The Man of the Century
After watching the Papal Burial on TV, I found myself checking out Pope John Paul II’s biography on the internet. His life really struck me.
–He was born in Wadowice, Poland and his real name was Karol Josef Wojtyla.
–His father was a retired army officer and tailor and his mother was a schoolteacher.
–His mother died when he was nine, and then he lost his 26-year old brother when he was 12.
–He was an athletic youth.
–He studied literature and philosophy.
–He was a theatrical actor, a playwright and a poet.
–He also worked as a stone cutter in a quarry and worked in a chemical plant.
–When he was elected pope in 1978, he was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years.
–He was 58 when he became the pope.
–He was the most widely traveled pope.
–At the time he became pope, could speak eight languages and this enabled him to reach people.
–He tried to bridge the gap between religions. He was the first pope to visit a synagogue.
–In May 1981, a Turkish gunman named Mehmet Ali Agca opened fire on him and later he offered forgiveness to this assassin during an arranged prison meeting.
–His criticism of dictators such as Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines encouraged opposition movements to topple the latter's government.
–He started World Youth Day.
–He had very conservative views. He rejected contraception and abortion and prohibited the ordination of women. Yet he was the most techno-savvy pope using the media and technology to spread his message.
–He visited the Philippines twice, February 1981 and January 1995.
–He had set foot in Bird’s Hill Park, Manitoba during his visit to Canada in September 1984.
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