THE PAPAL 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.
John Paul II names 12 Bishops for 11 Dioceses in Romania, re-instating the
Church (the first time in 42 years). He establishes diplomatic relations
with Czechoslovakia, Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria. He visits Cape Verde,
Guinea, Bissau, Mali, Burkina, Czechoslovakia, Mexico, Curacao, Malta,
Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Ivory Coast.
John Paul II attends World Youth Day at Polish Shrine of our Lady of
Czestochowa on August 15 celebrating with an estimated 1.5 million people
at the closing Mass. He issues 9th encyclical: Centesimus Annus in honor
of centenary of Pope Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum (on capital and labor).
Meets with bishops and President Bush to assess Church's role at end of
Gulf War. Convenes European Synod of Bishops. He visits his homeland of Poland again
as well as Hungary, Brazil, and gives thanks personally to Our Lady at Fatima for her intercession ten years prior when he was shot on her feast day.
John Paul II undergoes surgery for removal of a benign intestinal tumor in
July but recovers to begin 500th anniversary of the beginning of
Christianity at Santa Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Approves
publication of the new Catechism of the Catholic Church, first such in over 400
years. He makes visits to Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Angola, and Sao Tome
On Divine Mercy Sunday the Holy Father beatifies the "Apostle of Mercy" - Blessed Sister Faustina Kowalska. John Paul II meets with European leaders of all faiths at Assisi for a
prayer summit for peace and travels to Denver to preside at World Youth Day
1993 culminating with Holy Mass on August 15th. The Holy Father conducts
Ad limina visits for all U.S. bishops. He also travels to Benin, Uganda,
and Sudan in Africa; Madrid, Huelva and Seville, Spain for close of
International Eucharistic Congress; Jamacia and makes his first trip to
Albania while continuously pleading for an end to the war in
Bosnia-Herzegovina. On the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord - August 6 he issues his tenth
encyclical Veritatis Splendor - The Splendor of Truth which deals with moral teaching.
After delays in the translation, the new Catechism of the Catholic Church is finally released.
The Holy Father proclaims 1994 the "Year of the Family" and issues a special Letter to Families in February. John Paul calls the Synod of African Bishops as well as conducting a Synod on Religious Life. He visits Zagreb in Croatia where millions cheer him and he shares their grief over the war in their homelands. Towards the end of the year he receives countless petitions requesting him to proclaim Mary as Coredemptrix, Advocate and Mediatrix of all graces. The surgery John Paul II had on his hip earlier in the year forces him to cancel trip to U.S. where he was to address the United Nations Assembly.
Recovered from his surgery, the Holy Father visits the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland again then the Philippines where a record four million turn out for his Papal Mass. On March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation he issues his eleventh encyclical Evangelium Vitae called the Gospel of Life. Two months later, on the Solemnity of the Ascension, he releases his twelfth encyclical Ut Unum Sint - "That They May All Be One" on the Church's commitment to ecumenism. He expresses grave concern for the slaughters in Rwanda and Sudan on his trip to Cameroon, Kenya and South Africa. He beatifies Edith Stein. He finally makes it to the U.S. eastern seaboard in October where he addresses the UN and draws record crowds in the pouring rain in stadiums in New York and Baltimore. He plays a major influence from afar in the Beijing UN Conference for Women. He wraps up the year in December by debuting the Vatican on the Internet at Christmas.
The Holy Father issues an Apostolic Constitution on the Vacancy of the Apostolic See and the election of the Roman Pontiff with Universi Dominici Gregis. He visits Guatamala, Venezuela, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, as well as Tunis. He releases another book "Gift and Mystery" that would rise to the bestseller list just as "Crossing the Threshold of Hope" had. He calls for unity with the Orthodox and condemns President Clinton for his late-term abortion veto as he assails the United States for their stance on abortion and plays a major pivotal role at the UN Conference on World Population in Egypt by rallying the third world countries to vote down mandatory abortion and population control. Score one for the Culture of Life! In October he undergoes an appendectomy operation and celebrates his 50th year - his Golden Anniversary - as a priest on the solemnity of All Saints with a special concert at the Vatican as they tell him: "It is your song that unites the Church."
The Pope begins the year by dedicating it to Jesus Christ the Son for the first year of Jubilee 2000 as the countdown to the millennium begins. The Holy Father visits Sarajevo in Bosnia, the Czech Republic again, and Lebanon before jetting to Brazil to celebrate the "World Family Meeting." Despite consistent rumors that the Holy Father has Parkinson's Disease, John Paul II confounds all the so-called medical and media experts by just going and going and going. Even in the summer heat of Paris he outlasts the youth who clamor for shade at World Youth Day in August where the tremendous unexpected turnout astounds prognosticators and local clergy who expected far fewer people. The Pope meets with Mother Teresa and her successor Sister Nirmala in the Spring. It would be their last meeting, these two modern-day saints, for the Holy Father would mourn her death along with the entire world in the Fall. He caps the year by declaring Saint Therese of Lisieux a Doctor of the Church - the third woman to be granted such an honor, and closes the year with the Synod of the American Bishops combining North, Central and South America for what was called the Synod of the Americas.
The Holy Father dedicates the second year of the Jubilee to the Holy Spirit and makes his first ever trip to Cuba where he is wildly received by the faithful as a stern and cautious Fidel Castro looks on. John Paul II calls for greater freedom for the people religiously and politically and calls for an end to the U.S. Embargo. Returning to Rome he conducts another Consistory where he elevates 22 new Cardinals including Cardinal James Francis Stafford, former Archbishop of Denver who hosted World Youth Day and now a member of the curia, and Cardinal Francis George, OMI the new head of the Chicago archdiocese, replacing the departed Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. In early May he is shocked and saddened by the murder of his loyal Swiss Guard Alois Estermann and his wife by a disgruntled underling Swiss Guard. Alois was the young man who cradled and protected the Holy Father as the Popemobile sped away in St. Peter's Square in 1981. The Holy Father had just granted Estermann the highest honor of Commandant of the Guard and was to have been installed a few days later. John Paul II again gives thanks on the seventeenth anniversary of his near-death shooting episode and enjoy a quiet, relaxed 78th Birthday at the Vatican as he looks forward to bringing Holy Mother Church into the glorious third millennium. Happy Birthday, your holiness. May you have many more!!!
Prayers and Blessings for a very Happy Birthday
to our beloved John Paul II the Great!