The biography of John Paul II –

Among the popes of Rome that have existed throughout history, perhaps the figure of John Paul II is one of the most remembered for his popularity among ordinary people. A pope who was characterized by his simplicity and above all by his good work in favor of the most needy. Let’s review below, the biography of John Paul II.

The biography of John Paul II

John Paul II whose original name was Karol Józef Wojtyła (1920-2005), was from 1978 to 2005 the first non-Italian pope after 455 years. During his 26 years of pontificate, Pope John Paul II tried to promote the dialogue between nations and between religions, moving around the world as no Pope had done before, and asking forgiveness for the injustices committed in the past by the Catholic Church.

In particular, Wojtyla worked hard to oppose the communist regime in Poland, and used his global influence to promote the recognition of human rights throughout the world. Among the most controversial aspects of John Paul II, canonized in 2014There was his strongly centralized conception of the papacy and his extreme traditionalism regarding Catholic morals and ecclesiastical doctrines, which helped alienate some segments of lay society from the church.

The early years of John Paul II

When Wojtyla was still a child, his country, Poland, was experiencing a brief period of freedom and independence, spanning from the defeat of the Red Army (1920) to the Nazi invasion in 1939. her city, Wadowice I was only 24 km from Auschwitz and it was inhabited by 10,000 people, mostly Catholics, but with a strong Jewish component (2,000 people). The dad of Wojtyla, also called Karol, was a polish army soldier. His mother and his brother had died when the future Pope was still very young.

The young Karol Wojtyla went to live in Krakow to go to university, but on September 1, 1939, the country was affected by the Nazi invasion. Not only the Jews, but also the religious and cultural leaders of Catholic Poland were deported en masse by the Nazis, who considered the Slavs an inferior race. Karol Wojtyla and his father tried to escape to the east, to discover that the eastern part of Poland had been invaded by the Soviets. In this period, while he continues to study in hiding, the future Pope John Paul II worked in a chemical factory, and he also found time to write nationalist-themed theatrical scripts and become increasingly interested in Catholic spirituality.

John Paul II and the early years in the Church

After losing his father in 1941, Karol Wojtyla began the path from 1942 to become a priest. Attending the (then illegal) seminars of the Archbishop of Krakow Adam Sapieha, Karol had to shelter for avoid being forcibly recruited by the Nazis, who in 1944 swept the cities of Poland in search of men who were capable of fighting. After the end of the war (1945), Poland began to enter the Soviet bloc, becoming a communist regime strongly hostile to Catholicism, practiced by most Poles. In this years Wojtyla was finally ordained a priest (1946) and went to Rome, where he studied theology for two years, earning his first doctorate. In the following 10 years, the young Pope John Paul II studies and teaches philosophy and theology in Lublinwhile continuing to write poetry and publish articles anonymously on a wide variety of topics.

In these years, the future Pope John Paul II writes his first essay, Love and Responsibility (1962), dedicated to conjugal love, which caused a certain sensation. He also manages to organize the life of his Catholic community despite the restrictions of the communist regime, for example, organizing excursions with masses in the open air, breaking the laws of the regime, which allowed the celebration of mass only in churches. The ecclesiastical authorities immediately appreciate Karol Wojtyla’s commitment, naming him auxiliary bishop of Krakow from 1958, and then Archbishop of Krakow during the Second Vatican II Council (1962). At this point, Wojtyla began to work on a commission on the study of family and birth problems, developing a clear rejection of artificial contraception, which will have a strong influence on the encyclical of the pope paul. which ordained cardinal Wojtyla in 1967.

Cardinal Karol Wojtyla

In his years as a cardinal, Karol Wojtyla works tirelessly for the cause of Catholicism in Poland, managing to obtain permission to build a new church in Krakow in 1977, asking for (and often obtaining) permission to hold traditional processions in the streets and celebrate outdoor masses on various occasions. In his most important philosophical text, Person and Atto (1969)written in recent years, the future Pope John Paul II argues that it is moral actions, and therefore not just thoughts or words, that define people.

Karol Wojtyla and the other leaders of the church in the country manage to develop a new style of communication in these years, destined to revolutionize the relationship of the church with the faithful: they travel continuously, they are among the people, they communicate with the multitudes. It is in these years that the future Pope John Paul II elaborates the communicative capacity that would later guarantee him the consent and sympathy of the masses on a global level that would allow him to go down in history by revolutionizing the role and communicative style of the papacy in the world.

Pope John Paul II: election to the papal throne

After the death of Paul VI (August 1978)the College of Cardinals elected the Venetian Albino Luciani What Pope John Paul I (name chosen in honor of the two Popes of the Second Vatican Council) but he will die after only 33 days in office. In these years, the church is strongly divided, and the factions of the subsequent conclave see Karol Wojtyla as an excellent candidate. Relatively young and energetic enough to attract young peopleis also traditional enough about church discipline (in crisis, according to many, during the Second Vatican Council), and at the same time relatively open. Elected on October 16, 1978 as John Paul II, Wojtyla was the first non-Italian pope to ascend the papal throne From the Dutch Hadrian VI (1522-1523).

By choosing the name of John Paul II, like his predecessor who died prematurely, the new Pope expresses continuity with the council reforms that revolutionized the church so much in the last decade, achieving a greater participation of the faithful in the rite in the mass, and at the same time, fighting for the recognition of human rights throughout the world.

Travels and politics of Pope John Paul II

The pontificate of John Paul II will be marked by continuous trips, all with great political importance. During his first vtrip to Mexico (January 1979), the new pope draws crowds of millions by addressing issues such as the fight for human rights and religious freedom, controversial issues in Latin America. A few months later, he is in Polandwhere he encourages the clergy to fight for their freedom, and then in IIreland and the United States, where he condemns religious violence and denounces the exploitation of American capitalism. In the next 10 years, the Pope will continue to travel tirelessly around the world. Meanwhile, to prevent the political impact of Christianity from being altered by local political issues, priests are prohibited from participating actively in political parties.

One of the highlights in the life of Karol Wojtyla as John Paul II occurs the May 13, 1981, When is victim of a near fatal attack by a young Turk, Mehmet Ali Agca. Public opinion, although there was no convincing evidence, linked the attack to the Soviet Union, which in recent years tried in every way to oppose the Solidarnosc Catholic union in Poland. One year later, John Paul II, after publicly pardoning his attacker, makes a pilgrimage to Fátima, where he suffers a new attack of a priest ordained by the dissident French archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

In December 1989, Mikhail Gorbachev was the first Soviet leader to enter the Vatican on an official visit, two years before the final collapse of the Soviet Union. Throughout the 1980s, the Pope maintained close contact with Polish and Soviet leaders, making a firm commitment that Solidarity, the underground movement and main political embodiment of Polish Catholicism hostile to the communist regime, would never resort to violence. this toopening to the dialogue of Pope John Paul II it will inspire other similar movements in many countries of the Soviet bloc.

In other areas, John Paul II’s political initiatives were not particularly successful: in particular when he openly criticizes the foreign policy of the United States or the blockade against Cuba, where he will meet another communist leader, President Fidel Castro, in 1998 After the fall of the Soviet Union, John Paul II will never stop criticizing what he believes to be the most negative effects of Western capitalist materialism.: consumerism, pornography, acceptance of abortion and euthanasia, indifference to poverty and hunger, or blind faith in technology as the solution to all problems.

The dialogue of Pope John Paul II with other religions

In 1986, John Paul II invited the leaders of the world’s major religions to Assisi for a universal prayer for world peace . The initiative generates much criticism from the most conservative representatives of all religions (starting with Catholicism itself).

In the 90’s follow a series of meetings with the Judaism and Islam. To make these initiatives more credible, there is also the fact that Pope John Paul II publicly asks for forgiveness for the sins of previous Catholics, such as the crusades, colonialism, the burning of heretics, etc. The Pope, who considered the Jews to be “elder brothers” of Christianity, declared in 1990 that antisemitism was like a sin against God and humanity.

In 2000, John Paul II met with the Grand Imam of al-Azhar in Cairoone of the highest authorities of Sunni Islam, and the following year he visited the damascus mosquesetting a new record: it is the first pope to set foot in a mosque, where he even prays together with some Muslim clerics. With more than 50 meetings with Muslim leaders, John Paul II will dialogue with Islam far more than all the popes of the past combined.

With all the more reason, the Pope’s efforts are not lacking with respect to other Christian churches: John Paul II meets with personalities from the Anglican church as well as from the Lutheran churches in Germany and Swedenin order to heal the eastern schism of 1054 with…