Friday, April 08, 2005

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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