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Pope John Paul

Pope John Paul

One of many monuments to the first Polish Pope sprouting up all over Poland since the death of Pope John Paul II in 2005. This one is in the small town of Pelczyce.

Pope John Paul II was born Karol Jozef Wojtyla was born in 1920 in Wadowice in southern Poland. He studied at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow. Karol Wojtyla became Pope in 1978 at the age of 58, the youngest pope elected since Pope Pius IX in 1846 and was the first non-Italian pope since the 16th century. 

His early reign was marked by his opposition to Communism, and he is often credited as one of the forces which brought about the fall of the Soviet Union. In other domains, he refused to alter the long-standing Christian doctrine that abortion, homosexuals, and contraception were always evil. He upheld the consistent tradition of ordaining only men to the priesthood. He also continued the Catholic Church's long-standing teaching that divorced persons could not take a second spouse, and he reiterated the teaching that valid sacramental marriage could only exist between one man and one woman. He emphasized the benefits of retaining the discipline of mandatory priestly celibacy and opposed secularism. He also opposed capital punishment, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, and euthanasia. The conservative views of Pope John Paul II were sometimes criticized, outside of Poland, as regressive.

Pope John Paul II was and remains extremely popular in Poland and respected by enormous numbers of Christians and non-Christians worldwide.

Immediately after the death Pope John Paul II, many Polish people demanded that he be elevated to sainthood. A well organised campaign to accomplish this goal of making John Paul a saint continues.

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