DAILY CATHOLIC     MONDAY     October 19, 1998     vol. 9, no. 204

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- With 20,000 cheering pilgrims from Poland on hand for the occasion, Pope John Paul II Friday celebrated the 20th anniversary of his election to the papacy. He said that he saw his mission as one of leading the Church in "councilor renewal," and pursuing "evangelization without frontiers."

          The Holy Father joined the congregation in St. Peter's Square after a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Jozef Glemp of Warsaw. He commented that he would always feel "special ties" to the people of his homeland.

          After the Mass, the Pope made a long trip around St. Peter's Square in the open "popemobile," accompanied by his personal secretary, Msgr. Stanislaw Dziwisz. After receiving a long, loud ovation, he offered some of his own thoughts on the anniversary.

          Recalling the date 20 years ago when he was approached in the Sistine Chapel and asked whether he would accept election, Pope John Paul said, "The ways of divine providence are mysterious." Then he repeated his answer to that question: "In obedience of faith before Christ my Lord, abandoning myself to the Mother of Christ and of the Church, conscious of the great difficulties, I accept." Hearing those words, the crowd in St. Peter's Square again erupted in applause.

          The Pope reflected with wonder that he had been called as Peter's successor, "from the tomb of St.. Stanislaw to the tomb of St. Peter." He remember how during that 1978 conclave, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski approached him and sought his assurance that, if he were chosen, he would accept the papacy. He insisted that he could not have become Pontiff is his episcopal career had not been buoyed by the "heroic faith" of Cardinal Wyszynski; he also gave credit to Our Lady of Chestochowa. John Paul gave thanks for "the prayer and sacrifices of all the People of God" for him during his pontificate. He mentioned especially the prayers offered on his behalf after the assassination attempt of May 13, 1981.

          Turning his gaze to the future, the Pope spoke about the need to prepare for the Jubilee Year. He recalled how at the outset of his papacy he had cried, "Open the doors to Christ!" Repeatedly that message, he insisted, "The time of the new evangelization has arrived."

          As the Vatican celebrated the 20th anniversary of Pope John Paul's election, some hard statistics may help to place his pontificate in a historical perspective.

    • As of October 16, John Paul has been Pontiff for 7,306 days. His reign is the longest of any Pope elected in the 20th century, and he ranks 13th among all of the 263 successors to St. Peter. (Pope Pius IX had the longest tenure: 32 years, from 1846 to 1878.) Assuming that he leads the Church into the 21st century, at the beginning of the Jubilee Year he will rank 9th in papal longevity.

    • John Paul has made 84 apostolic voyages, visiting 117 different countries. He has made 134 shorter trips inside Italy, reaching 269 different towns. And he has carried out apostolic visits to 274 of the 328 parishes in the Rome diocese.During these trips the Pope has delivered 2,194 official public addresses. His busiest speaking tour was his 1979 trip to Ireland and the United States, when he gave 76 public talks in the course of 9 days.

    His combined travel has taken him on trips covering over 1,000,000 miles altogether-- roughly 26 times the circumference of the globe, or more than twice the distance from earth to the moon.

    • John Paul has presided at the canonization of 280 new saints-- 246 martyrs and 34 confessors-- in 35 different ceremonies. He has beatified 805 people, in 112 ceremonies.

    • He has written 13 encyclicals, 10 apostolic exhortations, 10 apostolic constitutions, 37 apostolic letters, and 19 motu proprios.

    • He has held 7 consistories, and elevated 157 men to the college of cardinals. Of the 157 cardinals living today, 128 received their red hats from John Paul. Of the 115 eligible to vote in a papal conclave, 101 were elevated by this Pontiff.

    • He has presided over 12 assemblies (including general, particular, and extraordinary sessions) of the Synod of Bishops; 877 weekly catechetical audiences (with an estimated attendance of nearly 14 million altogether); 584 official visits with heads of state and another 82 with prime ministers.

    The encyclicals of Pope John Paul II to date are:

    • Redemptor Hominis, 1979
    • Dives in misericordia, 1980
    • Laborem exercens, 1981
    • Slavorum Apostoli, 1985
    • Dominum et vivificantem, 1986
    • Redemptoris Mater, 1987
    • Sollicitudo rei socialis, 1987
    • Redemptoris missio, 1990
    • Centesimus annus, 1991
    • Veritatis splendor, 1993
    • Evangelium vitae, 1995
    • Ut unum sint, 1995
    • Fides et ratio, 1998

Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
CWN is not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

October 19, 1998       volume 9, no. 204


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