Global Christianity John Paul II
(1920 - )
Global Christianity

Polish pope who became an ambassador for Catholicism in a post-modern world.

Karol Wojtila, priest, bishop, and then cardinal, was chosen in 1978 to be pope—the first non-Italian to hold the position in 456 years. His leadership has inspired Polish and other eastern European Catholics, who suffered repression under Communism. As a Pole, John Paul had experienced both Nazi occupation and Soviet domination; throughout his papacy he therefore identified with "the poor, the disinherited, the oppressed, the marginalized and the defenseless." In his writings he sought to address social, ethical, and spiritual problems with Christian truth. More well-traveled than any other Pope, John Paul II met with world religious and political leaders, visited places of conflict and suffering, and held mass all around the globe. For his firm stand against the use of contraceptives, the ordination of women, and the marriage of priests, John Paul has been criticized by those who favor continued change within the church in the spirit of Vatican II.

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