When I write these words - our first Polish pope, Karol Wojtyla, the most important man from our land is on the verge between the life and the death. The vigils are kept in churches all over Poland.
Our Polish pope changed the papacy in many ways - he was charismatic and spiritual leader, but also a very warm and down to earth person. He wrote books and poems - but he also worked physically as a young men and liked sport. His many interests helped him to understand people with different backgrounds and cultures better than anybody else. This pope did not do anything because he wanted to please the press, public opinion or poll, he did it because of conviction.
He would be the most known for the pilgrimages around the world. He visited people everywhere he could - Catholics and non-Catholics bringing the message of faith and hope. John Paul II is the most pro-life leader from many reasons:
The pope is firmly against the war as a way to solve the conflict - he was fiercely opposing the current Iraq war. He tries as much as possible to negotiate, he actively tries to prevent any military conflicts.
He is adamantly against abortion, euthanasia and capital punishment.
The pope also denounced the world poverty. He criticized the rich countries for not doing enough to help the poor.
Both American parties - Democrats and Republicans have only partial pro-life stands - since Democrats are against poverty but pro-choice and the Republicans are supporting pro-gun and pro-big corporation lobbies but are against abortions - in general.
Below is a short fragment of my article (see the full version) which will be published in paper edition of Polish-American Journal in the April edition, 2005
I saw Karol Wojtyla a couple of times when he was a cardinal and an archbishop in my hometown, Krakow. He was a very active and a busy person. I remember we were waiting for him in a parish and he was a half an hour later than planned. He was very friendly, he hugged a kid standing next to me on the way to the church. At that moment I really wanted to be a kid again, maybe the cardinal would hug me also.
We thought that communism would be for a very long time. The pope told us during his first visit not to be afraid. He prayed spirit, come and renew the face of the earth. People listened to the pope and realized their internal strength, they looked around at the countless crowds and they realized they had power because there were so many of them who wanted the same! We did not need to wait too long...
Read another article published in January edition of Polish-American Journal, entitled Church in Poland; Are Poles good Catholics?
The pope in numbers:
- John Paul II is one of the three popes who reigned over 25 years
- The pope made 104 trips outside of Italy, he visited 129 countries, spend more than 2 years during his papacy outside of Rome
- John Paul II made 146 trips inside the Italy and made 301 visits to parishes in Rome
- The pope held more than 11 hundreds general audiences in Vatican, issued over 1000 major documents
- He canonised 482 people and beatified 1,338 people
- He appointed 231 cardinals
- The pope held talks with over 15 hundreds heads of states
* According to www.theage.com.au
Stories of Karol: The Unknown Life of John Paul II (Hardcover), by Gian Franco Svidercoschi, Peter Heinegg (Translator)
Over 200 texts from messages issued on 85 apostolic journeys made by the most traveled pope of the century: Pope John Paul II: In My Own Words, by Pope John Paul II