In 1937, Karol was confirmed in Krakow where he had moved with his father. There he would reside for the next 40 years. In his early years there he enrolled in the department of philosophy at Jagiellonian University, the second oldest university in central Europe and the same college where Copernicus studied. Karol joined the "Rhapsodic Theatre" still intent on a career in drama. In 1939 the Nazi's invaded Poland in September, six months after Pope Pius XII was proclaimed the 260th Pope in the succession of Peter. The University was closed and Karol sent to a rock quarry and later a chemical plant as a manual laborer. While reflecting on the evils of totalitarianism, Karol wrote more plays. It was the next year that virtually changed Karol's life forever.
In 1940 Karol was laid up in the hospital due to a trolley accident. With plenty of time on his hands, the recurring thought of becoming a priest was placed on his heart, but he opted to continue his pursuit of theater. However God wouldn't take no for an answer for the Almighty had great plans for this simple Polish lad. Less than a six months later Karol was struck again by a truck, a Nazi truck and while laid up in recuperation, his vocation was fostered in part from reading St. John of the Cross' "Dark Night of the Soul." Soon after a heart attack took Karol's father home to Heaven. Left alone in a war-torn country, Karol turned his attention to helping his beloved Poland by becoming active in the underground movement with members of the Christian Resistance (UNIA) in helping protect Jewish families. Under the guidance of prayer group leader Jan Tyranowski, who Pope John Paul II referred to later as "a real master of the spiritual life", Karol fostered a vocation to the priesthood. In 1942, with war raging around him he turned his attention fully toward God, entering an underground seminary organized by Archbishop Adam Stefan Sapieha who had been recruiting Karol for some time. Knowing Karol's secular desire to be an actor first, the Archbishop kept reaffirming to Karol, "What a pity. We could use a man like you in the Church." As it would turn out, Karol would lead the Church during her most difficult times. In 1944, because of his participation with the underground resistance, Karol was placed on the Nazi blacklist and became a hunted man. Along with his fellow seminarians, Karol was hidden in the Archbishop's palace until the war was over.
On November 1, 1946 - the feast of All Saints, Karol was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Sapieha. Soon after he was sent to Rome to study advanced Theology at the renowned Angelicum where he developed a long-standing interest in Christian mysticism, doing a doctoral dissertation on St. John of the Cross. It was two years later that Karol returned to Poland, assigned to parish work as a deacon in Niegowic and then at St. Florian's where, as pastor, he pursued working with the youth. It was special interest and bond he always had and exhibits today wherever he travels. This passion for evangelizing to the youth ultimately lead to his establishing World Youth Days in 1984 which will continue into the next millennium. In 1954 Father Karol continued his work with the youth, being assigned to teach part time at the Catholic University of Lublin behind the iron curtain and where he would later be named Chairman of the Philosophy Department. There he received his second doctorate, this time in Philosophy, centered on the work of Max Scheier, an early German proponent of phenomenology. It was in this research that the future pope understood better the possibility and probability of apparitions and the reasons for reported Heavenly visits. It would make him more sensitive to reported events around the world, especially to the phenomena of Medjugorje and prompt him, in the late 80's to overrule Bishop Zanic's (the bishop of Mostar) denunciation of the apparitions of Medjugorje.
On September 8, 1958 Karol became the youngest bishop in Poland when he was consecrated auxiliary bishop of Krakow in Warsaw. He was elevated to the Episcopacy during the 20th year of Pope Pius XII's papacy. Ironically, twenty years later he would become Pope. In his continuing work with the youth it's interesting to note that Karol was notified of his appointment to bishop while on a backpacking and canoeing trip with some youth from the university. A year later Bishop Wojtyla was named to the Polish Academy of Sciences in recognition for his work in philosophy. He became a major force in the intellectual life of his country. But he turned his sights toward Rome when beckoned by Pope John XXIII for the Second Vatican Council where he became an active participant, writing Dignitatis Humanae, the Declaration on Religious Freedom which proved the false humanistic tendencies of Marx and Lenin and modernism in the west. It showed he had the vision and wisdom to guide not just Poland but the entire world. He truly had a grasp on all cultures. It also gave insight on why the Holy Father is so adamantly against communism, liberal theology and the culture of death so prevalent in the United States today.
On January 13, 1964 Archbishop Wojtyla was elevated to Archbishop of the See of Krakow. During this time he contributed greatly to the conciliar documents Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes to name just a few. These two documents he continues to refer to regularly during his papacy and clearly shows the far-reaching effects on human rights and as a crusader for the persecuted Church throughout the world. The 262nd successor of Peter, Pope Paul VI elevated Archbishop Wojtyla to the ranks of Cardinal on June 26th, 1967 where he was able to have even more influence for the Church in Poland. He was instrumental through diplomacy with the Polish government in allowing worship to continue in Poland as well as taking an active role in the International Synod of Bishops where he learned even further the strengths and weaknesses of the world Church. Always the scholar and writer, Cardinal Wojtyla published his book "Foundations of Renewal" in 1972 which reflected his efforts to educate the people of his diocese on Vatican II. Six years later he was called to Rome to elect a new pontiff when Pope Paul VI passed on to his heavenly reward. It's interesting to note that he had to interrupt a camping trip with some youths to travel to the Conclave. There, on August 26, 1978 he joined the College of Cardinals Electors in elevating Cardinal Albino Luciani to become Pope John Paul I, the 263rd successor of Peter who many in the Conclave described as the "Smiling Pope" and "God's candidate." With his dear older friend and countryman Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, Cardinal Wojtyla returned to Poland, content with their selection. Karol returned to his camping trip for a few days, then accompanied Cardinal Wyszynski on a five day visit to West Germany in their quest to unite Germany and Poland in a consensus toward Roman Catholicism as they were rooted in. Wojtyla's speech to the Germans gave a portent of what was to come, already seeing the European Union in the distance. Anticipating this, he reiterated to the German delegation: "Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals is possible only if based on Christian civilization and motivated by Christian values - both must depend on the millennial tutelage of the papacy."
The papacy was where Karol would turn his full efforts when, a few weeks later On August 6, 1978 at around 10 pm word came that John Paul I had mysteriously died. Details of his death remain a mystery to this day and there have been numerous reports of murder and a conspiracy that still exists today. But that will be dealt with at a later date in this on-going treatise. For now we concentrate on the events leading to the election of Pope John Paul II.
Again there was division among the Cardinal Electors. Cardinal Giuseppe Siri of Genoa, who had been the choice of many only a month prior was again being touted as the most viable candidate. Those fearful he could not muster enough votes to offset a liberal candidate who would dilute the papacy and opt ultimately for a more democratic, protestant-like form of governing, rallied around Cardinal Wyszynski, who was held in great esteem for his devotion to the traditional Church concept and to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Yet there was a stalemate between Siri and Wyszynski on the first day of the Conclave on October 15, 1978. Cardinal Wyszynski, seeing that he was too old to lead the Church, but knew that his protege would be the perfect pope quietly introduced his dear friend Cardinal Karol Wojtyla's name into contention. At first there was only a small minority in favor of this "other Pole," but Siri stepped forward and told the Conclave "Non accepto" - "I do not accept." It was the final straw for those who had pushed Siri for the papacy in 1963 only to lose to Cardinal Battista Montini of Milan who would become Pope Paul VI. Now Montini was dead and his successor had reigned for less than a month, who would become the next pope? As Author Father Malachy Martin put it in his brilliant work "Keys of This Blood": "The College of Cardinals had already been polarized." The liberal element could not decide on a solid candidate to carry their banner. The most viable were Cardinal Basil Hume of England, Cardinal Giovanni Benelli of Florence and Cardinaly Francois Marty of Paris. Europe divided the Conclave as well as philosophy and the fact the liberal element could not unite on one candidate caused their ultimate defeat at the Conclave as Wojtyla gained on the second ballot due to Wyszynski's influence. The Polish mentor of Cardinal Wojtyla publicly called upon Mary's blessing on his brother cardinals in breaking the deadlock and invoking the Holy Spirit to truly inspire them. The rest is history, miraculous according to both Wojtyla and Wyszynski who said later: "If people doubt there are signs and miracles in the world today, I say to them, 'If anything is a miracle, what happened in the Sistine Chapel on October 16 is one." ("Keys of This Blood", page 616). Yes, Mary played a definite intercessory role in the election of our present pontiff. No wonder his holiness had dedicated his papacy to her "Totus Tuus"; no wonder Our Lady opted for this wise Polish prelate as the one to lead her children into the next millennium.
In the next installment, we will study his papacy and teachings to discover he is the true admiral chosen by God to steer the good ship H.M.C. (Holy Mother Church) through the troubled and typhoon-like waves of these last decades of the twentieth century into the tranquil seas of the Reign of the Sacred Heart. This can only happen with the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart. Who better to skipper this ship than one who totally believes in Mary's role as Mother of the Church, Advocate, Redemptrix and Mediatrix of all graces? Throughout history Our Lady has had a method to her messages; none as certain as her desire to bring her Divine Son's One, True, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church to glory under the guidance of her chosen servant - Karol Jozef Wojtyla, the man who is now our Pope and a role model for all generations.