Pope John Paul II, April 10, 2003. (AP Photo/Massimo Sambucetti, file)
INDEPTH: POPE JOHN PAUL II|
The Pilgrim Pope
CBC News Online | April 2, 2005
John Paul II will be remembered as the Pilgrim Pope. He travelled to more places in the world and spoke to more people than any other pontiff in the history of the Roman Catholic Church.
Following is the English
translation of the statement issued by the Vatican on
Pope John Paul II's death.
"The Holy Father died this evening at 9:37 p.m. in his private
"All the procedures outlined in the apostolic Constitution
`Universi Dominici Gregis' ('Of the Lord's Whole Flock') that was
written by John Paul II on Feb. 22, 1996, have been put in
[This refers to the procedures for how the Vatican will
handle the pope's death and the balloting rules for choosing his
successor during a papal conclave.]
He revolutionized the modern papacy. Where previous pontiffs remained distant, never straying far from the Vatican, John Paul maintained a busy travel schedule. He completed 102 pastoral visits outside of Italy, and 144 within, visiting almost 130 countries during his 26 years as Pope. He logged more kilometres of travel than all other popes combined.
Elected at only 58 on Oct. 16, 1978 John Paul II was the youngest pope of the 20th century, and the first non-Italian pope since the 15th century. His charisma - people who met him described it as a "luminescence" - and common touch drew adoring crowds wherever he went.
On March 14, 2004, John Paul became the longest-serving pope after Pius IX and St. Peter, when his pontificate overtook that of Leo XIII.
Student during Nazi occupation
Pope John Paul was born Karol Wojtyla on May 18, 1920, in Wadowice, Poland. His mother died when he was eight years old. Three years later, he lost his older brother to scarlet fever. Wojtyla's father, who was a sergeant in the army, died in 1941. By the age of 20, Wojtyla had lost three of his closest family members.
Karol Wojtyla was a gregarious young man who loved skiing, hiking, mountain climbing, swimming and kayaking. He was also a keen student of the stage. He became a superb linguist and was fluent in 11 languages.
Born Karol Wojtyla
As a student during the years of the Nazi occupation of Poland, John Paul was passionate about religion. He maintained a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, choosing as his personal motto Totus tuus (Latin for "All yours," meaning Mary).
Karol Wojtyla became the youngest bishop in modern Polish history at the age of 38. Nine years later he was the youngest cardinal, guiding the faithful in a country that was officially atheist. In 1978, in a choice that was a surprise to many, the College of Cardinals elected him to lead the Roman Catholic Church.
To some, John Paul II was a revolutionary. He took strong stands on human rights, criticized dictators, sought reconciliation with the Jewish world, opened a dialogue with other faiths, and tried - mostly in vain - to bring unity to Christians of the world.
Many argue his support for the Solidarity movement in his native Poland helped bring down communism in Europe. He also turned his eye toward the growing gap between the rich and poor, criticizing the excesses of capitalism and the empty materialism of the West.
The newly elected Pope John Paul II acknowledges cheers from pilgrims crowding Saint Peter's Square during his first appearance as Pope, Oct. 16, 1978. (AP Photo/Massimo Sambucetti)
To his detractors, he was a reactionary trying to turn back the clock on modern reality. Some harshly criticized his ultra-conservative theology, which prohibited female ordination, birth control and abortion. He branded the notion of overpopulation a myth and said the use of condoms as a precaution against AIDS only encouraged the behaviour that led to the spread of the disease.
In a 1993 letter to his bishops, John Paul said both sex before marriage and contraception were intrinsically evil. He also broadened the definition of mortal sins to include abortion, euthanasia, drug dealing and drug taking. Many liberal Catholics believed John Paul centralized power during his reign and blocked the democratization of the church.
In April 2002, he called 12 U.S. cardinals to the Vatican for an extraordinary two-day session to discuss the growing scandal of priestly sexual abuse of children in America. The Pope told the visiting cardinals that sexual abuse of children by priests and religious is "rightly considered a crime" and is "an appalling sin in the eyes of God."
He saw great significance in the fact that the day the would-be assassin shot him in 1981 was the anniversary of the apparition of the Blessed Virgin at Fatima in Portugal. He believed he survived the attempt on his life because of the intercession of Mary. He later visited the man who had tried to kill him - a Turk named Mehmet Ali Agca - to forgive him in his prison cell.
Pope John Paul II gives communion to a young man during the papal mass at Downsview Park in Toronto on July 28, 2002. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
He also visited the shrine at Fatima to thank Mary for sparing his life when, incredibly, a priest with a knife lunged at him, but was stopped before any harm was done.
First pope to visit Canada
John Paul first visited Canada in 1984, the first pope ever to do so. Thousands of Catholics, as well as many others from different faiths, came to wave and cheer the charismatic leader as he headed a motorcade in his new "Popemobile."
He returned to Canada in 1987 to fulfil a promise to visit the Northwest Territories. His scheduled visit to Fort Simpson had to be cancelled during his 1984 Canadian tour because the airport was socked in.
The Pope's third visit to Canada was in 2002, when the visibly frail pontiff attended World Youth Day festivities in Toronto. Despite his weakened health, the Pope walked down the steps of his chartered jet rather than using the lift provided. It was a show of strength for the then 82-year-old pontiff.
The People's Pope to the very end
Health problems were numerous late in the Pope's life. He had a tumour removed from his colon in 1992, dislocated his shoulder in 1993, broke his femur in 1994 and had his appendix removed in 1996.
John Paul II suffered from Parkinson's disease, an arthritic knee, an aching hip and the lingering effects of the 1981 assassination attempt. He had a bowel tumour removed in 1992 and had a hip joint replaced after a fall in 1994.
Despite this, the Pope was determined to continue his globetrotting, making historic trips to Cuba, South Africa, Syria, Ukraine and Greece, touching the lives of millions of people and reaching out to youth.
It is significant, but not surprising, that one of John Paul's last grand pilgrimages was to the Holy Land early in the new millennium when he visited the birthplace of Christ and said, "Bethlehem is the heart of my Jubilee Pilgrimage."
Three years later, during his visit to Slovakia in September 2003, the Pope was unable to complete his arrival remarks - the first time that had happened in dozens of foreign trips. In 2004, his curtailed travel schedule included visits to Lourdes and Switzerland.
In October 2004, Pope John Paul II announced a major Catholic conference would be held in Quebec City to coincide with the city's 400th anniversary. The pontiff said he would attend if his health permitted.
But in February 2005, the Pope was rushed to hospital with severe respiratory problems. Weeks later, he underwent a tracheotomy and had a breathing tube inserted in his throat to ease his breathing difficulties.
On Feb. 27, 2005, John Paul II turned over the responsibility of the Sunday Angelus blessing to his aide. It was the first time in his papacy that he wasn't able to perform the ceremony.
Except for the Easter blessing, the Pope designated cardinals to lead the events for Holy Week. On Easter Sunday, the Pope appeared at his Vatican window to bless the crowd gathered in St. Peter's Square. He made an attempt to speak, but he could only deliver a silent blessing.
The Pope's health began to worsen rapidly after that but he made the decision to remain at the Vatican instead of being taken to hospital. Pope John Paul II died on April 2. He was 84 years old.
Pope John Paul II led the world's Roman Catholics since he was the surprise choice of the College of Cardinals on Oct. 16, 1978.|
Born in Poland on May 18, 1920, Karol Wojtyla (pronounced voy-TIH-wah) was the first non-Italian pope since Adrian VI, who died in 1523.
He was the 264th pope, and ranks among the three who have served longest, with St. Peter (32-67) and Blessed Pius IX (1846-78).
John Paul was the most travelled pope, having visited almost 130 countries and territories - including Canada, three times.
He was a conservative pope in terms of doctrine, rejecting the ordination of women, forbidding priests from marrying, backing an international campaign against same-sex unions and opposing birth control and abortion.
But he's also credited with helping end communist rule in Eastern Europe.
John Paul tried to reconcile Christians and Jews, and the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
He declared 476 new saints and beatified 1,320 people, many more than his predecessors.