THE PAPAL YEARS: The first dozen years
Upon the unexpected death of John Paul I on September 28th, Cardinal
Wojtyla rejoins the College of Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel to elect
another Pope. John Paul I whose reign lasted on 33 days, was the first
pope to choose a double name. Known as the "smiling Pope", John Paul I
declined to have a coronation ceremony.
On October 16th
White Smoke curls up over the Vatican: Cardinal Wojtyla is elected the 163rd
successor to St. Peter and chooses the name John Paul II.
He becomes the first Polish Pope, the first non-Italian Pope since Adrian
VI in 1523, and the youngest pontiff since Pope Pius IX one hundred years ago.
Like his predecessor, John Paul II declines the papal tiara and is
installed in an outdoor Mass in St. Peter's Square.
John Paul II begins an odyssey that would identify him as the "Pilgrim
Pope": with the most extensive travel itinerary in the history of the
papacy. He first visits the Dominican republic, the Bahamas, and Mexico
then returns to his native Poland, then to Ireland and the USA (NY, Boston,
Phil., Des Moines, Chicago and Was. D.C.) and Turkey. On March 4th he issues
his first encyclical Redemptor Hominis, on redemption and the dignity of
the human race.
The Holy Father travels the globe to various provinces of Africa (Zaire,
Congo, Kenya, Ghana, Volta, and Ivory Coast); then to France, Brazil, and
W. Germany. In the Fall he presides over his first Synod of Bishops and
the 5th Synod Assembly, "The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern
World" and then issues his 2nd encyclical - on the mercy of God: Dives in
John Paul II is shot in the abdomen on May 13th, Feast of Our Lady of
Fatima in St. Peter's Square by would-be assassin Mehmet Ali Agca who John
Paul would later forgive. During recovery, he reads about Fatima and Sister
Faustina's Diary on Divine Mercy. Prior to the incident, he travels to the
Philippines, Guam, and Japan with stopovers in Pakistan and Alaska. He
issues his 3rd encyclical, (on human work); Laborem Exercens.
John Paul II resumes his world visits traveling to Africa, Portugal, Great
Britain, Brazil, Argentina, Switzerland, and Spain. He re-establishes
credentials with Britain with first ambassador to Vatican since Henry VIII,
450 years ago and meets with Anglican Archbishop Runcie at Canterbury.
Also meets with Ronald Reagan and later Yassir Arafat.
John Paul II formally approves revision of the Code of Canon Law for the
Latin Rite, replacing a code of 1918. Unseals the Holy Door in St. Peter's
and calls for study of decline of vocations in the U.S. since Vatican II
and calls on the super powers to negotiate an end to the arms race. The
Shroud of Turin is bequeathed to the Pope by King Umberto. Travels include
Central America, Poland again, Lourdes, and Austria.
John Paul II holds first international gathering of young people at the
Vatican. He establishes diplomatic relations with the USA and meets
President and Nancy Reagan again. He issues Gift of Redemption: Redemptionis
Donum on religious life and condemns anti-Semitism and Apartheid. Visits
South Korea, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Thailand, Canada, Spain, and
John Paul II inducts 28 new members into the College of Cardinals (an
all-time high of 152). Encyclical on death of Saint Methodius: Slavorum
Apostoli; opens secret archives of St. Pius X and Benedict XV; Fr. Junipero Serra,
OFM declared venerable, and second Extraordinary General Assembly of the
Synod of Bishops on 20th Anniversary of Vatican II. He travels to South
America (Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Trinidad and Tobago); Africa, Belgium,
Holland, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein.
John Paul II establishes World Youth Day in Buenos Aires on Palm Sunday.
Two encyclicals: Redemptoris Mater, on the Blessed Mother and the pilgrim
Church for Marian Year (June 7, 87 to Aug. 15, 1988); and Sollicitudo Rei
Socialis, on social concerns. Calls for unity with Orthodox Church.
Visit's South America, W. Germany, Poland, and 2nd time in US (Miami;
Columbia, SC; New Orleans; San Antonio, Phoenix, LA; Monterey; SF; and
Detroit and Canada.
John Paul II takes active interest in the communist countries issuing an
Apostolic letter Euntes in Mundum commemorating 1000 years of the baptism
of Saint Vladimir of Kiev and the Russian Church. His travels take him to
Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay, Austria, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho,
Swaziland, Mozambique, South Africa, and France.
John Paul II attends 2nd international World Youth Day at Shrine of
Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Meets with President George Bush and Mikal Gorbachev
separately and establishes official diplomatic relations with Poland while
restoring a bishop in the Minsk, Byelo-Russia for the first time since
WWII. Visits Madagascar, Reunion, Zambia, Malawi, Norway, Iceland,
Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, Korea, Indonesia, East Timor, and Mauritius.