian identity in the Constitution was supported by non-Catholic representatives of the and from , , and . John Paul II's demand to include a reference to Europe's Christian roots in the European Constitution was supported by some non-Christians, such as , a practising and renowned constitutional lawyer, who said that the Constitution's lack of a reference to Christianity was not a "demonstration of neutrality," but, rather, "a Jacobin attitude".

At the same time, however, John Paul II was an enthusiastic supporter of ; in particular, he supported his native Poland's entry into the bloc. On 19 May 2003, three weeks before a referendum was held in Poland on EU membership, the Polish pope addressed his compatriots and urged them to vote for Poland's EU membership at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City State. While some conservative, Catholic politicians in Poland opposed EU membership, John Paul II said:

I know that there are many in opposition to integration. I appreciate their concern about maintaining the cultural and religious identity of our nation. However, I must emphasise that Poland has always been an important part of Europe. Europe needs Poland. The Church in Europe needs the Poles' testimony of faith. Poland needs Europe.

The Polish pope compared Poland's entry into the EU to the , which was signed in 1564 and united the and the into one nation and created an elective monarchy.


On 22 October 1996, in a speech to the at the Vatican, John Paul II said of evolution that "this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge. The convergence, neither sought nor fabricated, of the results of work that was conducted independently is in itself a significant argument in favour of this theory." John Paul II's embrace of evolution was enthusiastically praised by American palaeontologist and evolutionary biologist , with whom he had an audience in 1984.

Although generally accepting the theory of evolution, John Paul II made one major exception—the . "If the human body has its origin in living material which pre-exists it, the spiritual soul is immediately created by God."

Iraq War

In 2003 John Paul II criticised the , saying in his State of the World address "No to war! War is not always inevitable. It is always a defeat for humanity." He sent , the former , to talk with , the , 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 and a violation of . The pope's opposition to the Iraq War led to him being a candidate to win the 2003 , which was ultimately awarded to attorney/judge and noted human rights advocate, .

Liberation theology

In 1984 and 1986, through Cardinal Ratzinger (future ) as , John Paul II officially condemned aspects of liberation theology, which had many followers in South America. Visiting Europe, unsuccessfully attempted to obtain a Vatican condemnation of El Salvador's regime, for violations of human rights and its support of . In his travel to , Nicaragua, in 1983, John Paul II harshly condemned what he dubbed the "popular Church" (i.e. "" supported by the ), and the Nicaraguan clergy's tendencies to support the leftist , reminding the clergy of their duties of obedience to the . During that visit , a priest and minister in the Sandinista government, knelt to kiss his hand. John Paul withdrew it, wagged his finger in Cardenal's face, and told him, "You must straighten out your position with the church."

Organised crime

Pope John Paul II was the first pontiff to actively fight against violence in . In 1993, during a pilgrimage to , , he appealed to the Mafiosi: "I say to those responsible: 'Convert! One day, the judgment of God will arrive!'" In 1994, John Paul II visited and told victims of Mafia violence to "rise up and cloak yourself in light and justice!" In 1995, the Mafia bombed two historical churches in . Some believed that this was the mob's against the pope for his denunciations of organised crime.

Persian Gulf War

Between 1990 and 1991, a 34-nation coalition led by the United States waged a war against 's Iraq, which had invaded and annexed . Pope John Paul II was a staunch opponent of the . Throughout the conflict, he appealed to the international community to stop the war, and after it was over led diplomatic initiatives to negotiate peace in the Middle East. In his 1991 encyclical Centesimus Annus, John Paul II harshly condemned the conflict:

No, never again war, which destroys the lives of innocent people, teaches how to kill, throws into upheaval even the lives of those who do the killing and leaves behind a trail of resentment and hatred, thus making it all the more difficult to find a just solution of the very problems which provoked the war.

In April 1991, during his Sunday message at , John Paul II called for the international community to "lend an ear" to "the long-ignored aspirations of oppressed peoples". He specifically named the , a people who were fighting a civil war against Saddam Hussein's troops in Iraq, as one such people, and referred to the war as a "darkness menacing the earth". During this time, the Vatican had expressed its frustration with the international ignoring of the pope's calls for peace in the Middle East.

Rwandan genocide

John Paul II was the first world leader to the massacre by of in the mostly Catholic country of Rwanda, which started in 1990 and reached its height in 1994. He called for a ceasefire and condemned the massacres on 10 April and 15 May 1990. In 1995, during his third visit to before an audience of 300,000, John Paul II pleaded for an end to the violence in and , pleading for forgiveness and reconciliation as a solution to the genocide. He told Rwandan and Burundian refugees that he "was close to them and shared their immense pain". He said:

What is happening in your countries is a terrible tragedy that must end. During the African Synod, we, the pastors of the church, felt the duty to express our consternation and to launch an appeal for forgiveness and reconciliation. This is the only way to dissipate the threats of ethnocentrism that are hovering over Africa these days and that have so brutally touched Rwanda and Burundi.

Views on sexuality

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While taking a traditional position on human sexuality, maintaining the Church's moral opposition to homosexual acts, John Paul II asserted that people with homosexual inclinations possess the same inherent dignity and rights as everybody else. In his book Memory and Identity he referred to the "strong pressures" by the to recognise homosexual unions as an alternative type of family, with the right to adopt children. In the book, as quoted by , he wrote: "It is legitimate and necessary to ask oneself if this is not perhaps part of a new ideology of evil, more subtle and hidden, perhaps, intent upon exploiting human rights themselves against man and against the family." A 1997 study determined that 3% of the pope's statements were about the issue of sexual morality.

Reform of canon law

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John Paul II completed a full-scale reform of the Catholic Church's legal system, Latin and Eastern, and a reform of the Roman Curia.

On 18 October 1990, when promulgating the , John Paul II stated

By the publication of this Code, the canonical ordering of the whole Church is thus at length completed, following as it does...the "" of 1988, which is added to both Codes as the primary instrument of the Roman Pontiff for 'the communion that binds together, as it were, the whole Church'

In 1998 Pope John Paul II issued the , which amended two canons (750 and 1371) of the 1983 Code of Canon Law and two canons (598 and 1436) of the 1990 Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

1983 Code of Canon Law

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On 25 January 1983, with the Apostolic Constitution John Paul II promulgated the current Code of Canon Law for all members of the Catholic Church who belonged to the . It entered into force the first Sunday of the following , which was 27 November 1983. John Paul II described the new Code as "the last document of Vatican II". has referred to the 1983 Code as the "Johanno-Pauline Code" (Johannes Paulus is Latin for "John Paul"), paralleling the that it replaced.

Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches

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Pope John Paul II promulgated the (CCEO) on 18 October 1990, by the document Sacri Canones. The CCEO came into force of law on 1 October 1991. It is the codification of the common portions of the for the 23 of the 24 churches in the that are the . It is divided into 30 titles and has a total of 1540 canons.

Pastor Bonus

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John Paul II promulgated the on 28 June 1988. It instituted a number of reforms in the process of running the . Pastor Bonus laid out in considerable detail the organisation of the Roman Curia, specifying precisely the names and composition of each dicastery, and enumerating the competencies of each . It replaced the previous special law, Regimini Ecclesiæ universæ, which was promulgated by Paul VI in 1967.

Catechism of the Catholic Church

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On 11 October 1992, in his Fidei depositum (The Deposit of Faith), John Paul ordered the publication of the .

He declared the publication to be "a sure norm for teaching the faith … a sure and authentic reference text for teaching Catholic doctrine and particularly for preparing local catechisms". It was "meant to encourage and assist in the writing of new local catechisms [both applicable and faithful]" rather than replacing them.

Role in the collapse of dictatorships

Pope John Paul II has been credited with inspiring political change that not only led to the collapse of Communism in his native Poland and eventually all of Eastern Europe, but also in many countries ruled by dictators. In the words of , John Paul II's press secretary:

The single fact of John Paul II's election in 1978 changed everything. In Poland, everything began. Not in East Germany or Czechoslovakia. Then the whole thing spread. Why in 1980 did they lead the way in Gdansk? Why did they decide, now or never? Only because there was a Polish pope. He was in Chile and Pinochet was out. He was in Haiti and Duvalier was out. He was in the Philippines and Marcos was out. On many of those occasions, people would come here to the Vatican thanking the Holy Father for changing things.


Before John Paul II's pilgrimage to Latin America, during a meeting with reporters, he criticised 's regime as "dictatorial". In the words of , he used "unusually strong language" to criticise Pinochet and asserted to journalists that the Church in Chile must not only pray, but actively fight for the restoration of democracy in Chile.

During his visit to Chile in 1987, John Paul II asked Chile's 31 Catholic bishops to campaign for free elections in the country. According to and Cardinal , he encouraged Pinochet to accept a democratic opening of the regime, and may even have called for his resignation According to Monsignor Sławomir Oder, the postulator of John Paul II's cause, John Paul's words to Pinochet had a profound impact on the Chilean dictator. The pope confided to a friend: "I received a letter from Pinochet in which he told me that as a Catholic he had listened to my words, he had accepted them, and he had decided to begin the process to change the leadership of his country."

During his visit to Chile, John Paul II supported the , the Church-led pro-democracy, anti-Pinochet organisation. John Paul II visited the Vicariate of Solidarity's offices, spoke with its workers, and "called upon them to continue their work, emphasizing that the Gospel consistently urges respect for human rights". While in Chile, Pope John Paul II made gestures of public support of Chile's anti-Pinochet democratic opposition. For instance, he hugged and kissed , a young student who had been nearly burned to death by Chilean police and told her that "We must pray for peace and justice in Chile." Later, he met with several opposition groups, including those that had been declared illegal by Pinochet's government. The opposition praised John Paul II for denouncing Pinochet as a "dictator", for many members of Chile's opposition were persecuted for much milder statements. Bishop , one of the harshest critics of Pinochet's dictatorship within the Chilean Church, praised John Paul II's stance during the papal visit: "I am quite moved, because our pastor supports us totally. Never again will anyone be able to say that we are interfering in politics when we defend human dignity." He added: "No country the Pope has visited has remained the same after his departure. The Pope's visit is a mission, an extraordinary social catechism, and his stay here will be a watershed in Chilean history."

Some have erroneously accused John Paul II of affirming Pinochet's regime by appearing with the Chilean ruler in public. However, Cardinal , the organiser of John Paul II's visits, revealed that Pinochet tricked the pontiff by telling him he would take him to his living room, while in reality he took him to his balcony. Tucci claims that the pontiff was "furious".


Pope John Paul II visited on 9 March 1983, when the country was ruled by . He bluntly criticised the poverty of the country, directly addressing and his wife, in front of a large crowd of Haitians:

Yours is a beautiful country, rich in human resources, but Christians cannot be unaware of the injustice, the excessive inequality, the degradation of the quality of life, the misery, the hunger, the fear suffered by the majority of the people.

John Paul II spoke in French and occasionally in Creole, and in the homily outlined the basic human rights that most Haitians lacked: "the opportunity to eat enough, to be cared for when ill, to find housing, to study, to overcome illiteracy, to find worthwhile and properly paid work; all that provides a truly human life for men and women, for young and old." Following John Paul II's pilgrimage, the Haitian opposition to Duvalier frequently reproduced and quoted the pope's message. Shortly before leaving Haiti, John Paul II called for social change in Haiti by saying: "Lift up your heads, be conscious of your dignity of men created in God's image...."

John Paul II's visit inspired massive protests against the Duvalier dictatorship. In response to the visit, 860 Catholic priests and Church workers signed a statement committing the Church to work on behalf of the poor. In 1986, Duvalier was deposed in an uprising.


The collapse of the dictatorship of General of Paraguay was linked, among other things, to Pope John Paul II's visit to the South American country in 1989. Since Stroessner's taking power through a in 1954, Paraguay's bishops increasingly criticised the regime for human rights abuses, rigged elections, and the country's feudal economy. During his private meeting with Stroessner, John Paul II told the dictator:

Politics has a fundamental ethical dimension because it is first and foremost a service to man. The Church can and must remind men—and in particular those who govern—of their ethical duties for the good of the whole of society. The Church cannot be isolated inside its temples just as men's consciences cannot be isolated from God.

Later, during a Mass, Pope John Paul II criticised the regime for impoverishing the peasants and the unemployed, claiming that the government must give people greater access to the land. Although Stroessner tried to prevent him from doing so, Pope John Paul II met opposition leaders in the one-party state.

Role in the fall of Communism

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John Paul II has been credited with being instrumental in bringing down Communism in Central and Eastern Europe, by being the spiritual inspiration behind its downfall and catalyst for "a peaceful revolution" in Poland. , the founder of and the first post-Communist , credited John Paul II with giving Poles the courage to demand change. According to Wałęsa, "Before his pontificate, the world was divided into blocs. Nobody knew how to get rid of Communism. In , in 1979, he simply said: 'Do not be afraid', and later prayed: 'Let your Spirit descend and change the image of the land … this land'." It has also been widely alleged that the covertly funded Solidarity.

US President 's correspondence with the pope reveals "a continuous scurrying to shore up Vatican support for U.S. policies. Perhaps most surprisingly, the papers show that, as late as 1984, the pope did not believe the Communist Polish government could be changed."

The British historian , who describes himself as an "agnostic liberal", said shortly after John Paul II's death:

No one can prove conclusively that he was a primary cause of the end of communism. However, the major figures on all sides—not just Lech Wałęsa, the Polish Solidarity leader, but also Solidarity's arch-opponent, General ; not just the former American president but also the former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev—now agree that he was. I would argue the historical case 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.

Graffiti showing Pope John Paul II with quote "Do not be afraid" in ,

In December 1989, John Paul II met with the Soviet leader at the Vatican and each expressed his respect and admiration for the other. Gorbachev once said "The collapse of the would have been impossible without John Paul II." On John Paul II's death, Mikhail Gorbachev said: "Pope John Paul II's devotion to his followers is a remarkable example to all of us."

On 4 June 2004 US President presented the , the United States' highest civilian honour, to John Paul II during a ceremony at the . The president read the citation that accompanied the medal, which recognised "this son of Poland" whose "principled stand for peace and freedom has inspired millions and helped to topple communism and tyranny". After receiving the award, John Paul II said, "May the desire for freedom, peace, a more humane world symbolised by this medal inspire men and women of goodwill in every time and place."

Communist attempt to humiliate John Paul II

In 1983 Poland's Communist government unsuccessfully tried to humiliate John Paul II by falsely saying he had fathered an illegitimate child. Section D of (SB), the security service, had an action named "Triangolo" to carry out criminal operations against the Catholic Church; the operation encompassed all Polish hostile actions against the pope. Captain Grzegorz Piotrowski, one of the murderers of , was the leader of section D. They drugged Irena Kinaszewska, the secretary of the Kraków-based weekly Catholic magazine Tygodnik Powszechny where Karol Wojtyła had worked, and unsuccessfully attempted to make her admit to having had sexual relations with him.

The SB then attempted to compromise Cracow priest Andrzej Bardecki, an editor of Tygodnik Powszechny and one of the closest friends of Cardinal Karol Wojtyła before he became pope, by planting false memoirs in his dwelling, but Piotrowski was exposed and the forgeries were found and destroyed before the SB could "discover" them.

Relations with other denominations and religions

John Paul II travelled extensively and met with believers from many divergent faiths. At the , held in on 27 October 1986, more than 120 representatives of different religions and spent a day of fasting and prayer.


John Paul II had good relations with the . He was the first reigning pope to travel to the , in 1982, where he met , the . He preached in and received , the . He said that he was disappointed by the Church of England's decision to and saw it as a step away from unity between the and the Catholic Church.

In 1980 John Paul II issued a allowing married former Episcopal priests to become Catholic priests, and for the acceptance of former parishes into the Catholic Church. He allowed the creation of the form of the , which incorporates the Anglican . He helped establish , together with Archbishop of , Texas, as the inaugural parish for the Anglican Use liturgy.


In his book-length interview with the Italian journalist published in 1995, John Paul II draws parallels between and Christianity. He says:

… it would be helpful to recall … the animist religions which stress ancestor worship. It seems that those who practice them are particularly close to Christianity, and among them, the Church's missionaries also find it easier to speak a common language. Is there, perhaps, in this veneration of ancestors a kind of preparation for the Christian faith in the Communion of Saints, in which all believers—whether living or dead—form a single community, a single body? […] There is nothing strange, then, that the African and Asian animists would become believers in Christ more easily than followers of the great religions of the Far East.

In 1985, the pope visited the African country of , where 60 per cent of the population espouses animist beliefs. To honour the pope, animist religious leaders met him at a Catholic Marian shrine in the forest, much to the pontiff's delight. John Paul II proceeded to call for the need for religious tolerance, praised nature, and emphasised common elements between animism and Christianity, saying:

Nature, exuberant and splendid in this area of forests and lakes, impregnates spirits and hearts with its mystery and orients them spontaneously toward the mystery of He who is the author of life. It is this religious sentiment that animates you and one can say that animates all of your compatriots.

During the investiture of President of as a titled on 20 December 2008, the reigning Ooni of , , , referred to Pope John Paul II as a previous recipient of the same royal honour.

Armenian Apostolic Church

John Paul II had good relations with the . In 1996, he brought the Catholic Church and the Armenian Church closer by agreeing with Armenian Archbishop on Christ's nature. During an audience in 2000, John Paul II and , by then the , issued a joint statement condemning the . Meanwhile, the pope gave Karekin the relics of , the first head of the Armenian Church that had been kept in , , for 500 years. In September 2001, John Paul II went on a three-day pilgrimage to to take part in an ecumenical celebration with in the newly consecrated St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral in Yerevan. The two Church leaders signed a declaration remembering the victims of the Armenian genocide.


Tenzin Gyatso, the , visited John Paul II eight times. The two men held many similar views and understood similar plights, both coming from nations affected by Communism and both serving as heads of major religious bodies. As Archbishop of Kraków, long before the 14th Dalai Lama was a world-famous figure, Wojtyła held special Masses to pray for the Tibetan people's non-violent struggle for freedom from . During his 1995 visit to , a country where a majority of the population adheres to , John Paul II expressed his admiration for Buddhism:

In particular I express my highest regard for the followers of Buddhism, the majority religion in Sri Lanka, with its … four great values of … loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity; with its ten transcendental virtues and the joys of the expressed so beautifully in the Theragathas. I ardently hope that my visit will serve to strengthen the goodwill between us, and that it will reassure everyone of the Catholic Church's desire for interreligious dialogue and cooperation in building a more just and fraternal world. To everyone I extend the hand of friendship, recalling the splendid words of the : "Better than a thousand useless words is one single word that gives peace...."

Eastern Orthodox Church

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In May 1999, John Paul II visited Romania on the invitation from Patriarch of the . This was the first time a pope had visited a predominantly Eastern Orthodox country since the in 1054. On his arrival, the Patriarch and the , , 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."

On 23–27 June 2001 John Paul II visited Ukraine, another heavily Orthodox nation, at the invitation of the and bishops of the . The Pope spoke to leaders of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organisations, pleading for "open, tolerant and honest dialogue". About 200 thousand people attended the liturgies celebrated by the Pope in , and the liturgy in gathered nearly one and a half million faithful. John Paul II said that an end to the Great Schism was one of his fondest wishes. Healing divisions between the Catholic and regarding Latin and traditions was clearly of great personal interest. For many years, John Paul II sought to facilitate dialogue and unity stating as early as 1988 in Euntes in mundum, "Europe has two lungs, it will never breathe easily until it uses both of them."

During his 2001 travels, John Paul II became the first pope to visit Greece in 1291 years. In , the pope met with , the head of the . After a private 30-minute meeting, the two spoke publicly. Christodoulos read a list of "13 offences" of the Catholic Church against the Eastern Orthodox Church since the Great Schism, including the pillaging of in 1204, and bemoaned the lack of apology from the Catholic Church, saying "Until now, there has not been heard a single request for pardon" for the "maniacal crusaders of the 13th century".

The pope responded by saying "For the occasions past and present, when sons and daughters of the Catholic Church have sinned by action or omission against their Orthodox brothers and sisters, may the Lord grant us forgiveness", to which Christodoulos immediately applauded. John Paul II said that the sacking of Constantinople was a source of "profound regret" for Catholics. Later John Paul II and Christodoulos met on a spot where had once preached to Athenian Christians. They issued a 'common declaration', saying "We shall do everything in our power, so that the Christian roots of Europe and its Christian soul may be preserved.... We condemn all recourse to violence, proselytism and fanaticism, in the name of religion." The two leaders then said the together, breaking an Orthodox taboo against praying with Catholics.

The pope had said throughout his pontificate that one of his greatest dreams was to visit Russia, but this never occurred. He attempted to solve the problems that had arisen over centuries between the Catholic and churches, and in 2004 gave them a 1730 copy of the lost icon of .


John Paul II was the first Pope to enter and pray in a mosque, visiting the tomb of John the Baptist at Damascus' .

John Paul II made considerable efforts to improve relations between Catholicism and Islam.

On 6 May 2001 he became the first Catholic pope to enter and pray in a mosque, namely the in , Syria. Respectfully removing his shoes, he entered the former Christian church dedicated to , who is also revered as a prophet of Islam. He 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 kissed the in Syria, an act that made him popular among Muslims but that disturbed many Catholics.

In 2004 John Paul II hosted the "", which brought together leaders of Islam with leaders of the Jewish community and of the Catholic Church at the Vatican for a concert by the Kraków Philharmonic Choir from Poland, the from the United Kingdom, the from the United States, and the Ankara State Polyphonic Choir of Turkey. The event was conceived and conducted by Sir , and was broadcast throughout the world.

John Paul II oversaw the publication of the , which makes a special provision for Muslims; therein, it is written, "together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day."


In 1995, Pope John Paul II held a meeting with 21 , a sect that broke away from mainstream Hinduism in 600 BC, organised by the . He praised for his "unshakeable faith in God", assured the Jains that the Catholic Church will continue to engage in dialogue with their religion and spoke of the common need to aid the poor. The Jain leaders were impressed with the pope's "transparency and simplicity", and the meeting received much attention in the state in western India, home to many Jains.


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improved dramatically during the pontificate of John Paul II. He spoke frequently about the Church's relationship with the Jewish faith.

In 1979 John Paul II visited the in Poland, where many of his compatriots (mostly ) had perished during the Nazi occupation in World War II, the first pope to do so. In 1998 he issued We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah, which outlined his thinking on . He became the first pope known to have made an official papal visit to a synagogue, when he visited the on 13 April 1986.

On 30 December 1993 John Paul II established formal diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the State of Israel, acknowledging its centrality in Jewish life and faith.

On 7 April 1994 he hosted the . It was the first-ever Vatican event dedicated to the memory of the six million Jews murdered in World War II. This concert, which was conceived and conducted by American conductor Gilbert Levine, was attended by the Chief Rabbi of Rome , the President of Italy , and survivors of the Holocaust from around the world. The , actor Richard Dreyfuss and cellist Lynn Harrell performed on this occasion under Levine's direction. On the morning of the concert, the pope received the attending members of survivor community in a special audience in the Apostolic Palace.

In March 2000 John Paul II visited , the national Holocaust memorial in Israel, and later made history by touching one of the holiest sites in Judaism, the Western Wall in Jerusalem, placing a letter inside it (in which he prayed for forgiveness for the actions against Jews). In part of his address he said: "I assure the Jewish people the Catholic Church … is deeply saddened by the hatred, acts of persecution and displays of anti-Semitism directed against the Jews by Christians at any time and in any place," he added that there were "no words strong enough to deplore the terrible tragedy of the Holocaust." minister Rabbi , who hosted the pope's visit, said he was "very moved" by the pope's gesture.

It was beyond history, beyond memory.

We are deeply saddened by the behaviour of those who in the course of history have caused these children of yours to suffer, and asking your forgiveness we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the people of the Covenant.

In October 2003, the (ADL) issued a statement congratulating John Paul II on entering the 25th year of his papacy. In January 2005, John Paul II became the first pope known to receive a from a rabbi, when Rabbis , Barry Dov Schwartz, and Jack Bemporad visited the Pontiff at in the Apostolic Palace.

Immediately after John Paul II's death, the ADL said in a statement that he had revolutionised Catholic-Jewish relations, saying, "more change for the better took place in his 27-year Papacy than in the nearly 2,000 years before." In another statement issued by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, Director Dr Colin Rubenstein said, "The Pope will be remembered for his inspiring spiritual leadership in the cause of freedom and humanity. He achieved far more in terms of with both the Jewish people and the State of Israel than any other figure in the history of the Catholic Church."

With Judaism, therefore, we have a relationship which we do not have with any other religion. You are our dearly beloved brothers, and in a certain way, it could be said that you are our elder brothers.

In an interview with the Polish Press Agency, , chief rabbi of Poland, said that never in history did anyone do as much for Christian-Jewish dialogue as Pope John Paul II, adding that many Jews had a greater respect for the late pope than for some rabbis. Schudrich praised John Paul II for condemning anti-Semitism as a sin, which no previous pope had done.

On John Paul II's beatification the Chief Rabbi of Rome said in an interview with the Vatican newspaper that "John Paul II was revolutionary because he tore down a thousand-year wall of Catholic distrust of the Jewish world." Meanwhile, Elio Toaff, the former Chief Rabbi of Rome, said that:

Remembrance of the Pope Karol Wojtyła will remain strong in the collective Jewish memory because of his appeals to fraternity and the spirit of tolerance, which excludes all violence. In the stormy history of relations between Roman popes and Jews in the ghetto in which they were closed for over three centuries in humiliating circumstances, John Paul II is a bright figure in his uniqueness. In relations between our two great religions in the new century that was stained with bloody wars and the plague of racism, the heritage of John Paul II remains one of the few spiritual islands guaranteeing survival and human progress.


From 15 to 19 November 1980, John Paul II visited on his first trip to a country with a large population. In , he met with leaders of the , and with representatives of other Christian denominations.

On 11 December 1983, John Paul II participated in an ecumenical service in the , the first papal visit ever to a Lutheran church. The visit took place 500 years after the birth of , the German monk who initiated the .

In his apostolic pilgrimage to Norway, Iceland, Finland, Denmark and Sweden of June 1989, John Paul II became the first pope to visit countries with Lutheran majorities. In addition to celebrating Mass with Catholic believers, he participated in ecumenical services at places that had been Catholic shrines before the Reformation: in Norway; near St. Olav's Church at in Iceland; in Finland; in Denmark; and in Sweden.

On 31 October 1999, (the 482nd anniversary of , Martin Luther's posting of the ), representatives of the Vatican and the (LWF) signed a , as a gesture of unity. The signing was a fruit of a theological dialogue that had been going on between the LWF and the Vatican since 1965.

Assassination attempts and plots

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As he entered St. Peter's Square to address an audience on 13 May 1981,Pope John Paul II was shot and by , an expert Turkish gunman who was a member of the militant fascist group . The assassin used a , shooting the pope in the abdomen and perforating his and multiple times. John Paul II was rushed into the Vatican complex and then to the . On the way to the hospital, he lost consciousness. Even though the two bullets missed his and , he lost nearly three-quarters of his blood. He underwent five hours of surgery to treat his wounds. Surgeons performed a , temporarily rerouting the upper part of the to let the damaged lower part heal. When he briefly regained consciousness before being operated on, he instructed the doctors not to remove his during the operation. One of the few people allowed in to see him at the was one of his closest friends , who arrived on Saturday 16 May and kept him company while he recovered from emergency surgery. The pope later stated that helped keep him alive throughout his ordeal.

Could I forget that the event 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 bullet.

Ağca was caught and restrained by a nun and other bystanders until police arrived. He was sentenced to . Two days after Christmas in 1983, John Paul II visited Ağca in prison. John Paul II and Ağca spoke privately for about twenty 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."

Numerous other theories were advanced to explain the assassination attempt, some of them controversial. One such theory, advanced by and heavily pushed by the at the time of the assassination but never substantiated by evidence, was that the Soviet Union was behind the attempt on John Paul II's life in retaliation for the pope's support of Solidarity, the Catholic, pro-democratic Polish workers' movement. This theory was supported by the 2006 , set up by and headed by senator , which alleged that Communist Bulgarian security departments were utilised to prevent the Soviet Union's role from being uncovered, and concluded that , not the KGB, were responsible. Russian Foreign Intelligence Service spokesman Boris Labusov called the accusation "absurd". The pope declared during a May 2002 visit to Bulgaria that the country's Soviet-bloc-era leadership had nothing to do with the . However, his secretary, Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, alleged in his book A Life with Karol, that the pope was convinced privately that the former Soviet Union was behind the attack. It was later discovered that many of John Paul II's aides had foreign-government attachments; Bulgaria and Russia disputed the Italian commission's conclusions, pointing out that the pope had publicly denied the Bulgarian connection.

A second assassination attempt was made on 12 May 1982, just a day before the anniversary of the first attempt on his life, in , Portugal when a man tried to stab John Paul II with a . He was stopped by security guards. Stanisław Dziwisz later said that John Paul II had been injured during the attempt but managed to hide a non-life-threatening wound. The assailant, a Spanish priest named , had been ordained as a priest by Archbishop of the and was opposed to the changes made by the Second Vatican Council, claiming that the pope was an agent of Communist Moscow and of the Marxist . Fernández y Krohn subsequently left the priesthood and served three years of a six-year sentence. The ex-priest was treated for and then expelled from Portugal to become a solicitor in Belgium.

The -funded planned to kill John Paul II during a visit to the Philippines during World Youth Day 1995 celebrations. On 15 January 1995 a was planning to dress as a priest and detonate a bomb when the pope passed in his on his way to the San Carlos Seminary in . The assassination was supposed to divert attention from the next phase of the operation. However, a chemical fire inadvertently started by the cell alerted police to their whereabouts, and all were arrested a week before the pope's visit, and confessed to the plot.

In 2009 John Koehler, a journalist and former army intelligence officer, published Spies in the Vatican: The Soviet Union's Cold War Against the Catholic Church. Mining mostly East German and Polish secret police archives, Koehler says the assassination attempts were "KGB-backed" and gives details. During John Paul II's papacy there were many within the Vatican who on nomination, declined to be ordained, and then mysteriously left the church. There is wide speculation that they were, in reality, agents.


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John Paul II apologised to many groups that had suffered at the hands of the Catholic Church through the years. Before becoming pope he had been a prominent editor and supporter of initiatives such as the from 1965. As pope, he officially made public apologies for over 100 wrongdoings, including:

  • The legal process on the Italian scientist and philosopher , himself a devout Catholic, around 1633 (31 October 1992).
  • Catholics' involvement with the African chiefs who sold their subjects and captives in the (9 August 1993).
  • The Church Hierarchy's role in and the that followed the (May 1995, in the Czech Republic).
  • The injustices committed against women, the violation of and the historical denigration of women (10 July 1995, in a letter to "every woman").
  • The inactivity and silence of many Catholics during the (see the article ) (16 March 1998).

On 20 November 2001, from a laptop in the Vatican, Pope John Paul II sent his first e-mail apologising for the , the Church-backed "" of Aboriginal children in Australia, and to China for the behaviour of Catholic missionaries in .


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When he became pope in 1978 at the age of 58, John Paul II was an avid sportsman. He was extremely healthy and active, jogging in the , weight training, swimming, and hiking in the mountains. He was fond of football. The media contrasted the new pope's athleticism and trim figure to the poor health of John Paul I and Paul VI, the portliness of and the constant claims of ailments of Pius XII. The only modern pope with a fitness regimen had been (1922–1939), who was an avid mountaineer. An article in the 1980s labelled John Paul II the keep-fit pope.

However, after over twenty-five years as pope, two assassination attempts, one of which injured him severely, and a number of cancer scares, John Paul's physical health declined. In 2001 he was diagnosed as suffering from . International observers had suspected this for some time, but it was only publicly acknowledged by the Vatican in 2003. Despite difficulty speaking more than a few sentences at a time, trouble , and severe , he continued to tour the world although rarely walking in public.

Death and funeral

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Final months

Pope John Paul II was hospitalised with breathing problems caused by a bout of on 1 February 2005. He left the hospital on 10 February, but was subsequently hospitalised again with breathing problems two weeks later and underwent a .

Final illness and death

On 31 March 2005 following a , he developed , a form of infection with a high fever and low , but was not hospitalised. Instead, he was by a team of consultants at his private residence. This was taken as an indication by the pope, and those close to him, 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 by his friend and secretary Stanisław Dziwisz. The day before his death, one of his closest personal friends, visited him at his bedside. 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. Tens of thousands of people assembled and held vigil in St. Peter's Square and the surrounding streets 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 2005, at approximately 15:30 , John Paul II spoke his final words in , "Pozwólcie mi odejść do domu Ojca" ("Allow me to depart to the house of the Father"), to his aides, and fell into a coma about four hours later. The Mass of the vigil of the Second Sunday of Easter commemorating the of Saint Maria Faustina on 30 April 2000, had just been celebrated at his bedside, presided over by Stanisław Dziwisz and two Polish associates. Present at the bedside was a cardinal from Ukraine, who served as a priest with John Paul in Poland, along with Polish nuns of the Congregation of the Sisters Servants of the Most of Jesus, who ran the . Pope John Paul II died in his private apartment at 21:37 CEST (19:37 ) of heart failure from profound and complete from septic shock, 46 days before his 85th birthday. His death was verified when an electrocardiogram that ran for 20 minutes showed a . He had no close family by the time of his death; his feelings are reflected in his words written in 2000 at the end of . Stanisław Dziwisz later said he had not burned the pontiff's personal notes despite the request being part of the will.

(l-r) , , , , , and , US dignitaries paying respects to John Paul II on 6 April 2005 at ,


The death of the pontiff set in motion rituals and traditions dating back to medieval times. The Rite of Visitation took place from 4 April 2005 to 7 April 2005 at St. Peter's Basilica. John Paul II's testament, published on 7 April 2005, revealed that the pontiff contemplated being buried in his native Poland but left the final decision to The College of Cardinals, which in passing, preferred burial beneath St. Peter's Basilica, honouring the pontiff's request to be placed "in bare earth".

The Requiem Mass held on 8 April 2005 was said to have set world records both for attendance and number of present at a funeral.(See: .) It was the single largest gathering of heads of state in history, surpassing the funerals of (1965) and (1980). Four kings, five queens, at least 70 presidents and prime ministers, and more than 14 leaders of other religions attended alongside the faithful. It is likely to have been the largest single of Christianity ever with numbers estimated in excess of four million mourners gathering in and around Vatican City. Between 250,000 and 300,000 watched the event from within the Vatican's walls.

The , Cardinal , conducted the ceremony. John Paul II was interred in the under the basilica, the . He was lowered into a tomb created in the same previously occupied by the remains of . The alcove had been empty since John XXIII's remains had been moved into the main body of the basilica after his beatification.

Posthumous recognition

Title "the Great"

Upon the death of John Paul II, a number of clergy at the Vatican and laymen throughout the world began referring to the late pontiff as "John Paul the Great"—only the fourth pope to be so acclaimed, and the first since the . Scholars of say that there is no official process for declaring a pope "Great"; the title simply establishes itself through popular and continued usage, as was the case with celebrated secular leaders (for example, Alexander III of Macedon became popularly known as ). The three popes who today commonly are known as "Great" are , who reigned from 440–461 and persuaded to withdraw from Rome; , 590–604, after whom the is named; and , 858–867, who consolidated the Catholic Church in the in the .

His successor, Benedict XVI, referred to him as "the great Pope John Paul II" in his first address from the of St. Peter's Basilica, and referred to John Paul as "the Great" in his published written for the pope's funeral .

Since giving his homily at the funeral of Pope John Paul, Pope Benedict XVI continued to refer to John Paul II as "the Great". At the in Germany 2005, 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".

Two newspapers have called him "the Great" or "the Greatest". The Italian newspaper called him "the Greatest"[] and the South African Catholic newspaper, The Southern Cross, called him "John Paul II the Great". Some Catholic institutions changed their names to incorporate "the Great", including and schools called some variant of .

Institutions named after Saint John Paul the Great


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Inspired by calls of "Santo Subito!" ("[Make him a] Saint Immediately!") from the crowds gathered during the funeral Mass that he performed,Benedict XVI began the beatification process for his predecessor, bypassing the normal restriction that five years must pass after a person's death before beginning the beatification process. In an audience with Pope Benedict XVI, , Vicar General of the Diocese of Rome, who was responsible for promoting the cause for canonisation of any person who died within that diocese, cited "exceptional circumstances", which suggested that the waiting period could be waived. This decision was announced on 13 May 2005, the Feast of Our Lady of Fátima and the 24th anniversary of the assassination attempt on John Paul II at St. Peter's Square.

In early 2006 it was reported that the Vatican was investigating a possible associated with John Paul II. , a French nun and member of the Congregation of Little Sisters of Catholic Maternity Wards, confined to her bed by Parkinson's disease, was reported to have experienced a "complete and lasting cure after members of her community prayed for the intercession of Pope John Paul II". As of May 2008, Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre, then 46, was working again at a run by her .

"I was sick and now I am cured," she told reporter Gerry Shaw. "I am cured, but it is up to the church to say whether it was a miracle or not."

On 28 May 2006, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass before an estimated 900,000 people in John Paul II's native Poland. During his , he encouraged prayers for the early canonisation of John Paul II and stated that he hoped canonisation would happen "in the near future".

In January 2007 Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz announced that the interview phase of the beatification process, in Italy and Poland, was nearing completion. In February 2007, of Pope John Paul II—pieces of white papal he used to wear—were freely distributed with prayer cards for the cause, a typical pious practice after a saintly Catholic's death. On 8 March 2007, the announced that the diocesan phase of John Paul's cause for beatification was 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 , to conduct a separate investigation. On the fourth anniversary of Pope John Paul's death, 2 April 2009, Cardinal Dziwisz, told reporters of a presumed miracle that had recently occurred at the former pope's tomb in St. Peter's Basilica. A nine-year-old Polish boy from , who was suffering from kidney cancer and was completely unable to walk, had been visiting the tomb with his parents. On leaving St. Peter's Basilica, the boy told them, "I want to walk," and began walking normally. On 16 November 2009, a panel of reviewers at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints voted unanimously that Pope John Paul II had lived a life of heroic virtue. On 19 December 2009, Pope Benedict XVI signed the first of two decrees needed for beatification and proclaimed John Paul II "Venerable", asserting that he had lived a heroic, virtuous life. The second vote and the second signed decree certifying the authenticity of the first miracle, , a French nun, from Parkinson's disease. Once the second decree is signed, the positio (the report on the cause, with documentation about his life and writings and with information on the cause) is complete. He can then be beatified. Some speculated that he would be beatified sometime during (or soon after) the month of the 32nd anniversary of his 1978 election, in October 2010. As Monsignor Oder noted, this course would have been possible if the second decree were signed in time by Benedict XVI, stating that a posthumous miracle directly attributable to his intercession had occurred, completing the positio.

Candles around monument to Pope John Paul in , Gdańsk at the time of his death

The Vatican announced on 14 January 2011 that Pope Benedict XVI had confirmed the miracle involving Sister Marie Simon-Pierre and that John Paul II was to be beatified on 1 May, the Feast of Divine Mercy. 1 May is commemorated in former communist countries, such as Poland, and some Western European countries as May Day, and John Paul II was well known for his contributions to communism's relatively peaceful demise. In March 2011 the Polish mint issued a gold 1,000 coin (equivalent to US0), with the Pope's image to commemorate his beatification.

On 29 April 2011 John Paul II's coffin was exhumed from the grotto beneath St. Peter's Basilica ahead of his beatification, as tens of thousands of people arrived in Rome for one of the biggest events since his funeral. John Paul II's remains (in a closed coffin) were placed in front of the Basilica's main altar, where believers could pay their respect before and after the beatification mass in St. Peter's Square on 1 May 2011. On 3 May 2011 his remains were reinterred in the marble altar in Pier Paolo Cristofari's Chapel of , where was buried. This more prominent location, next to the Chapel of the Pietà, the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, and statues of Popes Pius XI and Pius XII, was intended to allow more pilgrims to view his memorial.

In July 2012 a man, Marco Fidel Rojas, the former mayor of , testified that he was "miraculously cured" of after a trip to Rome where he met John Paul II and prayed with him. Dr. Antonio Schlesinger Piedrahita, a renowned neurologist in Colombia, has certified Fidel's healing. The documentation has been sent to the Vatican office for sainthood causes.


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The canonisation of John Paul II and John XXIII

To be eligible for canonisation (being declared a saint) by the Catholic Church, two miracles must be attributed to a candidate.

The first miracle attributed to John Paul was his healing a case of Parkinson's disease, which was recognised during the beatification process. According to an article on the Catholic News Service (CNS) dated 23 April 2013, a Vatican commission of doctors concluded that a healing had no natural (medical) explanation, which is the first requirement for a claimed miracle to be officially documented.

The second miracle was deemed to have taken place shortly after the late pope's beatification on 1 May 2011; it was reported to be the healing of Costa Rican woman Floribeth Mora of an otherwise terminal . A Vatican panel of expert theologians examined the evidence, determined that it was directly attributable to the intercession of John Paul II, and recognised it as miraculous. The next stage was for Cardinals who compose the membership of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to give their opinion to to decides whether to sign and promulgate the decree and set a date for canonisation.

On 4 July 2013, Pope Francis confirmed his approval of John Paul II's canonisation, formally recognising the second miracle attributed to his intercession. He was canonised together with Pope John XXIII. The date of the canonisation was on 27 April 2014, Divine Mercy Sunday.

The canonisation Mass for Blessed Popes John Paul II and John XXIII, was celebrated by Pope Francis (with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI), on 27 April 2014 in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican (Pope John Paul had died on of Divine Mercy Sunday in 2005). About 150 cardinals and 700 bishops concelebrated the Mass, and at least 500,000 people attended the Mass, with an estimated 300,000 others watching from video screens placed around Rome.

Criticism and controversy

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John Paul II was widely criticised for a variety of his views, including his opposition to the and use of , his support for the Second Vatican Council and its reform of the , and his response to child sexual abuse within the Church.

Child sex abuse scandals

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John Paul II was criticised by representatives of the victims of clergy sexual abuse for failing to respond quickly enough to the . In his response, he stated that "there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young." The Church instituted reforms to prevent future abuse by requiring background checks for Church employees and, because a significant majority of victims were boys, disallowing ordination of men with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies". They now require dioceses faced with an allegation to alert the authorities, conduct an investigation and remove the accused from duty. In 2008, the Church asserted that the scandal was a very serious problem and estimated that it was "probably caused by 'no more than 1 per cent' " (or 5,000) of the over 500,000 Catholic priests worldwide.

In April 2002, John Paul II, despite being frail from Parkinson's disease, summoned all the American cardinals to the Vatican to discuss possible solutions to the issue of sexual abuse in the American Church. He asked them to "diligently investigate accusations". John Paul II suggested that American bishops be more open and transparent in dealing with such scandals and emphasised the role of seminary training to prevent sexual deviance among future priests. In what The New York Times called "unusually direct language", John Paul condemned the arrogance of priests that led to the scandals:

Priests and candidates for the priesthood often live at a level both materially and educationally superior to that of their families and the members of their own age group. It is therefore very easy for them to succumb to the temptation of thinking of themselves as better than others. When this happens, the ideal of priestly service and self-giving dedication can fade, leaving the priest dissatisfied and disheartened.

The pope read a statement intended for the American cardinals, calling the sex abuse "an appalling sin" and said the priesthood had no room for such men.

In 2002, Archbishop , the Catholic Archbishop of , was accused of molesting seminarians.Pope John Paul II accepted his resignation, and placed sanctions on him, prohibiting Paetz from exercising his ministry as bishop. These restrictions were lifted in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI.

In 2003 John Paul II reiterated that "there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young." In April 2003, a three-day conference was held, titled "Abuse of Children and Young People by Catholic Priests and Religious", where eight non-Catholic psychiatric experts were invited to speak to near all Vatican dicasteries' representatives. The panel of experts overwhelmingly opposed implementation of policies of "zero-tolerance" such as was proposed by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. One expert called such policies a "case of overkill" since they do not permit flexibility to allow for differences among individual cases.

In 2004 John Paul II recalled to be Archpriest of the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome. Law had previously resigned as in 2002 in response to the after Church documents were revealed that suggested he had covered up sexual abuse committed by priests in his archdiocese. Law resigned from this position in November 2011.

John Paul II was a firm supporter of the , and in 1998 discontinued investigations into , who in 2005 resigned his leadership and was later requested by the Vatican to withdraw from his ministry.

Opus Dei controversies

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John Paul II was criticised for his support of the prelature and the 2002 canonisation of its founder, , whom he called 'the saint of ordinary life.' Other movements and religious organisations of the Church went decidedly under his wing , the , , the , etc.) and he was accused repeatedly of taking a soft hand with them, especially in the case of , founder of the Legion of Christ.

In 1984 John Paul II appointed Joaquín Navarro-Valls, a member of Opus Dei, as Director of the . An Opus Dei spokesman says "the influence of Opus Dei in the Vatican has been exaggerated." Of the nearly 200 cardinals in the Catholic Church, only two are known to be members of Opus Dei.

Banco Ambrosiano scandal

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Pope John Paul was alleged to have links with , an Italian bank that collapsed in 1982. At the centre of the bank's failure was its chairman, , and his membership in the illegal (aka P2). The Vatican Bank was Banco Ambrosiano's main shareholder, and the death of Pope John Paul I in 1978 is rumoured to be linked to the Ambrosiano scandal.

Calvi, often referred to as "God's Banker", was also involved the Vatican Bank, , in his dealings, and was close to Bishop , the bank's chairman. Ambrosiano also provided funds for political parties in Italy, and for both the dictatorship in Nicaragua and its Sandinista opposition. It has been widely alleged that the Vatican Bank provided money for in Poland.

Calvi used his complex network of overseas banks and companies to move money out of Italy, to inflate share prices, and to arrange massive unsecured loans. In 1978, the produced a report on Ambrosiano that predicted future disaster. On 5 June 1982, two weeks before the collapse of Banco Ambrosiano, Calvi had written a letter of warning to Pope John Paul II, stating that such a forthcoming event would "provoke a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions in which the Church will suffer the gravest damage". On 18 June 1982 Calvi's body was found hanging from scaffolding beneath in the financial district of London. Calvi's clothing was stuffed with bricks, and contained cash valued at US,000, in three different currencies.

Problems with traditionalists

In addition to all the criticism from those demanding modernisation, traditionalist Catholics sometimes denounced him as well. These issues included demanding a return to the and repudiation of the reforms instituted after the Second Vatican Council, such as the use of the vernacular language in the formerly Latin Mass, , and the principle of . He also was criticised for allowing and appointing liberal bishops in their sees and thus silently promoting , which was firmly condemned as the "synthesis of all heresies" by his predecessor . In 1988, the controversial traditionalist Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, founder of the Society of St. Pius X (1970), was under John Paul II because of the unapproved ordination of four bishops, which was called by the Holy See a "schismatic act".

The , with a meeting in Assisi, Italy, in 1986, in which the pope prayed only with the Christians, was criticised for giving the impression that and were openly embraced by the Papal . When a second 'Day of Prayer for Peace in the World' was held, in 2002, it was condemned as confusing the laity and compromising to false religions. Likewise criticised was his kissing of the Qur'an in Damascus, Syria, on one of his travels on 6 May 2001. His call for religious freedom was not always supported; bishops like promoted , but at the same time rejected the Vatican II principle of religious liberty as being and already condemned by Pope Pius IX in his (1864) and at the .

Religion and AIDS

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John Paul's position against artificial birth control, including the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV, was harshly criticised by doctors and AIDS activists, who said that it led to countless deaths and millions of AIDS orphans. Critics have also claimed that large families are caused by lack of contraception and exacerbate poverty and problems such as street children in South America. The published a paper stating, "Any strategy that enables a person to move from a higher-risk towards the lower end of the continuum, [we] believe, is a valid risk reduction strategy."

Social programmes

There was strong criticism of the pope for the controversy surrounding the alleged use of charitable social programmes as a means of converting people in the Third World to Catholicism. The pope created an uproar in the when he suggested that a great harvest of faith would be witnessed on the subcontinent in the third Christian millennium.

Ian Paisley

In 1988, when Pope John Paul II was delivering a speech to the European Parliament, , the leader of the and of the , shouted "I denounce you as the !" and held up a red banner reading "Pope John Paul II ANTICHRIST". (the last ), an for Germany, snatched Paisley's banner, tore it up and, along with other MEPs, helped eject him from the chamber. The pope continued with his address after Paisley had been ejected.

Međugorje apparitions

A number of quotes about the , in Bosnia and Herzegovina, have been attributed to John Paul II. In 1998, when a certain German gathered various statements that were supposedly made by the pope and Cardinal Ratzinger, and then forwarded them to the Vatican in the form of a memorandum, Ratzinger responded in writing on 22 July 1998: "The only thing I can say regarding statements on ascribed to the Holy Father and myself is that they are complete invention."

Beatification controversy

Some Catholic disagreed with the call for the beatification of John Paul II. Eleven dissident theologians, including professor José María Castillo and Italian theologian , said that his stance against contraception and the ordination of women as well as the Church scandals during his pontificate presented "facts which according to their consciences and convictions should be an obstacle to beatification".[] Some traditionalist Catholics opposed his beatification and canonisation for his views on liturgy and participation in prayer with non-Christians.

Stolen relic

On 27 January 2014, it was reported that a relic of John Paul II, a vial containing drops of his blood, had been stolen from the church of San Pietro della Ienca north of in the mountainous region of central Italy, a region where he had loved to go on skiing vacations. Cardinal Dziwisz had previously given the vial to the church in recognition of its connections to the Pontiff. Because there are only three relics containing his blood, few or no other items were disturbed, and it would be difficult to sell, the investigating Italian police believe it was a commissioned theft, and speculated that the blood might be used in . The theft sparked a major search for the culprits. Two men confessed to the crime, and an iron reliquary and a stolen cross, but not the relic, were recovered from the grounds of a in L'Aquila on 30 January; the blood was recovered shortly after from rubbish bins near where the reliquary had been found.

Personal life

Having played the game himself as a goalkeeper, John Paul II was a fan of English team , where his compatriot played in the same position.

In 1973, while still the archbishop of Kraków, Karol Wojtyła befriended a Polish-born, later American , . The thirty-two-year friendship (and occasional academic collaboration) lasted until his death. She served as his host when he visited New England in 1976 and photos show them together on skiing and camping trips. Letters that he wrote to her were part of a collection of documents sold by Tymieniecka's estate in 2008 to the . According to the BBC the library had initially kept the letters from public view, partly because of John Paul's path to sainthood, but a library official announced in February 2016 the letters would be made public. In February 2016 the BBC documentary program reported that John Paul II had apparently had a 'close relationship' with the Polish-born philosopher. The pair exchanged personal letters over 30 years, and Stourton believes that Tymieniecka had confessed her love for Wojtyła. The Vatican described the documentary as "more smoke than mirrors", and Tymieniecka denied being involved with John Paul II.

Writers , the veteran investigative journalist of the , and Vatican expert Marco Politi, were the first journalists to talk to Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka in the 1990s about her importance in John Paul's life. They interviewed her and dedicated 20 pages to her in their 1996 book His Holiness. Bernstein and Politi even asked her if she had ever developed any romantic relationship with John Paul II, "however one-sided it might have been." She responded, "No, I never fell in love with the cardinal. How could I fall in love with a middle-aged clergyman? Besides, I'm a married woman."

See also


  1. English: Charles Joseph Wojtyła
  2. In isolation, Józef is pronounced .


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