Friday, April 3, 2015

10 years ago: The death of Pope John Paul II

On April 2, 2005, Pope John Paul II died at the age of 84. Born Karol Wojtyla in Wadowice, Poland, he became a priest in 1946; a bishop in 1958; a cardinal in 1967; and was chosen in October 1978 to succeed John Paul I, who had died in September under suspicious circumstances (see the book In God's Name by David Yallop (1984)), after just over a month as pope.

John Paul II was the most-travelled pope in history, visiting 129 countries during his pontificate. He has been credited with providing leadership in the movement to bring down Communism behind the Iron Curtain and dictatorships elsewhere. John Paul II's pontificate was also marked by scandals involving finances and the revelation of sexual abuse of minors by priests. Readers who are interested in such things can conduct their own research--there's plenty of information available.

What I remember most about John Paul II is that while he affirmed traditional Roman Catholic doctrine, he pursued an agenda of uniting the world's religions--an agenda which is being aggressively continued by Pope Francis I. I particularly wish to remind the reader of the World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi, Italy in 1986, and Day of Prayer for Peace in the World, also in Assisi, in 2002. Go here to see my post on the 1986 event, and here for my post on Pope John Paul's address to the European Parliament in 1988, when Rev. Ian Paisley gave him the reception he deserved.

I find it interesting that Pope John Paul II died two days after the death of Terri Schiavo, a severely brain-damaged American woman who was ordered by a judge to be starved to death because her life was inconvenient to some people. Mrs. Schiavo and the family members who wanted to save her were Roman Catholics, and it's also interesting that this occurred several days after the 10th anniversary of the publication of Pope John Paul II's encyclical Evangelium Vitae, condemning abortion and euthanasia as crimes that no human laws could legitimize.

When Pope John Paul II died, Life magazine published an issue in tribute to him. Go here to see a photo of the cover. The small print across the bottom reads "With a Foreword by the Reverend Billy Graham." The reader may come to his own conclusions on that.

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