Saint Pope John Paul II, born Karol Józef Wojtyla (18 May 1920 – 2 April 2005), reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at 84 years and 319 days of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted 26 years and 168 days; only Pope Pius IX (1846–1878) who served 31 years, has reigned longer. Pope John Paul II is the only Slavic or Polish pope to date and was the first non-Italian Pope since Dutch Pope Adrian VI (1522–1523).
John Paul II has been acclaimed as one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century. It is widely held that he was instrumental in ending communism in his native Poland and eventually all of Europe. Conversely, he denounced the excesses of capitalism. John Paul II is widely said to have significantly improved the Catholic Church's relations with Judaism, Islam, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Anglican Communion. Though criticised by progressives for upholding the Church's teachings against artificial contraception and the ordination of women, he was also criticised by traditionalists for his support of the Church's Second Vatican Council and its reform of the Liturgy as well as his ecumenical efforts.
He was one of the most-travelled world leaders in history, visiting 129 countries during his pontificate. He spoke Italian, French, German, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Croatian, and Latin as well as his native Polish. As part of his special emphasis on the universal call to holiness, he beatified 1,340 people and canonised 483 saints, more than the combined tally of his predecessors during the last five centuries. On 19 December 2009, John Paul II was proclaimed venerable by his successor Pope Benedict XVI and was beatified on 1 May 2011 after the Congregation for the Causes of Saints attributed one miracle to him, the healing of a French nun from Parkinson's disease. A second miracle, attributed to the late pope, was approved on 2 July 2013 and confirmed by Pope Francis two days later. John Paul II was canonised on 27 April 2014, alongside Pope John XXIII. Like John XXIII, his feast day is not celebrated on the date of his death as is usual, but on the anniversary of his papal inauguration, 22 October 1978.
Source: Wikipedia, "Pope John Paul II", available under the CC-BY-SA License.
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