Popes on Parade
Anno 2001 - 2100

John Paul II
The Great

Karol Józef Wojtyła
Anno 1978-2005

Born 18 May 1920 in Wadowice, Poland. In his early days Karol Wojtyła was a poet, an actor, and a conscripted labourer during the Second World War. As the outspoken bishop of Krakov, he was a brilliant theologian and writer. When he was elected, he was the first non-Italian Pope in over four centuries.

Throughout his pontificate, John Paul II fought communism, unbridled capitalism, and political oppression. Always he preached peace.

His was a papacy of superlatives:

  • His more than 100 trips abroad to 130 countries attracted enormous crowds. With these trips, he covered a distance far greater than that traveled by all previous Popes combined: 748,568 miles, a distance equivalent to circling the globe 28 times.
  • He was the first Pope to visit a mosque.
  • He was the first Pope in 1800 years or more to visit a synagogue.
  • He instituted the annual "World Youth Day" festivals, attracting tens of thousands of young Catholics from all over the world.
  • During the Jubilee Year of 2000, he issued apologies for the failures of the Church throughout history, including the Crusades, the excesses of the Inquisition, and the failure to do more to combat genocide in the twentieth century.
  • He beatified (1,338) and canonized (482) more people than any previous Pope. Calls for his canonization began during the immense convergance of pilgrims in Rome during his funeral.

In addition, he wrote 12 encyclicals and published a new catechism.

He survived an assassination attempt early in his pontificate (1981). In his later years, he suffered greatly from Parkinson's disease.

Benedict XVI

Joseph Alois Ratzinger
Anno 2005-

Born 17 April 1927 in Marktl am Inn in Bavaria, Germany. Conscripted into the Hitler Youth and later into the Wehrmacht during the Second World War. He deserted from the army in 1945 and spent some time in an American Prisoner-of-War camp prior to entering seminary.

Described as a subtle thinker with a deep understanding of tradition, the bookish Joseph Ratzinger taught theology and served as bishop of Munich prior his appointment as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1981.

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