Pope John Paul II Dies

The world mourned the late Pope John Paul II on Sunday, April 3, 2005, and thousands of grieving pilgrims converged on Rome to pay homage to the Pope.

Millions Worldwide Mourn Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II, who helped topple communism in Europe and left a deeply conservative stamp on the church that he led for 26 years, died Saturday night in his Vatican apartment, ending a long public struggle against debilitating illness. He was 84.

Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II

“We all feel like orphans this evening,” Undersecretary of State Archbishop Leonardo Sandri told the crowd of 70,000 that gathered in St. Peter’s Square below the pope’s still-lighted apartment windows.

In the massive piazza that stretches from St. Peter’s Basilica, the assembled flock fell into a stunned silence before some people broke into applause — an Italian tradition in which mourners often clap for important figures. Others wept. Still others recited the rosary. A seminarian slowly waved a large red and white Polish flag draped with black bunting for the Polish-born pontiff, the most-traveled pope in history.

At one point, prelates asked those in the square to stay silent so they might “accompany the pope in his first steps into heaven.”

But as the Vatican bells tolled in mourning, a group of young people sang, “Alleluia, he will rise again.” One strummed a guitar, and other pilgrims joined in singing the “Ave Maria.”

“The angels welcome you,” Vatican TV said after papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls announced the death of the pope, who had for years suffered from Parkinson’s disease and came down with fever and infections in recent weeks.

In contrast to the church’s ancient traditions, Navarro-Valls announced the death to journalists in the most modern of communication forms, an e-mail that said: “The Holy Father died this evening at 9:37 p.m. in his private apartment.” The spokesman said church officials now would be following instructions that John Paul had written for them on Feb. 22, 1996. A precise cause of death was not given.

Source: Victor L. Simpson, AP

About Pope John-Paul II (Karol Josef Wojtyla)

The appointment of Karol Josef Wojtyla as Pope in 1978 was in many ways seen as a groundbreaking move for the Catholic Church.

Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II

The first Polish pontiff – and at 58, the youngest Pope of the 20th Century – he had risen swiftly through the ranks of Catholic clergy to become Archbishop of Krakow.

His career – although rapid – was not spectacular. Although respected, he was little known outside Vatican circles, and few experts tipped him as successor to Pope John Paul, who died after only 33 days in office.

Karol Wojtyla took the name of John Paul II after being elected in a two-day session of the College of Cardinals sitting in the Sistine Chapel.

Born near Krakow in 1920, the young Karol Wojtyla devoted his energies to sports including football and skiing. An avid theatre lover, at one time he also considered becoming an actor.

During the Nazi occupation in World War II he studied theology – in hiding for part of the time – and was eventually ordained a priest in 1946.

He was quickly promoted, becoming archbishop in 1964 and cardinal in 1967.

An outside candidate, his approach to the papacy was dynamic. John Paul II has never been a man to remain shrouded behind the walls of the Vatican.

He is the first Slavic pope in history and the first non-Italian pope in over 400 years. In the age of mass media, John Paul II, who is the 264th pope, is perhaps the most well known pope in history.

He has travelled constantly. After his appointment, he quickly established himself as an instantly recognisable figurehead to the world’s largest Christian community.

He has visited more than 100 countries and is estimated to have effectively circled the globe 27 times.

However his desire for closeness with people almost led to his death. In 1981 he was shot and seriously wounded by a Mehmet Ali Agca, a Turkish fanatic, in St Peter’s square.

After a long recovery he visited and forgave his would-be assassin.

Despite the Pope’s progressive, hands-on leadership, he is not without his critics, particularly over his views on contentious issues such as divorce, contraception and abortion.

At a Vatican conference in 2001 he spoke out against laws allowing divorce, abortion, homosexual unions and rights for unmarried couples.

Pope John Paul II has served as pope longer than all but three popes: Only St. Peter (37 years), Pius IX (31 years, 7 months, 21 days), and Pope Leo XIII (25 years, 4 months, 17 days) had longer pontificates than John Paul.

John Paul spoke eight languages, including Italian, English, Russian, French, Polish, Spanish, and Portuguese.

His linguistic skills have served him well in his travels to more than 120 countries.

Life Highlights

1920 – Born near Krakow, Poland
1938 – Enrolled at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland
1946 – Ordained as a priest in Krakow
1948 – Earned his doctorate in theology
1963 – Named Archbishop of Krakow by Pope Paul VI
1967 – Elevated to cardinal by Pope Paul VI
1978 – Elected Pope of the Roman Catholic Church
1981 – Shot by Mehmet Ali Agca of Turkey
1994 – Named Time magazine’s Man of the Year
2001 – Doctors confirm he is suffering from Parkinson’s Disease
2003 – Celebrates 25th anniversary of pontificate

Source: www.bbc.co.uk, www.howstuffworks.com

About Papacy

Office of the pope, head of the Roman Catholic Church.

Vatican - Inside.
Vatican – Inside.

He is pope by reason of being bishop of Rome and thus, according to Roman Catholic belief, successor in the see of Rome (the Holy See) to its first bishop, St. Peter.

The pope therefore claims to be the shepherd of all Christians and representative (vicar or vicegerent) of Christ. The claim of Petrine supremacy and (by virtue of Peter’s connection to Rome) Roman supremacy, is based on Matthew 16:18–19.

Papal supremacy is not acknowledged outside the Roman Catholic Church. That church further holds that God will not permit the pope to make an error in a solemn official declaration concerning a matter of faith or morality.

The pope is also patriarch of the West; the great majority, although not all, of the Christians recognizing his authority as pope are also under his authority as patriarch.

This question of areas of authority is practical only with regard to some of the Eastern-rite patriarchs who may, for example, appoint bishops without papal confirmation.

The pope generally lives in Rome, of which a portion (Vatican City) is politically independent and under his rule; the pope is thus head of a state and owes no political allegiance.

Source: The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia

Objections to the Papacy

The Pope’s position as Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church is dogmatic and therefore not open to debate or dispute within the Catholic Church; the First Vatican Council anathematised all who dispute the Pope’s primacy of honour and of jurisdiction (it is lawful to discuss the precise nature of that primacy, provided that such discussion does not violate the terms of the Council’s Dogmatic Constitution). However, the Pope’s authority is not undisputed outside the Catholic Church; these objections differ from denomination to denomination, but can roughly be outlined as (1.) objections to the extent of the primacy of the Pope; and (2.) objections to the institution of the Papacy itself.


John XXIII signed his encyclical Pacem in Terris.Some non-Catholic Christian denominations, such as the Assyrian Church of the East, the Oriental Orthodox Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Anglican Communion, accept the doctrine of Apostolic Succession, and therefore accept (to varying extents) the claim that the Pope as successor to St. Peter is heir to Petrine primacy of honour. These churches deny, however, the claim that the Pope is also heir to Petrine primacy of jurisdiction. Because none of these denominations recognise the First Vatican Council as ecumenical, they regard its definitions of Papal jurisdiction and infallibility (and anathematisation of those who do not accept them) as non-binding.

Other non-Catholic Christian denominations do not accept the doctrine of Apostolic Succession, or do not understand it in hierarchical terms, and therefore do not accept the claim that the Pope is heir either to Petrine primacy of honour or to Petrine primacy of jurisdiction. The Papacy’s complex relationship with the Roman and Byzantine Empires, and other secular states, and the Papacy’s territorial claims in Italy, are another focal point of these objections; as is the monarchical character of the office of Pope. In Western Christianity, these objections — and the vehement rhetoric they have at times been cast in — are products of the Protestant Reformation. These denominations vary from simply not accepting the Pope’s authority as legitimate and valid, to believing that the Pope is the Antichrist or one of the beasts spoken of in the Book of Revelation. These denominations tend to be more heterogeneous amongst themselves than the aforementioned hierarchical churches, and their views regarding the Papacy and its institutional legitimacy (or lack thereof) vary considerably.

Pope John Paul II Dies (Reuters/Tony Gentile)
A faithful reads a newspaper before the start of a solemn mass, led by Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano, for the death of Pope John Paul II in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican April 3, 2005.

Some objectors to the papacy use empirical arguments, pointing to the corrupt characters of some of the holders of that office. For instance, some argue that claimed successors to St. Peter, like Popes Alexander VI and Callixtus III from the Borgia family, were so corrupt as to be unfit to wield power to bind and loose on Earth or in Heaven. An omniscient and omnibenevolent God, some argue, would not have given those people the powers claimed for them by the Catholic Church. Defenders of the papacy argue that the Bible shows God as willingly giving privileges even to corrupt men (citing examples like some of the kings of Israel, the apostle Judas Iscariot, and even St. Peter after he denied Jesus). They also argue that not even the worst of the corrupt popes used the office to try to rip the doctrine of the Church from its apostolic roots, and that this is evidence that the office is divinely protected.

Source: Wikipedia