Resources on Faith, Ethics and Public Life

Pope John Paul II

This individual is not a direct affiliate of the Berkley Center.

Pope John Paul II was the head of the Roman Catholic Church from 1978 to 2005. Born Karol Wojtyla in Poland in 1920, he secretly trained for the priesthood in an underground seminary during the Nazi occupation of Poland. He participated in the Second Vatican Council and was elected to the papacy in 1978. He preached to people across the world and became the most traveled pope in history, visiting 129 countries and meeting with world leaders. He emphasized social justice and human rights in his encyclicals Centesimus Annus and Laborem Exercens, and he reached out to other faith communities. He was a staunch advocate for peace and was among the most vocal critics of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. He died in 2005 after years of declining health. Beautified in 2011, John Paul II was canonized by Pope Francis in 2014.
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