Karol Wojtyla was born on May 18, 1920 at Wadowice, Poland. For many years Karol believed God was calling him to the priesthood, and after two near fatal accidents, he responded to God’s call. He studied secretely during the German occupation of Poland, and was ordained to the priesthood on November 1, 1946. In these years he came to know and practice the teachings of St. Louis Marie Montfort and St. John of the Cross. He earned a doctorate in theology in 1948 at the Angelicum in Rome, Italy.
From 1948 to 1951 he served as a parish priest in the Krakow diocese and then returned to study philosophy at the Jagiellonian Univsersity at Krakow. From 1952 to 1958 Karol Wojtyla taught social ethics at the Krakow Seminary. In 1956 he became also a professor at the University of Lublin. Venerable Pope Pius XII appointed Karol Wojtyla an auxiliary bishop in Krakow on July 4, 1958. Servant of God, Pope Paul VI appointed him Archbishop of Krakow on December 30, 1963.
As Archbishop of Krakow, Karol Wojtyla proved himself a noble and trustworthy pastor in the face of Communist persecution. A member of the prepatory commission, he attended all four sessions of Vatican II and is said to have written Gaudium et spes, the document on the Church in the Modern World. He also played a prominent role in the formulation of the Declaration on Religious Freedom. Following the Council, the Servant of God, Pope Paul VI, appointed Karol Wojtyla a Cardinal of the Roman Church on June 26, 1967.
In 1960 he published his most famous written work, Love and Responsibility. Pope Paul VI, delighted with its apologetical defense of the traditional catholic teaching of marraige, relied extensively on Archbishop Wojytla’s counsel in writing Humanae Vitae. In 1976 he was invited by Pope Paul VI to preach the lenten sermons to the members of the Papal Household.
On October 16, 1978, Archbishop Wojtyla became the first non-Italian pope since Hadrian VI (1522-3). He took the name of his predecessors (John, Paul, John Paul) to emphasis his desire to continue the reforms of the Council.
Before this week I did not know much about John Paul II. I knew that he was the first non-Italian pope in about 450 years. I had seen the pope a lot on T.V. and knew that he was old and weak. I also knew that he has Parkinson’s Disease.
This week I found out what John Paul II was like before he got old and weak. I found out that he was instrumental in knocking down communism. In communism it was taught that there was no room for God, so it is an atheist society. This is because there is one leader and he must have all power. The leader does not want the people to be divided between him and the pope. John Paul II had strong beliefs, and stood behind his ideas with actions. I did not even know that he was shot. I learned that the pope traveled a great deal, and is actually the most traveled pope in history. He visited nearly every country in the world that would receive him.
I think that John Paul II is a great person. He tries to help everyone and touch everyone. John Paul II is a determined individual. Not only does he have ideas that are for the good of the most people, but he also stands behind his words with actions. He is a smart man who also has a great deal of common sense.
I think John Paul II is a great pope. He is the first pope in a long while to have ideas and have the balls to stand up for them. This seems ironic, because when John Paul II was chosen, he was not thought of as a strong, authoritative leader. John Paul II knew he was in a position to knock down communism, and he accomplished his task with persistence, when other people might have quit or not had the guts to take any action. The pope is the leader of the Church as a worldwide community. It is his job to safeguard the teachings of Christ for these 625 million people. He must be a unifying factor, and bring the Church together. John Paul II has accomplished his task, and served well.
If I could ask John Paul II one thing, I would ask him why he put in so much effort to being the pope? Why did he decide that he was not just going to be another pope, but put in the effort and be the greatest pope that he could be?
John Paul II made key contributions to the Church as a worldwide community. He knocked down communism, which brought more people into the Church. John Paul II was the most traveled pope in history, which means that he is seen and is connecting with the people. He has brought a different feeling into being the pope. Past popes were seen as royalty, wearing lavish garments. John Paul II is plain and just wants to connect to the everyday person.
I think that one person alone cannot make a difference; the help of others is needed. John Paul II could not have put down communism without supporters. Everything that John Paul II did could not have happened without others helping. I think that he could have helped save some Jews during World War II in Poland, put if he was caught he might have been killed. I say that he could have helped, but I do not hold this against him, because I do not know if I would put my life on the line in that same situation.