Faithful Fridays: Pope John Paul II

By Maya Kirl (Rated G)

Pope John Paul the Second was born Karol Wojtyla in 1920 in Poland. He was the first non-Italian pope in almost five hundred years. John Paul II was really interested in a greater understanding of other countries and nations with other religions. He took multiple trips abroad so that he could meet and connect with others. He travelled more than all the popes combined before him. He campaigned against political oppression and the materialism of the West. Pope John really wanted to use his influence to deter violence and bring recognition to human dignity and niceties. 

In his early life, JPII graduated from secondary school as valedictorian. However, in 1939, there were many Jewish people, religious leaders and political leaders taken away to Nazi concentration camps. For the next four years, he worked in a factory that the Nazis considered essential to their war effort. During these years and after, he worked hard to join the priesthood. In 1946, he was ordained as a priest of the Catholic Church. He worked hard to find good friends and learn all that he could about the church and what issues were important to the church and others. He was made a cardinal in 1967, and then finally in 1978, he was elected Pope. He came in with an intention to continue with the Second Vatican Council’s reforms and his own values. He traveled all around the world, preaching his messages of religious freedom, national independence and human rights. 

In 1981, John Paul II was shot in the abdomen and nearly died. When he recovered, he went to visit the shooter in prison to forgive him. In 1995, he preached that a universal moral law could help the world to move away from all of the violence that it had been involved in. In the 1990s he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and though he tried hard to keep up with his regular schedule, it was a lot for him to maintain. He died in 2005 in Rome. His funeral drew millions of pilgrims there. He was beatified and canonized in 2014.

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