Pope John Paul II
An extraordinary human being.
Karol Wojtyla 1920-2005
"Do not be afraid."
Revolutionary, Mystic and Spiritual World Leader for Peace
As the pope lay dying, a Polish mans words reflected that of millions
of others around the world:
'I am not religious. I do not believe in God. I never cry, yet i am crying. There will never be a man like this again.'
Even China wished the Pope a speedy recovery in his final days
- the Communist state's first public message to a head of the Catholic Church since the 1950's.
What Made This Man So Great and Influential?
A champion for the poor, for human rights, for people from all walks of life.
Loved by all ages. Loved by all faiths. - Loved despite disagreement in viewpoints.
Fluent in 8 languages - A master of communication with great humor.
He denounced oppression, poverty, racism, apartheid, communism,
moral degradation, violence, execution and war.
He confronted world leaders and used his power to change social conditions.
He fought to bring down communism and succeeded - Later the Soviets attempted to assassinate him.
He built bridges between different world religions.
- The first pope to enter a mosque. The first pope to enter a synagogue.
- The first pope to visit Egypt, a pre-dominantly muslim country.
- The first pope to render homage to the millions of Jews murdered by the Nazis, when he visited Auchwitz.
Peaceful. Loving. Serene. Compassionate. Kind. Playful.
A Workaholic. An Intellectual. A Philosopher. A Poet.
Fearless. Direct. Unwavering. Honest. Courageous.
Cosmopolitan. Charismatic. Special. Humanitarian.
He never forgot a face. He made people feel special. He changed hurt into forgiveness.
He worked tirelessly for reconciliation between all religious denominations.
He was a great healer of old wounds and rifts between countries, governments and religions.
He had a deep love for young people and they loved him too just as equally.
The evening before Pope John Paul II died, 70, 000 people gathered in the Vatican square below his bedroom
window. Many were young people. The pope's aids told him of the sight and the pope gave them a message to
deliver to the young crowd - "I have sought you out. Now you have come to me. I thank you."
Karol Wojtyla's election as Pope in 1978 stunned the Catholic world. Not one expert had tipped the 58 year old
bishop of Krakow for the top job. His stand against Poland's Communist regime had brought him respect. But
he was not part of the Vatican "in-crowd" and, above all, he was the first non-Italian pope in more than 450 years.
He went on to become one of the most familiar faces in the world. His papal odyssey covered more
than 120 countries and he earned himself the reputation of an international fighter for freedom.
Pope John Paul II had many critics and even enemies, due to his extreme conservative, archaic views on abortion,
contraception and women's rights which caused thousands to leave the Catholic church as a result.
Regardless, millions of people worldwide have loved Pope John Paul II and continue to do so beyond his death -
people that are not only Catholics, but also Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jews and Atheists - people that completely
disagree with outdated church imposed policies love him no less, and the young...they adore him.
WHY? His soul radiated a pure, honest love. John Paul II invisibly reflected back to us all what could be described
as the essence of what 'God' maybe is. No words can really explain this. It was a feeling. A knowing. To be in his
presence, or look at his smiling face, or listen to his voice... people would be touched without consciously really
understanding why. Now he has left the earth, there is a space, a void that is felt by everyone that felt a heart
connection to this Polish revolutionary. A man that made a difference, who awoke many to transcend differences
and who brought freedom, love and inner peace to many others.
The Pope grew up in the southern Polish village of Wadowice, near Krakow, Poland, the son of an army sergeant.
He had a strict, devout upbringing. His mother died when he was nine and his brother died from scarlett fever before
he was 14. As a young man Karol excelled at sports, including soccer and skiing, and had a love of acting and the
theatre. He was a 19 yr. old teenager in 1939 when German tanks invaded Poland. He experienced the suppression
and cruelty of Hitler's Nazi regime and saw his friends sent off to concentration camps.
Archbishop of Krakow
World War II and the Nazi occupation forced Karol Wojtyla to work as a labourer in a limestone quarry.
At age 20 years old, Karol's father died and he was left alone. He studied theology from 1942 and was forced
into hiding in 1944 following a crackdown on religious teaching. Continuing his studies after the war, he was
ordained a priest at age 26 yrs in 1946. The Soviets took over Poland, but Karol continued on his chosen path
and even then, was a special man to his parish, often taking them on hikes into nature that he so loved.
Rapid promotion followed and by 1964 when he was 44 yrs he was promoted to archbishop of Krakow.
Three years later he was a cardinal. Throughout, he had continued his theological studies and was often seen in
Rome, but no more than dozens of other cardinals from distant and obscure dioceses.
Destiny Stepped In
"The Year of the Three Popes" came in 1978. Pope Paul VI died at the age of 80. His successor, elected in a single
day, took the name John Paul in memory of his two predecessors. Thirty-three days later he, too, was dead. Once
again the College of Cardinals conducted the centuries-old ritual of a papal election in the Sistine Chapel. After
two days of deliberation, Karol Wojtyla became the next successor to St. Peter. Taking the name John Paul II, the
new pontiff, only 58 yrs old, signaled a new era in Catholic affairs. He was dynamic and approachable, an instantly
recognisable leader for the world's largest Christian community.
World Traveler - Emissary For Peace
The Pope traveled constantly. After his appointment, he quickly established himself as an instantly recognisable
figurehead to the world's largest Christian community as well as to the world's non-Christian community. He
visited more than 100 countries and is estimated to have effectively circled the globe 27 times.
The Pope forgave his assassin Mehmet Ali Agca
However, his desire for closeness with people almost led to his death. In St. Peter's Square 1981, he was shot
and seriously wounded by a Mehmet Ali Agca - a Turk, hired by Bulgarians, directed by Soviet KGB. After a
long recovery he visited and forgave his would-be assassin. (Agca remains in Turkish jail and sent John Paul
II his love and sincere wishes for recovery during the pope's final days battling his failing body)
The Church Of England
In 1982 he visited Britain. This was a historically charged trip made all the more important as it occurred during
the Falklands crisis. For the first time since the Reformation, the Pope met the Archbishop of Canterbury. The
Pope appealed for a peaceful end to the Falklands issue, a plea which was mirrored in a visit to Argentina days
later. He participated in a number of ecumenical services with the Church of England, something unthinkable
in previous eras.
Eastern Bloc Influence
With the break-up of the Soviet bloc, relations between the Kremlin and the Vatican gained a new significance.
In 1989, Mikhail Gorbachev visited Rome, the first time a Soviet leader had crossed the threshold of St. Peter's.
"The Pope," he told his wife Raisa at the time, "is the pre-eminent moral authority in the world. But he's still a
Slav." The understanding between the two men undoubtedly eased the way to democracy in the eastern bloc.
Controversial - Conservative Outdated Views
The collapse of Communism coincided with increasing demands in the West for a compromise on religious
teaching. By consistently rejecting these calls, John Paul effectively closed the debate before it had started.
He was a complex man. While calling for action to combat world poverty, he insisted that contraception was
morally unacceptable. He said that he wanted to improve the status of women while writing that motherhood
should be a woman's natural aspiration.
He frequently criticised the liberalism which he saw all around him. Homosexuals incurred both his wrath
and his pity, to the dismay of campaigners for gay rights.
At a Vatican conference in 2001 he spoke out against laws allowing divorce, abortion, homosexual unions
and rights for unmarried couples. Critics both inside and outside the church say such views risk alienating
many Catholics and are out of touch with a rapidly changing world.
In 2002, the Pope made an emotional and nostalgic final visit to his homeland, flying over his birthplace in
Wadowice and visiting the graves of his parents and brother in Krakow. Once again, vast crowds turned out
to see the man many Poles regarded as a living saint, a fellow countryman who they knew played a key pivitol
role in liberating them from Communism when he defiantly supported 'Solidarity' during communist rule over
Poland and inspired his people to action against soviet rule.
John Paul's reign also saw other radical changes throughout the world - the end of apartheid, the fall of the
Berlin Wall and of course the emergence of Aids. He had to deal with an increasing number of sex abuse
scandals which have beset the Catholic Church, many of which centered amongst American clergy.
Physical Challenges For 13 years
The Pope was beset by physical illness beginning with a tumor being removed from his colon in 1992,
he then dislocated his shoulder in 1993, broke his femur in 1994 and had his appendix removed in 1996.
In 2001 an orthopaedic surgeon confirmed what had been suspected for some time - that the Pope was
suffering from Parkinson's disease.
The Final Milestones
In the new millenium, he apologised over and over for any pain the Christian church had inflicted on
any human being during the past 2,000 years whether it be by action or non-action, from the crusades
to the holocaust, up until now.
In 2000, he publicly endorsed the Jubilee 2000 campaign on African debt relief fronted by Irish rock
stars Bob Geldof and Bono. It was reported that during this period, U2's recording sessions were
repeatedly interrupted by phone calls from the Pope, wanting to discuss the campaign with Bono.
In March 2000, John Paul II made a historical trip to Jordan, Palestine and Israel, visiting Bethlehem,
Jerusalem and even Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat along the way.
In 2001, John Paul II was the first Pope to visit Greece in 1291 years. This visit was highly controversial.
In Athens, the Pope met with Archbishop Christodoulos, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church. The
two leaders aired the serious differences between them and concluded by breaking an Orthodox taboo
against praying with Catholics, when together, they recited the Lords Prayer.
In October 2003, St. Peter's square in Rome was filled with pilgrims from around the world as Pope John
Paul II celebrated his Silver Jubilee. Just five months later, on 14 March 2004, the remarkable life of the
pontiff reached another milestone when his papacy became the third-longest in the history of the Catholic
Church. The Pope marked his 84th birthday in May of that year, but despite deteriorating health he refused
to let up his grueling schedule of appearances and foreign trips. On April 2nd, 2005, the Popes sick body
finally set his soul free as he lay in his Vatican apartment. John Paul II joyfully passed on... his incredible
journey and mission on earth complete.
Words Of Love and Affection For Pope John Paul II,
From The Hearts Of People Around the World That He Touched:
He may have been a man with whom one disagreed on many issues but one could not help but admire
him for his truthfulness and steadfast conviction. He was a man whose impact on the world at large will
now start to show. - Paul Robinson, New Zealand
Thank you Karol Wojtyla, John Paul II. Thank you for speaking out against war, for your unconditional
defence of human life, for your option for the poor, for truly being "the voice of those who cannot speak
and those who are silenced." You gave meaning to the word 'solidarity'. - Hans Egil Offerdal, Norway
He was indeed a great man. Let's all unite in prayer, thought and stand for all things right and continue
the propagation of the messageof peace to all mankind. We are all God's children and brothers and sisters,
no matter what race, religion and ideology. - Dennise Romagos, Australia
I was born an Atheist and although I did not share his views about God and death, I did respect him. He
earned respect from billions of people from around the World. He earned respect by doing what was
right and touching people's hearts. He is one of the greatest men of the 20th Century and will be greatly
missed. - Rodney Burns, Republic of Ireland
The Pope met with both the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and the President of Israel.
He expressed sympathy with the plight of the Palestinians, and spoke of the Church's
sadness at the persecution and anti-Semitism directed at Jews by Christians.
Israel, the Jewish people and the entire world, lost today a great champion of reconciliation and brotherhood
between the faiths. This is a great loss, first and foremost for the Catholic Church and its hundreds of millions
of believers, but also for humanity as a whole. - Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom
I love you Pope, I am a Shia Muslim, and I want you to know that you are as loved as I love and
respect Ayatollah Al-Sistani. - Adam Bayzar
He was a great man. I remember his trip to Israel in March 2000. His humanity and humility impressed us
all. He had blazed the trail in Catholic-Jewish relations. Every house of worship - the Mosque, Church and
Synagogue was sacred to him and he had visited these houses of worship with great respect for his hosts.
He was an international figure who held strong convictions which is positive to all irrespective of faith,
colour or creed. - Shimon Z. Klein, Israel
As an Observant Jew, i would like to offer my prayers on this Shabbat for the Pope and for all Catholics.
The current Pope was not only a friend to the Jewish people, whom he helped to rescue while in Poland,
but a friend to all humanity. - Shimon Cohen
Losing Pope John Paul II is a loss to the entire humanity. He was an institution in himself. He was not
only the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, but was the spiritual, moral and religious leader of the
entire human race. - Bhawan, Iraq
I longed in vain all these years to meet Pope John Paul II one day. May the Lord bless
this outstanding son of the world. - Kurian Mathew, Doha, Qatar
I think about Jean Paul's II modesty, his wonderful and warm smile. He was close to all different religions.
He went to see the poor who couldn't come and see him. As a Lebanese Christian I would never forget the
joy on the day I saw him in Lebanon and even Muslims felt the same way. He is a leader that would come
once every thousand of years. It would be hard to find someone who can fill his shoes.
- Patrick N Chkaibam, Fanar, Lebanon
I am a Muslim but I was very saddened to hear the death of this great man. He put aside his own personal
sufferings to bring comfort to others. He encouraged dialogues with other faiths and had a personal
magnetism that connected him with people all over the world. He will be missed by all who truly believe in
world peace and human brotherhood. - Ali, UK
President Nelson Mandela and Pope John Paul II,
Johannesburg, September 1995
May I wish the pontiff Godspeed in his journey to the afterlife. Although a non-Christian, I'm touched
by the inter-religious solidarity shown by contributors here. That in itself has to be a good thing.
- Obinna Ike, Lagos, Nigeria
Pope John Paul II not only visited Nigeria twice but stood by the country in its fight against
dictatorship and injustice. - Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo
The whole world will remember Pope John Paul II for his peace making initiative. The world has lost
one peace lover and peace maker. - Melaku Jemaneh, Ethiopia
A great pillar of religion, a symbol of unity of faith. He was an advocate of peace among all irrespective
of tribe, colour, religion or creed. A political adviser to the world. - Alfred Oviomo, Nigeria
The world will remember this great soul as symbol of peace, integrity and brotherhood. ....
equally good for the whole of humankind. - Dr M Ashaq Raza, Asmara, Eritrea
Even though I am a Sikh I had so much respect for him. This great man. - Nav Singh, UK
Thank you for your great leadership and love for every soul on earth. - Miki Hoya, New Zealand
That he was appointed Pope was a miracle. He freed Eastern Europe. He was the moral authority of
our times. He brought a joy to his role, a sense of fun despite the burdens he carried. What a Man.
- Lutek, Poland
We have always seen the Pope, and will always see him, as a friend who was concerned for the poor,
who fought neoliberalism and strove for peace. - Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque
Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa 1986
I am not a Roman Catholic but I strongly believe that the doors of heaven have been opened for the very peaceful
soul of the 84-year-old pontiff - Pope John Paul II. - Amudala Satyanarayana, Tirupati, India
A person with the highest regard for human life. He will be remembered for his endeavours in bringing together
various Christian faiths. The holy father has great regard for the human life and values which was reflected in his
sermons on various occasions. Some times he was criticised for being against abortion and euthanasia. Never the
less he has maintained cordial relation with his detractors as well as with followers of different faiths. The world
will remember him for ever for his good deeds and clear convictions. - Robin, Cochin, India
The Pope was in Venezuela twice. In both of those opportunities we met a great and spiritual leader, capable of
filling Venezuelan people with his charisma, strength and faith. I thank God for his work all over the world, for
having him between us on earth, and I wish serenity and joy for the Catholic people for his journey to the eternity.
Juan Pablo II has already won heaven. We will miss him very very much. -Veronica Malave, Caracas, Venezuela
As a child, I was blessed by the Pope when he came to my country years ago. Thank you for all what you have
done in this world. I believe that the Pope is one of the greatest men of our time. - Damien Sholay, Mauritius
Although not of the Catholic faith I have just returned from the Vatican City to pay tribute to one of the greatest
humanitarians in history, a man who did more for world peace than anyone else. - James Taylor, Canada
Pope John Paul II was a great man. His death left a void. - Marek I Tomaszewski, Denmark
I might not be a Catholic but I still will remember what the pope did for us. - Zornitsa, Bulgaria
The Pope was the only man who could unite people of different colour and religion and make them pray for
peace. The world will miss him. Not only Catholics are sorry for his death, but people all over the world. I am
not a Christian but I did admire him. - Irina, Russia
Pope John II literally blew the cobwebs out of the Vatican, he was far seeing, original, determined and
respectful of others. In this world of wishy-washy leaders with little to commend them, He stood out
commanding and deserving respect. - Mythili, Italy
John Paul II was always on the side of the most poor, of the most unprotected, of the most unfortunate, those
who were left behind in the development process. - Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates
The Queen, head of the Church of England meets with the Pope,
head of the Catholic church, October 2000
The world has lost a religious leader who was revered across people of all faiths and none. He was an
inspiration, a man of extraordinary faith, dignity and courage. Throughout a hard and often difficult life,
he stood for social justice and on the side of the oppressed, whether as a young man facing the Nazi
occupation in Poland or later in challenging the Communist regime. He never wavered, never flinched,
in the struggle for what he thought was good and right. - UK Prime Minister Tony Blair
May the world take onboard his teachings that we are all brothers and sisters no matter our colour,
religion or nationality. Even if we disagree on some issues we should be able to discuss them but
still embrace each other as Pope John Paul II has. - Melissa, Scotland
I find it incredible that so many people of different faiths or no faith respect and indeed love the Pope.
To me it reveals how he succeeded in his mission to communicate with all people. Throughout his
papacy he stressed communication and love: both seem to have won through. - Laura, UK
Despite being a Pagan, I have respect for this man. He brought more to this world than many who
call themselves peacemakers. - Carol, UK
Pope John Paul is a rarity in our group of world leaders, in that he is totally committed to his beliefs
and totally open and honest about them. - Neil Small, Scotland
A truly great man has passed from us. I will never see the like of him again. I am not that religious
but I know greatness when I see it, the world has lost it's greatest asset. - Peter Stokes, England
He was a Great Man and Leader. - Pentti Juhani Partanen, Finland
This Pope has meant so much for humanity. He deserves at least the Nobel Prize for peace.
- Ingeborg van der Ploeg, Stockholm, Sweden
Everyone one loves him. He did a lot of good, he was a good man and loved and forgave everyone.
He loved every one of us no matter what religion you are. - Carmelina Degiorgio, Malta
A truly great person full of genuine compassion whose goodness has been the hallmark of his entire
life: a serenity reflected in health and in sickness. - Pancha Chandra, Brussels, Belgium
Until the end of his life, John Paul II carried out his mission with energy and clarity. The suffering
he did not hide in his last years never altered his determination. - Brazilian President Luiz Inacio
Lula da Silva
Beloved by even the non-religious.
Pope John Paul II did not win all his 'battles' but he never gave up trying. One man that had the power
to change the course of history denied the Pope's requests -
The Pope strongly opposed the USA attacking Iraq and condemned resulting American military torture
of civilians and combatants. President Bush ignored him completely - Bush attacked anyway, murdering
tens of thousands of innocents in Iraq, as well as Afghanistan beforehand, and he continues to break the
articles of the Geneva Convention daily. Bush also condones the death penalty which John Paul II
"For us Catholics, John Paul II will be remembered as a travelling Pope ... and we should also remember
he preached world peace. When the United States invaded Iraq, for example, John Paul II said it was
an illegal and immoral act." - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
"Pope John Paul II was an amazing man. If only our world leaders would look up to him and learn a thing
or two about compassion. Rest in peace, Pope John Paul II. I as a Muslim will be praying for him."
- Dina Nasser, Cairo, Egypt
Even Fidel Castro was moved by the Pope's death. He declared 3 days of mourning in Cuba and attended
mass wearing a dark suit instead of his military uniform. "Rest in peace, tireless fighter for friendship among
peoples, enemy of war and friend of the poor," Castro wrote in the condolences book at the Vatican's mission
in Havana. "Your departure pains us, unforgettable friend, and we fervently wish your example is lasting,"
There has never been a pope like John Paul II and there never will be again.
This special soul touched the hearts of billions across the world, regardless of religious denomination,
age or politics. He loved people. He loved life. A profound void has been left in our world. A light for
the highest good of humankind, a force for goodness and love has been extinguished.
LIFE IS SACRED
LOVE EACH OTHER
FIGHT FOR WORLD PEACE AND FREEDOM FROM SUPPRESSION,
FORGIVE AND LET GO
"We've lost John Paul II The Great. For my home country, as for
all the rest of the world, this is a loss
that will be very hard, if ever possible, to compensate. - Krzysztof Maslinski, Poland.
One Man Can Make A DifferenceLeap Of Faith
Of The HeartKeys
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