Pope John Paul II

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Blessed Pope John Paul II, byname John Paul the Great, Latin Ioannes Paulus, original name Karol Wojtyła (born 18 May 1920, Wadowice, Poland–died 2 April 2005, Vatican City), was the Pope of the Catholic Church. He was formally declared a saint by Pope Francis on 27 April 2014.


Karol Wojtyła was born on 18 May 1920 in Wadowice, Poland. Quite early Karol believed God was calling him for priesthood. During the German occupation of Poland, he studied secretly. On the 1 November 1946, he was ordained to the priesthood. Only two years later, he earned a doctorate in theology at the Angelicum in Rome.

From 1948 till 1951, he served as a parish priest in Poland's Kraków diocese. Pope Pius XII appointed Wojtyła an auxiliary bishop in Kraków on 4 July 1958, and Pope Paul VI appointed him Archbishop of Kraków on 30 December 1963. In the period between he studied, and became a professor. In 1967, the Pope elevated him to Cardinal.

Before becoming Pope, Wojtyła had been the professor of ethics at the Catholic University of Lublin

As Pope

On 16 October 1978, Wojtyła was elected to succeed Pope John Paul I. In order to make clear he wanted to continue the innovations of his predecessor, he chose the name John Paul II. His election was unique, in that he was the first Polish pope, the first non-Italian pope since Pope Adrian VI in 1522, and, at 58 years of age, the youngest pope in more then a hundred years. In 1981, he was shot, but survived. He had to spend two and a half months in hospital, but he fully recovered from his wounds. in 1983, two days after Christmas, he went to his would-be assassin and had a conversation with him, in which he gave him forgiveness. Karol liked many sports, such as snowboarding and skiing. He also travelled a lot, and he was outspoken in his opposition to Communism. He also spoke at length of the need for dialogue between different beliefs.

After a long period of illness with Parkinson's disease, he died on 2 April 2005. Papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls announced his death in this way:

"The Holy Father died this evening at 9:37 p.m. (2:37 p.m. ET) in his private apartment. All the procedures outlined in the apostolic Constitution 'Universi Dominici Gregis' that was written by John Paul II on Feb. 22, 1996, have been put in motion."

Theology and teachings

Before becoming Pope, Wojtyła's philosophical background was eclectic: he combined the traditional Thomism with the ideas of phenomenology. His second dissertation was on the work of Max Scheler, a student of Edmund Husserl (his first was on John of the Cross).

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